Download Becoming Cajun, Becoming American: The Acadian in American by Maria Hebert-Leiter PDF

By Maria Hebert-Leiter

From antebellum occasions, Louisiana's exact multipartite society integrated a criminal and social house for middleman racial teams similar to Acadians, Creoles, and Creoles of colour. In changing into Cajun, turning into American, Maria Hebert-Leiter explores how American writers have portrayed Acadian tradition during the last one hundred fifty years. Combining a learn of Acadian literary background with an exam of Acadian ethnic heritage in mild of modern social theories, she bargains perception into the Americanization approach skilled by means of Acadians--who over the years got here to be often called Cajuns--during the 19th and 20th centuries. Hebert-Leiter examines the total historical past of the Acadian, or Cajun, in American literature, starting with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Evangeline and the writings of George Washington Cable, together with his novel Bonaventure. The cultural complexity of Acadian and Creole identities led many writers to depend upon stereotypes in Acadian characters, yet as Hebert-Leiter indicates, the anomaly of Louisiana's type and racial divisions additionally allowed writers to deal with complicated and controversial--and occasionally taboo--subjects. She emphasizes the fiction of Kate Chopin, whose brief tales include Acadian characters accredited as white american citizens through the 19th and early 20th centuries. Representations of the Acadian in literature replicate the Acadians' course in the direction of assimilation, as they celebrated their changes whereas nonetheless adopting an all-American suggestion of self. In twentieth-century writing, Acadian figures got here to be extra known as Cajun, and more and more outsiders perceived them no longer easily as unique or mythic beings yet as advanced individuals who healthy into conventional American society whereas reflecting its cultural variety. Hebert-Leiter explores this transition in Ernest Gaines's novel a meeting of outdated males and James Lee Burke's detective novels that includes Dave Robicheaux. She additionally discusses the works of Ada Jack Carver, Elma Godchaux, Shirley Ann Grau, and different writers. From Longfellow via Tim Gautreaux, Acadian and Cajun literature captures the phases of this attention-grabbing cultural dynamism, making it a pivotal a part of any historical past of yankee ethnicity and of Cajun tradition specifically. Concise and available, turning into Cajun, changing into American presents an exceptional advent to American Acadian and Cajun literature.

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Extra resources for Becoming Cajun, Becoming American: The Acadian in American Literature from Longfellow to James Lee Burke (Southern Literary Studies)

Sample text

With Acadian Reminiscences, Voorhies created a tale that he hoped would “awaken cultural pride” (Brasseaux, In Search 19) and ended up initiating a specifically Louisiana interest in the Evangeline myth. In Voorhies’s version of the tale, “The narrator is a worldly wise matriarch who seeks to impress her young and impressionable grandchildren whom she considers guilty of ignoring their cultural and historical heritage and of embracing American materialism” (18). As Evangeline addressed the native literature argument and literary culture surrounding a New England poet, Voorhies’s tale also speaks to a cultural situation, specifically the cultural surroundings of Cajuns fifty years later and the growing process of American assimilation.

Based on the popularity of the Evangeline myth in Louisiana, the poem remains a reminder of the Acadian past and as such has continued to evolve in south Louisiana into the symbolic memory of Acadian settlement in Louisiana, either because Louisiana authors were influenced by Longfellow’s tale and its publishing success or because they wished to address the popularity of the poem as flawed because it does not rely on fact. 20 Pouponne, the heroine of the story, is separated from her lover, Balthazar, during the deportation.

By covering the entire geographical area of the nation, Longfellow 28 / Becomi ng Caj u n, Becoming A m er ica n c­ arefully constructed a work that spoke to contemporary American readers. Evangeline travels “Far in the West,” where “Westward the Oregon flows and the Walleway and the Owyhee” (1082). In this passage Longfellow recalls biblical images to address the plight of American expansion: “Over them [the lands of the West] wander the scattered tribes of Ishmael’s children, / Staining the desert with blood” (1095–96).

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