Student with local ties receives prestigious graduate writing fellowship

By Elmetra Patterson


On July 4, 2013, following the deliberations of the Scientific Evaluation Committee of the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, France, winners for the 2013-2014 year for the graduate writing fellowships were announced on the Internet. Local resident, Reginald Patterson, was listed below in their announcement as #1 of the 3 fellowships awarded, with the other two students being from France:

Reginald PATTERSON (Romance Studies, Duke University, USA)

“Bamboo Concording the Canon: A cartography of The Bamboos: Fables of La Fontaine disguised as an old Creole patois by Commander (1846, 1869, 1885, 1931, 1976, 2002).”

What a great opportunity for a young man with roots in Louisville, MS and Richmond, CA. He is the son of Elmetra Patterson and Eddie Littleton of Louisville, MS who moved to Louisville, from California in 2006. Reggie owes much to his 94 year old grandmother, Betsy Ann Eichelberger, who encouraged him to be a trailblazer and accept admissions to Duke University, Durham, NC. He was hesitant because of the lack of diversity among the staff and students in the Francophone Department. He was accepted at various other great colleges and Universities and actually wanted to attend Northwestern University but listened to his grandmother and accepted graduate school at Duke. He is the first to receive this Quai Branly fellowship as an Oberlin College/Conservatory undergraduate and Duke University graduate student. He is, also, the first to receive this fellowship with a major in Romance Studies. Most of the previous winners have been Anthropology and Archaeology students.

Reggie has received numerous awards, fellowships and scholarships but this one was most competitive and it ‘raises the bar’ for his career as a professor, researcher and writer. According to Reggie, “my feet have not touched the ground since I found out I won”. He was one of hundreds from around the world who applied for this fellowship and was shocked that he made the first round as one of the 75 finalists. After that announcement, he had to wait several months before the three winners were announced on July 4, 2013. His feet left the ground when he saw on the internet that he was chosen as #1 of the 75 finalist. What an Independence Day Celebration that was. He later received his official notification.

This award will give him the opportunity to complete his dissertation at the museum with a generous monthly stipend. He will be integrated into the activities of the team of the Department of Research and Education with his own office and website. Reggie will be living there from October 1, 2013 – September 30, 2014. However, he will return to the USA to participate in the graduation ceremony May 11, 2014 at Duke University to receive his doctorate degree.

The musée du quai Branly is the newest museum in Paris. It is located in the heart of Paris’s museum land, neighboring the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, a few minutes from the Grand and Petit Palais, the Palais de Tokyo and the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris. The Musée du quai Branly has an exceptional location on the banks of the River Seine, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The arts of Africa, Oceania, Asia, and the Americas now form part of the historical and artistic grand tour of the capital with over 3,500 exhibited. The Musée du quai Branly is an innovative cultural institution – museum, educational and research centre, and public living space all in one. Built on one of the last available sites in the heart of Paris, the architectural design of this original project is the work of Jean Nouvel.

Reggie Patterson is an accomplished violinist and violist with a BM from the Oberlin Conservatory. His dream is to perform violin concertos by composer/violinist, Boulogne Chevalier De Saint Georges while at the musée du quai Branly. Reggie is passionate about teaching the history of this 18th century Afro Frenchman who was a composer, violinist, fencer, dancer and colonel in the French Revolution. Other than a biography, The Chevalier De Saint Georges Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow by Gabriel Banat, there is little mention of him in the history books. He is known as the Black Mozart when in actuality Mozart was more of a student of Saint Georges’. Reggie performed and lectured in a 3 day event at Duke University The Knights Blues in honor of Saint Georges in April 2011. He presented a mini version of the event at the Berlin Institute of Cultural Diplomacy,Berlin, Germany, February 2012

The Quai Branly Fellowship is a dream and an opportunity for several other dreams to come to fruition for Reginald Patterson who as a kindergartner student was told he could not learn because he had ADHD and could not be still, according to his mother Elmetra Patterson. It looks like he can’t be still because he has traveled the world with his gifts for music and languages since 6th grade and he is definitely learning.