Below are biographical sketches of a few UL Folklore Studies students.
Aunya Byrd is currently finishing her doctoral requirements and is about to begin her Folklore dissertation on the Zulu Mardi Gras. Her study will look at the contributions members of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club have made to New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations, and how their masking and parading reflects controversial views of African Americans. Aunya Byrd received her undergraduate degree from Southern University at New Orleans. She has had poetry published in the Southwestern Review and Sticky Valentines. Her art has appeared on the cover of Thema, a literary magazine published in New Orleans. She has also had academic articles published in The Encyclopedia of American Children’s Literature, and Journal of American Folklore—forthcoming in Spring 2004.
Conni Maria Castille is an English M.A. student concentrating in folklore studies. She received her B.A. in Philosophy from UL in 1996. She is currently a full-time Research Associate for the Cognitive Evolution Group, a group dedicated to comparative behavioral research exploring similarities and differences between humans and chimpanzees.
Kristi Guillory has been a resident of Lafayette, LA since 1983. She was a professional Cajun musician for seven years until she entered the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as a full-time student in 1996. Kristi received a B.A. from UL Lafayette in 2001 in Modern Languages with a concentration in Francophone Studies and is currently a Ph.D. student in English with a folklore concentration. Her research interests include narrative, women’s studies, Louisiana Folklore and Cajun Music.
Sabrina LeBeouf is currently working on her M.A. in folklore studies. She received a B.A. in English at UL Lafayette in December of 2002. Sabrina is from Louisiana, born and raised in Crowley, and has been living in Lafayette for six years now. Her areas of interest are folk medicine, religious folklore, folklore and film, and folklore and technology.
James Reitter is currently finishing his doctoral requirements and is about to begin his Folklore dissertation on the perceptions of alligators, tracing the reptile’s relationship with humans. His study will look at both early American and British accounts of alligators in the 19th century, how film has influenced our perceptions, and exploring personal narratives of people who encounter the reptiles on a consistent basis. James received his undergraduate degree from SUNY Oswego and his M.F.A. from CUNY Brooklyn, but decided to switch from Creative Writing to Folklore upon his arrival in Louisiana. He is also a volunteer for the Zoo of Acadiana, and has written their newsletter for the past two years.
T.J. Smith, raised in the mountains of Northeast Georgia, attended Young Harris College, where he received his Associate of Arts degree in June 1997. Following a five-year break, during which he worked as a community journalist, carpenter, cattle farmer, and music critic, T.J. returned to academics at Georgia State University in 2002. There he studied Creative Writing and Folklore, earning his Bachelor of Arts and graduating Magna Cum Laude in May of 2003. Currently, T.J. is interested in community ethnography and tracing the migrations of certain material folk crafts (including carpentry and pottery) throughout the Southeastern U.S.
Darla Wells is working on a Ph.D. in English with a concentration in folklore studies, having completed her B.A. (Spanish/English) and M.A. (English Literature) at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. She is interested in doing dissertation work in North Louisiana and is desperately seeking an appropriate subject to investigate. Her interests include: urban legends, family history and folklore, literature, personal narrative, poetry, and North Louisiana folklore and folklife.
Document last revised
March 1, 2004