Creole Echoes: The Francophone Poetry of Nineteenth-Century Louisiana

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Poetry, United States on 2013-12-09 04:15Z by Steven

Creole Echoes: The Francophone Poetry of Nineteenth-Century Louisiana

University of Illinois Press
January 2004
280 pages
6 x 9 in.
1 black & white photograph
Paper ISBN: 978-0-252-07149-2

Translated by:

Norman R. Shapiro, Professor of French
Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut

A collection of the first published works of Creole poets of the 1800s, in French, appearing beside the new English translations by the award-winning translator Norman R. Shapiro

Creole poets have always eluded easy definition, infusing European poetic forms with Louisiana themes and Native American and African influences to produce an impressive variety of often highly accomplished and always strikingly engaging verses. The first major collection of its kind, Creole Echoes contains over a hundred of these poems by more than thirty different poets—Louisiana residents of European, African, and Caribbean origin.

The poems gathered here exhibit the Creole poets’ wide range of theme, tone, and sensibility. Somber elegies, whimsical verse, animal fables, love sonnets, odes to nature, curses, polemics, and lauds all find voices here.

Tags: , ,

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: , , , , , , ,

Know Louisiana: Storyville (1897-1917)

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2013-11-15 02:31Z by Steven

Know Louisiana: Storyville (1897-1917)

NolaVie: Life and Culture in New Orleans

with Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

Emily Epstein Landau
Department of History
University of Maryland, College Park

As part of a new collaboration with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, NolaVie will spotlight entries from—the Digital Encyclopedia of Louisiana, including unique events and people in our state’s history.

This month, we commemorate the end of Storyville. On November 12th, 1917, Mayor Martin Behrman acquiesced to pressure from the US Navy and ordered the red light district closed at midnight. Here’s the story, written by Emily Landau.

Created by municipal ordinance in 1897, Storyville was New Orleans’s infamous red-light district. It remained open until 1917, when the federal government shut it down as part of a nationwide crackdown on vice districts. While Storyville was only one of many red-light districts during these years—every major and most minor American cities hosted at least one such district—it stood out for several reasons.

First, New Orleans had long maintained an international reputation for sexual license and a flamboyant disregard of traditional morality. Storyville’s notoriety perpetuated that image of the city and raised it to a new level. Second, New Orleans’s history as a French, and then Spanish, colonial city lent it a foreign feel, even after nearly a century of American rule. This foreign-ness, along with its subtropical climate and large mixed-race population, made New Orleans an exotic enclave within the Deep South.

Storyville took advantage of the city’s colorful history by promoting the availability of both “French” and “octoroon” women in its guidebooks and through tabloid press. “French,” in the context of a sex district, signaled special sexual services; women purported to be one-eighth black were available for the exclusive use of white gentlemen, recalling the antebellum quadroon balls. In addition to so-called octoroons, Storyville further violated the segregation laws by advertising “colored” and later “black” women for the use of white men. Sex across the color line was, according to a prominent citizen in the 1910s, Storyville’s “notorious attraction.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Rise and Demise of the Gens De Couleur Libre Artists in Antebellum New Orleans

Posted in Arts, Dissertations, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2013-10-10 21:08Z by Steven

The Rise and Demise of the Gens De Couleur Libre Artists in Antebellum New Orleans

University of Florida
173 pages

Karen Burt Coker


The gens de couleur libres of New Orleans occupied a unique position as worldly practitioners of the arts. This situation was created by social, legal and cultural circumstances. Louisiana, as a French colony, implemented the “Code Noir,” to control the large population of free people of color. These laws, although designed to control, granted opportunities for free people of color. This led to a three-caste social system with the gens de couleur libres occupying the central position, between whites and enslaved peoples.

Restrictions forbidding the marriage of free people of color to whites, or enslaved blacks, combined with the fact that free women of color outnumbered free men of color, led to the system of plaçage, an extralegal system of common-law marriage between white men and women of color. When children resulted from plaçage unions, additional laws sought to hinder those children from obtaining an education. This was remedied by the custom of wealthy white fathers sending their sons to Paris for schooling. This education frequently concentrated on the fine arts.

New Orleans was a rapidly growing city, eager to prove its sophistication and dispel any reputation as a backwater colony. The newly French-educated artists were eagerly received by Francophile New Orleans patrons keen for the newest demonstration of the superior culture of their motherland.

This thesis explores the work of these artists, while focusing upon the rise and fall of the tri-caste system that created a positive environment for artists of color when most free blacks faced open hostility elsewhere.

Read the entire thesis here.

Tags: , ,

Creole Culture: Identity and Race in the Bayou Country

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2013-09-23 19:05Z by Steven

Creole Culture: Identity and Race in the Bayou Country

Kreol Magazine
October-December 2013, Issue 7
pages 42-45

Christophe Landry

Louisiana is what many have come to refer to as the northern-most point of Latin America, where créolité, a Latin-based people, culture and consciousness, emerged early in the 1700s. From its earliest stages, the international melting pot of cultures that came to simmer along Louisiana’s bayous linked Louisiana Creoles with three continents in a global market economy including the Indian Ocean.

When the French crown ceded Louisiana to the Company of the Indies in 1717, Nantes (France), Goree (Senegal), Port-Louis (Mauritius), Saint-Denis (La Reunion) and New Orleans, became intimately related. For instance, between 1721 and 1745, 3,818 slaves were transported from Senegambia to Louisiana with roughly equal numbers destined for the Mascareigne Islands. In addition, Bretons, Picards and Normands came to represent the largest Francophone elements in early French Louisiana and in the French Indian Ocean islands. Not surprisingly, in Louisiana and in the Mascareignes, virtually the same Creole language developed, the first lengthy written examples of which date back to 1745 in Mauritius and 1748 in Louisiana.

As early as 1710, native-born Louisianians of Latin culture self-identified as Créole. Slave and free, tan, brown, yellow and fair have used Creole to differentiate themselves from Anglophones in North America. Where Spanish, Creole, and French languages were spoken and Catholicism practiced in Colonial Louisiana, people were sure to define themselves as Creole. This distinction between Américain and Créole became more pronounced after 1812 when Louisiana officially became an American state, and continued after the Civil War when Anglophone America’s binary racial system came to play a more immediate role in the socioeconomic destiny of Louisianians…

Read the entire article here or here.

Tags: ,

Quadroons for Beginners: Discussing the Suppressed and Sexualized History of Free Women of Color with Author Emily Clark

Posted in Articles, History, Interviews, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2013-09-07 16:42Z by Steven

Quadroons for Beginners: Discussing the Suppressed and Sexualized History of Free Women of Color with Author Emily Clark

The Huffington Post

Stacy Parker Le Melle, Workshop Director
Afghan Women’s Writing Project

“As a historian, I knew that mixed race women and interracial families were everywhere in America from its earliest days. And I knew that most of the free women of color in antebellum New Orleans bore no resemblance to the quadroons of myth.” —Dr. Emily Clark

As an American, I follow my roots like trails across the globe. My mother is from Kansas and is of German descent, and my deceased father was black with roots in North Carolina, and before then, Africa. Arguably you can trace all of us back to Africa. But my parents’ union created me: a black American woman, a woman of color, a mixed kid, a mulatta, maybe an Oreo, definitely a myriad of identities and categories to embrace or resist.

Living in Harlem, I see so many mixed marriages, mixed kids everyday all the time. Traveling the South, I see so many kids with the telltale curly locks. Growing up in Metro Detroit in the 80s, I knew there were other black & white mixes like me. I just didn’t know them. Only at college in Washington, DC, did I meet mixed girls and have them as friends. And not until my English, women’s studies, and African-American history courses did I learn any American history about women like me.

Before college, maybe I’d encounter a definition of “miscegenation” – that very special crime of racemixing in segregated America. And maybe an explanation of the “one drop rule” that went on to create the classifications of “mulatto” and “quadroon” and “octaroon“—your label dependent upon which fraction of African was in your genealogy. But that was it. In my high school American History texts, I don’t remember any acknowledgement of centuries of rape and consensual relationships between whites and blacks. None of my suburban history teachers lingered on the taboo. Maybe I didn’t either. When I think of the mania around racemixing, and of the cultural trope of the “tragic mulatta“—the woman doomed because she is too white for the blacks, too black for the whites—it was easy to assume that the history of mixed-race women in America was simple in its sadness and injustice.

Yet there is nothing simple about the American Quadroon. Once she was the picture of irresistible beauty, the symbol of a city thought of as irredeemably “other”, an earthbound goddess who conjured so much desire that white men made her concubines, and slavetraders scoured the states for enslaved girls that fit her description to fulfill buyer demand. That was the myth, the dominant story. But as Tulane historian Emily Clark writes in her richly-researched and compelling The Strange History of the American Quadroon: Free Women of Color in the Revolutionary Atlantic World (UNC Press), she was also a family-woman, marrying men of color, living the propriety dream in her New Orleans society. If her myth was simple in its power, her reality was rich and complicated—by no means a single story…

How do you define an “American Quadroon”?

Dr. Clark: There are really two versions. One is the virtually unknown historical reality, the married free women of color of New Orleans who were paragons of piety and respectability. The other is the more familiar mythic figure who took shape in the antebellum American imagination. If you asked a white nineteenth-century American what a quadroon was, they would answer that she was a light-skinned free woman of color who preferred being the mistress of a white man to marriage with a man who shared her racial ancestry. In order to ensnare white lovers who would provide for them, quadroons were supposedly schooled from girlhood by their mothers to be virtuosos in the erotic arts. When they came of age, their mothers put them on display at quadroon balls and negotiated a contract with a white lover to set the young woman up in a house and provide enough money to support her and any children born of the liaison. The arrangement usually ended in heartbreak for the quadroon when the lover left her to marry a white woman. If this sounds like a white male rape fantasy, that is exactly what it was. There is one other key characteristic of the mythic American Quadroon: she was to be found only in New Orleans…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Forgotten People: Cane River’s Creoles of Color (revised edition)

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Louisiana, Monographs, United States on 2013-09-05 21:53Z by Steven

The Forgotten People: Cane River’s Creoles of Color (revised edition)

Louisiana State University Press
November 2013 (First published in 1977)
480 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
25 halftones, 3 maps, 3 charts
Paperback ISBN: 9780807137130

Gary B. Mills (1944–2002), Professor of History
University of Alabama

Revised by:

Elizabeth Shown Mills

Foreword by:

H. Sophie Burton

Out of colonial Natchitoches, in northwestern Louisiana, emerged a sophisticated and affluent community founded by a family of freed slaves. Their plantations eventually encompassed 18,000 fertile acres, which they tilled alongside hundreds of their own bondsmen. Furnishings of quality and taste graced their homes, and private tutors educated their children. Cultured, deeply religious, and highly capable, Cane River’s Creoles of color enjoyed economic privileges but led politically constricted lives. Like their white neighbors, they publicly supported the Confederacy and suffered the same depredations of war and political and social uncertainties of Reconstruction. Unlike white Creoles, however, they did not recover amid cycles of Redeemer and Jim Crow politics.

First published in 1977, The Forgotten People offers a socioeconomic history of this widely publicized but also highly romanticized community—a minority group that fit no stereotypes, refused all outside labels, and still struggles to explain its identity in a world mystified by Creolism.

Now revised and significantly expanded, this time-honored work revisits Cane River’s “forgotten people” and incorporates new findings and insight gleaned across thirty-five years of further research. This new edition provides a nuanced portrayal of the lives of Creole slaves and the roles allowed to freed people of color, tackling issues of race, gender, and slave holding by former slaves. The Forgotten People corrects misassumptions about the origin of key properties in the Cane River National Heritage Area and demonstrates how historians reconstruct the lives of the enslaved, the impoverished, and the disenfranchised.

Tags: , , , ,

Not All Blacks Are African American: The Importance of Viewing Advisees as Individuals in a Culturally Mosaic Context

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2013-08-25 02:41Z by Steven

Not All Blacks Are African American: The Importance of Viewing Advisees as Individuals in a Culturally Mosaic Context

The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal
Pennsylvania State University

Mary M. Livingston, Professor of Psychology
Louisiana Tech University

Latoya Pierce, Assistant professor of Psychology
Louisiana Tech University

Lou’uan Gollop-Brown, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Louisiana Tech University

When an advisee walks through the door, it is important for an adviser to consciously refrain from making possibly fallacious assumptions about the advisee’s racial heritage on the basis of skin color. Of course, this is also a mistake that may also be made by the advisee. One author of this paper, who is from the Caribbean, was selected as a preferred adviser by many undergraduate African American advisees, because they felt, as one of them, she would know and understand their experiences. Initial impressions influence the adviser-advisee interaction. This is not to say that the adviser should eschew accurate cultural recognition, which may be an important part of an advisee’s identity and a key to understanding and communication. Instead, we should attempt to verify our assumptions since our suppositions may not be correct…

…An additional issue is the racial identity of individuals who consider themselves to be biracial or multiracial. Biracial is defined as “of, relating to, or involving members of two races” (Biracial, 2013). Multiracial is defined as “composed of, involving, or representing various races” (Multiracial, 2013). When individuals are biracial or multiracial, our human tendency to fit them into one category no longer works. Numerous times, biracial or multiracial advisees have told stories about meeting a person, and during the conversation, racial identity came up. The multiracial student was almost always asked to readily identify himself or herself as a member of an established racial group. The acronym VREG coincides with this experience. VREG stands for visibly recognizable ethic groups, and the concept speaks to our need to classify and recognize people as such (Helms & Cook, 1999)…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Plessy v. Ferguson: Race and Inequality in Jim Crow America

Posted in Books, History, Law, Louisiana, Monographs, United States on 2013-08-22 02:12Z by Steven

Plessy v. Ferguson: Race and Inequality in Jim Crow America

University Press of Kansas
April 2012
224 pages
5-1⁄2 x 8-1⁄2
Cloth ISBN 978-0-7006-1846-0
Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-1847-7

Williamjames Hull Hoffer, Associate Professor of History
Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey

Six decades before Rosa Parks boarded her fateful bus, another traveler in the Deep South tried to strike a blow against racial discrimination—but ultimately fell short of that goal, leading to the Supreme Court’s landmark 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. Now Williamjames Hull Hoffer vividly details the origins, litigation, opinions, and aftermath of this notorious case.

In response to the passage of the Louisiana Separate Car Act of 1890, which prescribed “equal but separate accommodations” on public transportation, a group called the Committee of Citizens decided to challenge its constitutionality. At a pre-selected time and place, Homer Plessy, on behalf of the committee, boarded a train car set aside for whites, announced his non-white racial identity, and was immediately arrested. The legal deliberations that followed eventually led to the Court’s 7-1 decision in Plessy, which upheld both the Louisiana statute and the state’s police powers. It also helped create a Jim Crow system that would last deep into the twentieth century, until Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and other cases helped overturn it.

Hoffer’s readable study synthesizes past work on this landmark case, while also shedding new light on its proceedings and often-neglected historical contexts. From the streets of New Orleans’ Faubourg Tremé district to the justices’ chambers at the Supreme Court, he breathes new life into the opposing forces, dissecting their arguments to clarify one of the most important, controversial, and socially revealing cases in American law. He particularly focuses on Justice Henry Billings Brown’s ruling that the statute’s “equal, but separate” condition was a sufficient constitutional standard for equality, and on Justice John Marshall Harlan’s classic dissent, in which he stated, “Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among its citizens.”

Hoffer’s compelling reconstruction illuminates the controversies and impact of Plessy v. Ferguson for a new generation of students and other interested readers. It also pays tribute to a group of little known heroes from the Deep South who failed to hold back the tide of racial segregation but nevertheless laid the groundwork for a less divided America.

Tags: , , , , ,

They Wouldn’t Allow Us to Use Daddy’s Last Name: A Family Historian’s Curiosity Leads to Revolutionary Results

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2013-07-29 01:20Z by Steven

They Wouldn’t Allow Us to Use Daddy’s Last Name: A Family Historian’s Curiosity Leads to Revolutionary Results

Bayou Talk Newspaper
Volume 25, Number 7 (July 2013)
pages 1-8

Anita R. Paul

Most family history researchers know that surnames are an important key to finding ancestors. They also know that names can often lead to dead ends due to misspellings and other misinformation. For Michael N. Henderson, a retired Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, the spelling of a family surname sparked his curiosity and eventually led to a nearly 30-year journey to uncover a hidden truth about his Louisiana roots.

“It all began when I was a kid,” recalls Henderson, a native of Algiers—a neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana—who now lives near Atlanta, Georgia. “I asked my mom why her mother’s maiden name was spelled Mathieu instead of Matthew.” She credited it to the family being Louisiana Creole and simply chose to spell the surname that way. Fortunately for Henderson, that answer did not satisfy him, so he sought a more suitable explanation. In the midst of his searching, which became a hobby and eventually an obsession during much of his naval career, he uncovered one fact after another about his family’s history and soon became the family historian, a role that did not always meet with genuine excitement from his relatives.

“When you start digging into the past, some family members get nervous. They’re afraid you might uncover some deep, dark secret that’s been buried for generations,” Henderson explains. Others, mostly those of the younger generation, simply shrugged off Henderson’s many attempts to share his findings. “My nieces and nephews have never been keen on listening to my ancestral stories, except, of course, when the time came for a school project.”

As his genealogy research continued, a conversation with a distant cousin opened a genealogical can of worms that caused Henderson to delve deeply into the unique three-tiered social structure of French and Spanish colonial Louisiana. He studied the Code Noir (Black Code) that regulated relationships between Europeans, Native American and African enslaved people, and the distinct class of free people of color…

…Uncovering this relationship revealed the answer to a haunting statement that had been in Henderson’s family for generations: “They wouldn’t allow us to use Daddy’s last name.” As Henderson discovered, Agnes assumed the first name of her French consort, Mathieu, as her own surname and passed it on to their mixed-race children and the generations following. This answered the question about the spelling of Henderson’s maternal grandmother’s surname and consequently exposed the answer to the generations-long lament about not being able to use “Daddy’s last name.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,