Final Report

Louisiana Folklife Thesis and Dissertation Bibliography Update
By Marc David
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This report to the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism's Folklife Program in the Division of the Arts accompanies the final version of the Louisiana Folklife Thesis and Dissertation Bibliography. An existing bibliographic compilation, published in Louisiana Folklife: A Guide to the State (edited by Nicholas Spitzer, Baton Rouge: Louisiana Folklife Program, 1985) has been updated and prepared for posting on the Program's website according to the conditions agreed upon in Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism Contract # DCRT-OCD-99-13.

The previous bibliography, produced by C. Paige Gutierrez, was included as Appendix 2, pages 294-303 of Louisiana Folklife. Titled "Doctoral Dissertations and Masters Theses Relevant to Louisiana Folklife,* it contained alphabetical listings of titles in each category of graduate work, organized according to the author's name, then the title of the thesis/dissertation, the university where it is published, and the year of publication. The current format of the bibliography, compiled in the form of a database file in Microsoft Access, maintains the same bibliographic categories as separate fields of the file. The only significant modification of these existing categories has been to combine theses and dissertations in a single collection, with the field "Degree" used to designate the type of study (i.e., B.A., D.B.A., DMA., Ed.S., Ed.D., M.A., M.L.A, M.M., M.S., M.S.W., or Ph.D.).

Two features have been added to the bibliography with the objective of making the information contained in it more accessible to its potential users. In the interest of informing searchers that some works exist in a more readily available format, forty-six studies that were subsequently published by regional or university presses have publication information entered under the field entitled "Published as." Similarly, the addition of abstracts for practically all dissertation entries from 1980 to the present (approximately 130 titles, or roughly 20 percent of the bibliography) provides the searcher with a brief summary of the work's contents. Summarized English translations have also been provided for four studies with French abstracts.

The updated bibliography has 683 entries, making it more than double its previous size of 250 entries. Of the current total, approximately 248 titles dating from 1982 to the present have been added to the original list, while 185 entries which date from the beginning of the century to 1981 have been appended. In terms of the distribution of research over time, half of it dates from before 1975, and the other half was completed since then.

There are 381 masters' theses, representing fifty-six percent of the titles. Forty-one percent, or 284 entries, are doctoral dissertations, and the remaining three percent are bachelors' theses (18 entries). Over two-thirds of the entries were produced by students at Louisiana universities. Of these, 256 Ph.D.s and M.A.s are from LSU (more than one-third the entire total), 89 from Tulane, 46 from USL, 32 from Northwestern, and 30 from UNO.

Although a number of tools have proven useful for compiling the bibliography, two in particular were crucial. One is the Louisiana Online University Information Service (LOUIS) Catalogs, which offers internet access to all but one of the state's 4-year public university libraries, including Middleton Library at LSU, Prescott Library at Louisiana Tech, Frazar Library at McNeese, Sandel Library at Northeast, Ellender Library at Nicholls, Watson Library at Northwestern, Sims Library at Southeastern, Cade Library at Southern, and Long Library at UNO. In addition, Tulane's Howard-Tilton Library and Loyola's Monroe Library were both accessed and searched via the computerized catalogues available on their respective university websites. (The exception to this move toward user-friendly computerization is USL's Dupré Library, which at the moment still operates on a Telnet connection that makes searching online difficult. To address this problem, Dupré Library was searched on-site). While the university catalogues were obviously essential resources for identifying Louisiana-specific research, they are particularly indispensable for locating work at the master's level, since there are no existing bibliographic tools which provide comprehensive lists of theses at the state or national levels.

LOUIS is now the Louisiana Digital Library and has a complex or advanced search feature, currently accessed here (URL: Advanced searching allows one to combine several terms in a single search, while more accurately designating the fields in which searches are carried out. Such a feature is extremely useful, since theses and dissertations are marked as such in fields that are not directly accessed through standard search categories (e.g., author, title, subject). As a rule, all graduate work (as well as B.A. theses) are classified in the fields "Notes" or "Series" and share the common appellation "Thesis' (followed by the letters Ph.D., M.A. or B.A. in parentheses). Theses and dissertations are thus best accessed by a keyword search, which will pull up items with a specified word or words located anywhere in the record. A keyword search using "thesis" alone will, however, create some mishits, accumulating all works which originated as graduate research, regardless of topic. A complex search like that permitted in LOUIS, allowing, for example, a search that couples "thesis" as keyword and "Louisiana" as subject, narrows and focuses the search to suit more particular needs. This feature represents an unqualified boon in the search process, since its increased level of specificity reduces considerably the amount of time required to locate relevant material.

The other main instrument for compiling the bibliography was UMI's Dissertation Abstracts (see Contract, Attachment A, p. 7 for description). It is quite extensive in its list of Ph.D. dissertations in the U.S., and systematically included summaries of all doctoral work completed since 1980. It is less reliable as a repertory for masters' theses. Only a limited number of M.A.s were found there, and few of those entries had abstracts.

Between catalog searches of Louisiana libraries and use of Dissertation Abstracts, the updated bibliography has extensively surveyed all existing doctoral work in the selected fields. Given these search methods, its weakness is its coverage of relevant masters' theses at out-of-state universities. My sense is that it is unlikely that a more intensive search for such works would produce a large number of new entries, and it would certainly be much more labor intensive, requiring catalog-by-catalog searches of university libraries. Still, the current bibliography provides some indication of which non-Louisiana research universities might be targeted in such an effort (e.g., UT-Austin has 11 entries, Cal/Berkeley and Indiana 9 each, and UNC-Chapel Hill 8).

Criteria for selection
Given the broad and wide-ranging definition of relevant work that is implicit in the 1985 bibliography (see Contract, Attachment A, pp. 4-5), a large percentage of the Louisiana-specific research that was found was added to the bibliography. Not all potential entries were selected, however. What follows is an attempt to make explicit the criteria that were used to update the collection and choose new entries.

A fair number of new titles fail within what might be described as the conventional themes of folklore research. Examples of dissertations in this vein are Ancelet (1984) on francophone oral literature, Hall (1998) on jazz funerals, Fontenot (1994) on African-American ethnomedicine, Roach (1986) on quiltmaking, and Spitzer (1986) on Creole carnival and zydeco music. Among the master's theses, Breaux (1995) on Cane River folklore, Elliot (1992) on Cajun and Creole musicians, Goubert (1998) on Hispanic music in Louisiana, Pringle (1998) on the Angola Prison rodeo, Silver (1991) on Cajun women singers and their repertoires, and Warren (1984) on St. Joseph altar traditions are similar examples. One way that I have extended the bibliography on this type of work is to include several dissertations that include Louisiana crafts or folkstyles in their surveys or comparative studies, such as work by Zenger (1980) on North American fiddle styles and Bookout (1987) on basketry across the southeastern U.S. Here, abstracts were very useful for identifying the quantity and centrality of Louisiana-specific material in the research.

Works by Clayton (1974) and Smith (1926) represent another potential category of works that I have also tried to expand, namely, literary texts about folklore and the folk. Other studies on the Federal Writers' Project (Braud 1979, Redding 1989), biographical works on key Louisiana folklorists like Alcée Fortier (Keaty 1929) or Lyle Saxon (Harvey 1980), or research on writers exploring the subjects of gender, race and ethnicity in the state (Bienvenu 1995, Cheramie 1992, Frisby 1972, Shaker 1998, Williams 1985) are included in this updated version.

In quantitative terms, the most significant expansion of the bibliography is in the direction of the historical and sociological research that deals either with the population of the entire state at important moments and on crucial issues, or which treats the history or sociology of people that are classically identified as "the folk," i.e., rural dwellers, ethnic minorities, the working class and women. I have tried to use two principles to guide my selections: they had to be symmetric and complementary with respect to the old bibliography. For example, works like that of Shugg (1939) provide essential reading in history and politics for those who do work on rural Louisiana, and it is rightly included in the former bibliography. The equivalent literature for women, blacks and the working class, largely absent from the list, has been added to round out the bibliography in the same way. One reason for the lacuna with respect to women is that much of the work focusing on them is recent (see Broussard 1985, Forrester 1995 and Gould 1991), though Count (1946) and Labbé (1975) are notable exceptions to this. Straightforwardly folkloric work on African-Americans obviously incorporates reflexions on their experience of slavery and segregation, research on which was also previously underrepresented. Likewise, just as agrarian reform movements or New Deal agriculture policies have shaped the creativity and understanding of rural people, so the history and meaning of jazz, the Mardi Gras Indians or urban kinship networks need to be situated with respect to the everyday experience of working and making a living in cities like New Orleans. Graduate research on different aspects of urban working class life has been included for that reason.

In adding titles from before 1980, 1 have tied to build the bibliography organically, in accordance with existing themes. One way has been to simply add research that was done along similar lines or on similar topics. For example, the bibliography formerly included 13 theses from LSU on regional variations in spoken French; in fact, some three dozen of these studies were done from the late 1920s to the early 1960s, all of which are now in the bibliography. Similarly, the bibliograph's coverage of the state's subregions has been enhanced, with North Louisiana receiving particular attention through the addition of entries old (Caldwell 1975, Hazmuka 1980, Hitt 1941, Madison 1937, Mobley 1962, Parnell 1971, Shoalmire 1966, Taylor 1937) and new (Caldwell 1989, Owens 1990, Scott 1982, Thurlkill 1996, Van Rheenen 1987). Among the state's ethnic minority populations, Native American have increasingly been the subject of historical and ethnographic research (Brennan 1997, Cantwell 1965, Duncan 1998, Foret 1982, Goss 1977, La Vere 1993, A. Lee 1990, D. Lee 1989, 1998, Levine 1990, Parks 1974, Pedeaux 1970, Roche 1982, Smith 1989, Van Rheenan 1987, Waft 1986, Woods 1978), and the inclusion of that work fills another gap. Among titles that treat indigenous populations are several dissertations and theses in archeology that deal with prehistoric sites and cultural dynamics (Fertel 1985, Kidder 1988, Shelley 1980, Springer 1980, Woodiel 1980).

Several negative criteria were operative as well. In general, research that concentrated specifically on professionals and elites as groups (the military, scaliwags, clerics, journalists) or as individuals (A.P. Tureaud, General Beauregard) was avoided, except in those instances were it seemed that the work bore directly on relationships between them and the masses (e.g., O'Callaghan 1942 on Carondelet's Indian Policy, or Henry 1982 on CODOFIL). As a rule, I also excluded works with what I would call a narrow focus on political activity (e.g., racial/regional voting patterns, election campaigns) or education (e.g., evaluating performance of different racial/ethnic groups). However, I did add titles which promise to shed light on social or cultural influences on politics (e.g., Wright on the cultural determinants of Black political participation), or on the intersection of education and popular identities and pursuits (e.g., Kennedy 1996 on public school teachers and jazz mentoring, Rieff 1995 on home demonstration in the Deep South, and Parnell 1971 on fostering regional identity in the classroom). Another exception to this rule are those studies which, because of their concentration on particular cities or parishes, can potentially provide valuable material for focused ethnographic or oral history research (e.g., Courville 1978, Humphrey 1994, Kaigler-Jackson 1999, Stephenson 1972, Wheaton 1991).

The continuation of college enrollment at current rates, combined with the state's rich history and cultural diversity as well as the broadly-defined parameters of research relevant to folklife, will insure that numerous new titles will need to be added to the bibliography each year. Extrapolating from the current list, that number can be estimated at approximately fifteen, a rate which has been more or less constant since 1970. Fortunately, the computerization of bibliographic research makes this a much easier task than it was fifteen-twenty years ago when the original bibliography was compiled.

Based on the experience of updating the list this year, the following guidelines can be offered for renewing the bibliography in the future: