Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Her Space, Her Story: Francophone Women’s Writing In Louisiana

This dissertation explores the literary contributions of Francophone women in Louisiana. Though this corpus dates back to the 18th century and continues today, it has yet to receive serious critical attention. In my dissertation, I analyze the interplay between social, physical, and narrative spaces in the works of Louisiana Francophone women writers over the course of nearly three centuries. I begin in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, showing how the published autobiographical works of Marie Hachard and Désirée Martin circumnavigate the patriarchal institutions of family and convent that typically circumscribed the discursive space available to women at the time. My subsequent analysis of the novels of Marie Augustin and Sidonie de La Houssaye illustrates how gendered and racial hierarchies intersect in these novels, thereby implicitly problematizing the virulent racism of post-Reconstruction Louisiana. Finally, I look at how the late twentieth-century multilingual poetic works of Beverly Matherne and Deborah Clifton renegotiate the complex linguistic hierarchy that has stifled the use of French in Louisiana since the early twentieth century. My focus on how these authors’ gendered liminal discursive positions inform their approaches to gender, racial, and linguistic hierarchies shows that, despite their historic and generic diversity, they do constitute a specific and culturally relevant literary tradition. This dissertation thereby inserts this corpus into the larger framework of Francophone studies.