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Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco: Readings in Louisiana Culture

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Overview

The detectable identity of southern Louisiana's one-of-a-kind culture has been expressed in numerous descriptive phrases--"south of the South," "the northern tip of the Caribbean," "this folklore land." A strange, piquant, and savory mixture, it also has been likened to one of the region's signature dishes, gumbo.

Capturing this elusive culture and its charm has challenged many authors, anthropologists, and anthologists. Coming perhaps closest of any book yet published, this new anthology of readings affords reflections on southern Louisiana's distinctive traditions, folklore, and folklife. Crystalizing its rich diversity and character, these sharply focused essays are a precise introduction to aspects that too often are diffused in sundry discussions of general Deep South culture. Here, each is seen distinctly, precisely, and uniquely.

Written by leading scholars, the thirteen essays focus on many subjects, including the celebration of Mardi Gras and of Christmas, Louisiana foodways, the delineation between Cajun and Creole, the African Americans and Native Americans of the region, Zydeco music, and Cajun humor.

The essays show great range and are reprinted from hard-to-find publications. They include a description of Cajun Country Mardi Gras on the prairies of southwestern Louisiana, an analysis of the social implications of the New Orleans Mardi Gras parades, a study of the Houma Indians of coastal Louisiana, and an analysis of the devotion given to a young Cajun girl whom many regard as a saint.

Collected here, the essays portray a land and a people that are unlike any other.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578065301
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
  • Publication date: 4/15/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 4.80 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Marcia Gaudet, a professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is the author of Tales from the Levee: The Folklore of St. John the Baptist Parish and Porch Talk with Ernest Gaines: Conversations on the Writer's Craft.

James C. McDonald, a professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is the editor of The Allyn and Bacon Sourcebook for College Writing Teachers.

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Table of Contents

Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco: An Introduction to Louisiana Culture
Ch. 1 Mardi Gras and the Media: Who's Fooling Whom? 3
Ch. 2 Buffalo Bill and the Mardi Gras Indians 16
Ch. 3 Every Man a King: Worldview, Social Tension, and Carnival in New Orleans 26
Ch. 4 Mardi Gras Chase 42
Ch. 5 The New Orleans King Cake in Southwest Louisiana 48
Ch. 6 Christmas Bonfires in South Louisiana: Tradition and Innovation 59
Ch. 7 The Creole Tradition 71
Ch. 8 Hidden Nation: The Houmas Speak 80
Ch. 9 Some Accounts of Witch Riding 89
Ch. 10 Charlene Richard: Folk Veneration among the Cajuns 103
Ch. 11 Ote Voir Ta Sacree Soutane: Anti-Clerical Humor in French Louisiana 123
Ch. 12 The Social and Symbolic Uses of Ethnic/Regional Foodways: Cajuns and Crawfish in South Louisiana 134
Ch. 13 Is It Cajun, or Is It Creole? 150
Suggestions for Further Reading on Louisiana Culture 154
Notes on Contributors 156
Questions and Topics for Classroom Discussion and Writing Assignments 158
Index 171
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