Louisiana Creole Literature: A Historical Study

Posted in Biography, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-12-05 20:01Z by Steven

Louisiana Creole Literature: A Historical Study

University Press of Mississippi
256 pages
6 x 9 inches, bibliography, index
Hardback ISBN: 9781617039102

Catharine Savage Brosman, Professor Emerita of French
Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

Louisiana Creole Literature is a broad-ranging critical reading of belles lettres—in both French and English—connected to and generally produced by the distinctive Louisiana Creole peoples, chiefly in the southeastern part of the state. The book covers primarily the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the flourishing period during which the term Creole had broad and contested cultural reference in Louisiana.

The study consists in part of literary history and biography. When available and appropriate, each discussion–arranged chronologically–provides pertinent personal information on authors, as well as publishing facts. Readers will find also summaries and evaluation of key texts, some virtually unknown, others of difficult access. Brosman illuminates the biographies and works of Kate Chopin, Lafcadio Hearn, George Washington Cable, Grace King, and Adolphe Duhart, among others. In addition, she challenges views that appear to be skewed regarding canon formation. The book places emphasis on poetry and fiction, reaching from early nineteenth-century writing through the twentieth century to selected works by poets still writing in the early twenty-first century. A few plays are treated also, especially by Victor Séjour. Louisiana Creole Literature examines at length the writings of important Francophone figures, and certain Anglophone novelists likewise receive extended treatment. Since much of nineteenth-century Louisiana literature was transnational, the book considers Creole-based works which appeared in Paris as well as those published locally.

Catharine Savage Brosman, Houston, Texas, is professor emerita of French at Tulane University. She is the author of numerous books of French literary history and criticism, two volumes of nonfiction prose, and nine collections of poetry.


  • Preface
  • Chapter One. Louisiana and Its Population: The Historical Background
  • Chapter Two. Features of Early Louisiana Literature and the Cultural Milieu
  • Chapter Three. Pere Rouquette and Other Early Francophone Poets
  • Chapter Four. Mercier and Other Novelists Born in the Early Nineteenth Century
  • Chapter Five. Mid-Nineteenth-Century Immigrant Francophone Authors
  • Chapter Six. Fiction and Drama by Mid-Nineteenth-Century Free People of Color
  • Chapter Seven. Poetry by Mid-Nineteenth-Century Free People of Color
  • Chapter Eight. Cable and Hearn
  • Chapter Nine. Late Francophone Figures: de la Houssaye, du Quesnay, Dessommes
  • Chapter Ten. Kate Chopin
  • Chapter Eleven. King, Stuart, and Others
  • Chapter Twelve. Some Twentieth-Century Louisiana Prose Writers
  • Chapter Thirteen. Louisiana Creole Poets of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
  • Notes
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Race marks: Miscegenation in nineteenth-century American fiction

Posted in Dissertations, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Slavery, United States on 2010-03-24 01:58Z by Steven

Race marks: Miscegenation in nineteenth-century American fiction

University of Massachusetts, Amherst
195 pages

Kimberly Anne Hicks

This dissertation examines the process of miscegenation in the work of four authors who occupy pivotal positions in American writing about race. It is concerned with a variety of fictional and non-fictional texts produced by William Wells Brown, George Washington Cable, Pauline Hopkins, and Thomas Dixon between the years 1846 and 1915. This study will examine how miscegenation provided these authors with a way of narrativizing American race relations in a period which encompasses slavery, emancipation, Reconstruction and Redemption, as well as the creation of a segregated South and an imperial America.

Individual chapters engage in cultural as well as literary analyses by reading mixed-race characters as literary signs which gave rise to a wide range of narrative possibilities, as political instruments which allowed each author to intervene in contemporary debates about the construction of American history, the nature of race, and laws designed to regulate interracial contact. While remaining aware of the personal and political differences which separate the writers under consideration, this study notes similarities in the ways in which each makes use of mixed-race characters and miscegenation plots.

Attention to gender likewise unites the individual chapters. The fact of mixed parentage signifies differently for male and female characters, no matter what plot these authors chose. For each, the figure of the quadroon woman presented special problems, as indicated by the sheer number of pages each devoted to telling child re-telling her story. This study traces the permutations of plots centered around quadroon women by reading a number of fictional works by each of the primary authors. It also examines the ways in which constructions of gender are overdetermined by methods of race representation which appear in the works of African-American writers, as well as in that of their white counterparts.

By focusing on a works which illustrate the interconnectedness between black and white Americans from slavery through segregation–works created by authors who themselves represent, in their persons as well as their politics, a variety of subject positions–this dissertation seeks to locate itself in the context of current efforts to produce a new canon of American literature, one more truly reflective of the varied nature of American life. It examines a literature not of race, but of race relations; one which repeatedly describes positions on a racial continuum too complicated to be characterized in terms of black and white.

Read or purchase the dissertation here.

Tags: , , , ,

The Literary Career of Charles W. Chesnutt

Posted in Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2009-11-02 02:17Z by Steven

The Literary Career of Charles W. Chesnutt

Louisiana State University Press
March 1999
312 pages
Trim: 6 x 9
Paper ISBN-13: 9780807124529

William L. Andrews, E. Maynard Adams Professor of English
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

The career of any black writer in nineteenth-century American was fraught with difficulties, and William Andrews undertakes to explain how and why Charles Waddell Chesnutt (1858-1932) became the first Negro novelist of importance: “Steering a difficult course between becoming co-opted by his white literary supporters and becoming alienated from then and their access to the publishing medium, Chesnutt became the first Afro-American writer to use the white-controlled mass media in the service of serious fiction on behalf of the black community.”

Awarded the Spingarn Medal in 1928 by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP], Chesnutt admitted without apologies that because of his own experiences, most of his writings concentrated on issue about racial identity. Only one-eighth Negro and able to pass for Caucasian, Chesnutt dramatized the dilemma of others like him. The House Behind the Cedars (1900), Chesnutt’s most autobiographical novel, evokes the world of “bright mulatto” caste in post-Civil War North Carolina and pictures the punitive consequences of being of mixed heritage.

Chesnutt not only made a crucial break with many literary conventions regarding Afro-American life, crafting his authentic material with artistic distinction, he also broached the moral issue of the racial caste system and dared to suggest that a gradual blending of the races would alleviate a pernicious blight on the nation’s moral progress. Andrews argues that “along with [George Washington] Cable in The Grandissimes and Mark Twain in Pudd’nhead Wilson, Chesnutt anticipated [William] Faulkner in focusing on miscegenation, even more than slavery, as the repressed myth of the American past and a powerful metaphor of southern post-Civil War history.” Although Chesnutt’s career suffered setback and though he was faced with compromises he consistently saw America’s race problem as intrinsically moral rather than social or political. In his fiction he pictures the strengths of Afro-Americans and affirms their human dignity and heroic will.

William L. Andrews provides an account of essentially all that Chesnutt wrote, covering the unpublished manuscripts as well as the more successful efforts and viewing these materials in the context of the author’s times and of his total career. Though the scope of this book extends beyond textual criticism, the thoughtful discussions of Chesnutt’s works afford us a vivid and gratifying acquaintance with the fiction and also account for an important episode in American letters and history.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Barriers between Us: Interracial Sex in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

Posted in Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2009-09-03 02:06Z by Steven

Barriers between Us: Interracial Sex in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

Indiana University Press
160 pages
1 bibliog., 1 index, 6.125 x 9.25
Paper ISBN-13: 978-0-253-21733-2; ISBN: 0-253-21733-4

Cassandra Jackson, Professor of English
The College of New Jersey

This provocative book examines the representation of characters of mixed African and European descent in the works of African American and European American writers of the 19th century.  The importance of mulatto figures as agents of ideological exchange in the American literary tradition has yet to receive sustained critical attention. Going beyond Sterling Brown’s melodramatic stereotype of the mulatto as “tragic figure,” Cassandra Jackson’s close study of nine works of fiction shows how the mulatto trope reveals the social, cultural, and political ideas of the period. Jackson uncovers a vigorous discussion in 19th-century fiction about the role of racial ideology in the creation of an American identity.  She analyzes the themes of race-mixing, the “mulatto,” nation building, and the social fluidity of race (and its imagined biological rigidity) in novels by James Fenimore Cooper, Richard Hildreth, Lydia Maria Child, Frances E. W. Harper, Thomas Detter, George Washington Cable, and Charles Chesnutt.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,