Two special conferences focused on the Creative Writing program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette were fortunately funded by the Friends of Humanities’ travel grants. These conferences were attended by Dr. Henk Rossouw, Assistant Professor and Director of the Creative Writing program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Dr. Rossouw recently attended the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900, at the University of Louisville in February. There he presented excerpts from his in-progress poetry book titled, Starlight Archive, which are ecologically focused and engage with the crossover between language, consciousness, and animal studies. Dr. Rossouw also attended the Minnesota Northwoods Writers’ Conference held at Bemidji State University, where he presented his newer works.
These conferences were extremely important in showcasing Dr. Rossouw’s work and promoting the university. Dr. Rossouw explains that these conferences have a profound impact on the English Department and Creative Writing programs at UL. UL has recently achieved the status of an R1 institution, and to maintain that status the influx of dissertation/thesis contributions are a must. He states, “Anytime I present my Creative Writing at conferences like the ones above, which have a large number of MA/MFA students in attendance, it also helps attract potential PhD students to study at UL Lafayette.” These conferences help to draw in potential scholars into the university, further boosting the reputation of UL as a site for groundbreaking research and creativity.
The reaction to Dr. Rossouw’s works at these conferences was enthusiastically positive and helped to establish his work and promote the university. Without the help from the Friends of the Humanities foundation and their travel grant funding, travel would have been impossible to these conferences. He was able to visit Lake Bemidji near the Boundary Waters in Minnesota, this lake being located only 50 miles from the source of the Mississippi River. Dr. Rossouw iterates that his experience at these conferences were positive and that after all the presentations, workshops, and readings, swimming in Lake Bemidji was the icing on the cake.