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Creole Gatherings. Race, Collecting and Canon-building in New Orleans (1830-1930)

Rogg, Aline

Creole Gatherings examines the relationship between canon formation and belonging. It studies the evolution of a print culture in New Orleans during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and argues that textual collection and other paratextual practices were a means of claiming cultural belonging in a society organized around linguistic and racial hierarchies. It proposes an extensive study of the Creole print culture of New Orleans that also takes into account New Orleans’ position as a major American city that entertained connections with many other places in the Atlantic world. Stepping away from a regionalist framework, the dissertation seeks to expand existing literary scholarship on Louisiana and to participate in the production of knowledge about literary exchange in the Atlantic.

The dissertation examines the category of identification “Creole,” which became racialized in the late nineteenth century, and the emergence of a scholarly discourse about a “Creole literature.” It argues that two canons were established in the twentieth century, an Afro-Creole canon that would, in time, become affiliated to the canon of African-American literature, and a white Creole canon that would fail to become part of either the American or French canons that formed in the second half of the twentieth century. The study of these canons relies on the analysis of a variety of texts, mainly anthologies, literary criticism, bibliographical essays, collections of poetry, and the literary sections of newspapers. These constitute a continuity of practices indicative of an attempt to record and organize literary production. This study reveals a tension between goals of protecting one’s culture and incorporating it into an emerging field of study and underscores the racializing processes at play within the category of “Creole literature.” Highlighting connections between New Orleans and Haiti’s literary cultures in the nineteenth century, the dissertation points to the need for a large-scale transnational study of these two cultures.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
French and Romance Philology
Thesis Advisors
Dobie, Madeleine
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 29, 2021