By Maria Hebert-Leiter
From antebellum instances, Louisiana's exact multipartite society incorporated a criminal and social house for middleman racial teams corresponding to Acadians, Creoles, and Creoles of colour. In turning into Cajun, turning into American, Maria Hebert-Leiter explores how American writers have portrayed Acadian tradition over the last one hundred fifty years. Combining a research of Acadian literary heritage with an exam of Acadian ethnic historical past in gentle of contemporary social theories, she bargains perception into the Americanization technique skilled by way of Acadians -- who through the years got here to be referred to as Cajuns -- through the 19th and 20th centuries.
Hebert-Leiter examines the total heritage 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 classification and racial divisions additionally allowed writers to handle advanced and debatable -- and occasionally taboo -- topics. She emphasizes the fiction of Kate Chopin, whose brief tales comprise Acadian characters accredited as white american citizens throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. Representations of the Acadian in literature replicate the Acadians' direction in the direction of assimilation, as they celebrated their alterations whereas nonetheless adopting an all-American proposal of self. In twentieth-century writing, Acadian figures got here to be extra known as Cajun, and more and more outsiders perceived them now not easily as unique or mythic beings yet as complicated people who healthy into conventional American society whereas reflecting its cultural variety. Hebert-Leiter explores this transition in Ernest Gaines's novel a meeting of previous 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 interesting cultural dynamism, making it a pivotal a part of any historical past of yankee ethnicity and of Cajun tradition particularly. Concise and available, turning into Cajun, turning into American offers an exceptional creation to American Acadian and Cajun literature.
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