Barry Jean Ancelet is a native Louisiana French-speaking Cajun, born in Church Point and raised in Lafayette. He graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana with a BA in French in 1974. He received an MA in Folklore from Indiana University in 1977, and a doctorate in Études Créoles (anthropology and linguistics) from the Université de Provence (Aix-Marseille I) in 1984. He has been on the faculty at USL since 1977, first as Director of the Center for Acadian and Creole Folklore, and later as a Professor of Folklore and Francophone Studies in the Department of Modern Languages, which he currently chairs.
He has given numerous papers and published numerous articles and several books on various aspects of Louisiana's Cajun and Creole cultures and languages, including Cajun and Creole Music Makers (formerly The Makers of Cajun Music ; revised edition, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999), Cajun Country (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1991), and Cajun and Creole Folktales (New York: Garland Publishing, 1994), as well as two monographs, Capitaine, voyage ton flag: The Cajun Country Mardi Gras (Lafayette: USL Center for Louisiana Studies, 1989) and Cajun Music: Origins and Development (Lafayette: USL Center for Louisiana Studies, 1989).
He is interested in expanding the classroom through festivals, special concerts, records, museum exhibitions, documentary films, and television and radio programs (such as the "Rendez-vous des Cadiens," a weekly live radio show from the Liberty Theater in Eunice, Louisiana). He has served as a consultant and fieldworker for several documentary films, including Pat Mire's Dance for a Chicken: The Cajun Mardi Gras and Anything I Catch: The Handfishing Story, Karen Snyder's Cajun Crossroads, Alan Lomax's Lache pas la patate: Cajun Country, André Gladu's Zarico; Yannick Resch's Les Cajuns, Chris Strachwitz's J'ai été au bal: The Cajun and Zydeco Music of Louisiana, and Glen Pitre's Good for What Ails You, as well as Côte Blanche's Conteurs de la Louisiane radio storytelling series. He served as associate producer, along with Zachary Richard, and principal scholar, along with Carl Brasseaux, for Pat Mire's Against the Tide: The Story of the Cajun People of Louisiana, a production of Louisiana Public Broadcasting and Louisiana's Department of Cultural, Recreation and Tourism.
He served as co-curator for the Modern Language Association's exhibition, Linguistic Diversity in the United States, and was director of the team of scholars that provided the basic research to the National Park Service for the development of the Jean Lafitte National Park's three Acadian Culture Interpretive Centers. He is a member of France's Palmes Académiques and Quebec's Ordre des Francophones d'Amérique.
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