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Barry Jean Ancelet

Professor Emeritus of Francophone Studies

Doctorat de troisième cycle, Université de Provence [Aix-Marseille I]

Office: Griffin 418


Teaching and Research Areas

French Louisiana Folklore, Literature, Oral Tradition, and Music; Ethnolinguistics; Francophone North America


Barry Jean Ancelet is a native Louisiana French-speaking Cajun, born in Church Point and raised in Lafayette. He has been on the faculty at UL Lafayette since 1977, first as Director of the Center for Acadian and Creole Folklore, and later as a Professor of Francophone Studies and Folklore in the Department of Modern Languages. In 2005, he was named Willis Granger and Tom Debaillon / BORSF Professor of Francophone Studies, which he held until his retirement in 2015. As Professor Emeritus, he continues to make significant contributions to the university, its students, and the community.

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 One Generation at a Time: Biography of a Cajun and Creole Music Festival (Lafayette: UL Center for Louisiana Studies, 2007), Cajun and Creole Music Makers (formerly The Makers of Cajun Music [1984]; revised edition, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999), Cajun Country (Jackson: U 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: UL Center for Louisiana Studies, 1989) and Cajun Music: Origins and Development (Lafayette: UL Center for Louisiana Studies, 1989). He is a member of the team, coordinated by Albert Valdman of Indiana University, that produced the Dictionary of Louisiana French as Spoken in Cajun, Creole and American Indian Communities (Jackson: U Press of Mississippi, 2009), as well as the team that produced the Anthologie de la littérature louisianaise d’expression française de 1682 à nos jours (Lafayette: UL Press, and Sudbury: Editions Prise de Parole, 2017). With Carl Lindahl and Marcia Gaudet, he edited Second Line Rescue: Improvised Responses to Katrina and Rita (Jackson: U Press of Mississippi, 2013). 

He directs Lafayette’s Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, an annual event he helped to found in 1974. He has served as a consultant and fieldworker for several documentary films and was 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 hosted the Rendez-vous des Cajuns live weekly music radio program on KRVS for twenty-four years. He served as 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. In 2018, the Library of Congress interviewed him about the revival and revitalization of Cajun and Creole music and culture in Louisiana.

Under his nom de plume, Jean Arceneaux, he has given poetry readings, as well as storytelling and musical performances throughout Francophone North America and in France, and he was the second Poet Laureate of Francophone Louisiana. In addition to writing poetry, he has written children's books and collaborated with musician Sam Broussard on a Grammy-nominated album, Broken Promised Land.

He is a Chevalier in France’s Palmes Académiques and in France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, a member of Quebec’s Ordre des Francophones d’Amérique, and a Fellow of the American Folklore Society. In 2009 he was named Humanist of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette's library holds his collected papers.