English Students Showcase Two Collections in HFU Library

It is understandable why Dr. Robert Ficociello recently tasked his English 241 students with curating a display in the Holy Family University library, following a recent lesson on the literature and culture of New Orleans. Ficociello began a love affair with the Big Easy after earning his Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of New Orleans.

“I wanted students to physically touch parts of New Orleans instead of only reading,” he said.

Each of his students curated a topic related to The Crescent City – its unique art, music, literature, and even the impact of Hurricane Katrina – and then collaborated on the arrangement of the display that featured the works of William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Louis Armstrong, Anne Rice, and John Kennedy Toole. Dr. Ficociello contributed his personal effects to the exhibit, including a flag, selected art, and Mardi Gras mementos.

“This library assignment differed from a regular writing assignment just doing research or finding textual evidence ,” said Lily Marchiafava ’27. “We were able to find sources  on New Orleans and use our creativity to create a display. This included colors, sparked conversations, and allowed for us to use another side of ourselves in our work.”

Additionally, Dr. Ficociello’s  journalism students created a pyramid display of iconic journalists including, Ida B. Wells, Joseph Pulitzer, Walter Cronkite, Gloria Steinem, and Nellie Bly, and incorporated significant headlining events in the display that has also found a temporary home in the library.

“I thoroughly enjoyed this project,” said Kaitlyn Cross ’24. “Sometimes, sitting in the same classroom and working on the same projects can get mundane. With this new project, I was beyond excited to work with the library staff and construct a project that showcased my passion for English and journalism. Also, by building this display, I think it helped bring awareness to the English department and the courses they offer, which is an additional bonus.”

“We are grateful to research librarian Melissa Norman with assisting us and finding display space in the library for these projects,” Dr. Ficociello said. “In spring of 2025, I hope to bring a study abroad group to New Orleans for a real immersive experience.”

Visitors can view the curated collections through May 10, 2024.



Jan Giel