Cultural Conversations Series


Celebrate New Orleans Culture

Evening sessions featured Loyola faculty and local experts on topics that range from the culinary traditions that have shaped New Orleans to the environmental issues that challenge its future.  The format is designed to encourage dialogue between speakers and audience and into the community beyond. 


Series Overview

March 8, 2018 | 7:00 p.m.
Krazy Kat: New Orleans and the Birth of the Modern Comic Strip
Michael Tisserand, New Orleans Author

George Herriman's "Krazy Kat" is widely considered the best comic strip in history and has influenced everything from Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse to Charles M. Schulz's "Peanuts" and Bill Watterson's "Calvin and Hobbes." In pictures, comics and film, Michael Tisserand shows how Herriman's childhood in New Orleans' Tremé neighborhood and his experiences "passing" for white influenced a comic strip that is still considered revolutionary today. 

Michael Tisserand is a New Orleans author and former editor of Gambit whose most recent book, Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White, was named in the New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2017, and was honored with the Eisner Award for best book about comics. Tisserand's other books include Sugarcane Academy and The Kingdom of Zydeco, which received the ASCAP Deems Taylor award for music writing.    


March 29, 2018 | 7:00 p.m.
The Spaghetti District:  How New Orleans put Italian Food on the Map
Dr. Justin Nystrom, Director, CSNO 

Dining is vital to the cultural economy of New Orleans. For at least a century and a half, tourists have come here to eat.  What these visitors sought out in the early twentieth century was not just oysters and gumbo, but also Italian food, then the hottest new trend in what we today call “ethnic cuisine.” Find out how the Sicilian immigrants who populated the turn-of-the-century French Quarter came to build a regional pasta empire and laid the foundation for the restaurant scene we know today. 

Justin Nystrom is Associate Professor of History at Loyola and Director of the Center for the Study of New Orleans.  He is the author of New Orleans after the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom and Creole Italian:  Sicilian Immigrants and the Shaping of New Orleans Food Culture


April 5, 2018 | 7:00 p.m.
History in a Glass:  New Orleans and the Sazerac Cocktail
Elizabeth Pearce, Cocktail Historian 

This dynamic, interactive cocktail presentation tells the story of New Orleans through one of its most iconic drinks: the Sazerac.  Join Drink & Learn owner Elizabeth Pearce as she regales you with the history of the city using only the ingredients in the city's official cocktail. Best way to learn, ever.

Elizabeth Pearce is a cocktail historian, writer, and guide. She is author of The French Quarter Drinking Companion and of the drinks-themed blog, Open Tab.


April 18, 2018 | 7:00 p.m.
Mirabeau Water Garden and Related Projects:  Inspired resilience.
Dr. Robert A. Thomas, Professor, School of Mass Communication, and Director, Loyola Center for Environmental Communication

New Orleans is recalibrating its water management strategies.  Stimulated by a thoughtful reevaluation by architect David Waggonner of the roles water may play in local resilience, emphasis is shifting from removing water from the city to retaining water and adjusting to its heretofore unseen benefits.  Discussion will enumerate new pathways to better living with water as a friend and not an enemy.

Robert Thomas is Professor of Mass Communication at Loyola and holds the Distinguished Scholar Chair in Environmental Communications.  He was Founding Director of the Louisiana Nature Center.  He is recipient of numerous awards for his work in conservation and environmental education.


Contact Information

For more information contact or call 504-865-3053.