Coloring Locals: Racial Formation in Katie Chopin's "Youth's Companion" Stories
Coloring Locals examines how the late nineteenth-century politics of gender, class, race, and ethnicity influenced Kate Chopin's writing for the major family periodical of her time.
Chopin's canonical status as a feminist rebel and reformer conflicts with the fact that one of her most supportive publishers throughout her life was the Youth's Companion, a juvenile periodical whose thoroughly orthodox “family values” contributed to its success as the longest-running and, at one time, most widely circulating periodical in nineteenth-century America. Not surprisingly, Chopin’s Youth’s Companion stories differ from her canonical texts in that they embrace and advance ideals of orthodox white femininity and masculinity. Rather than viewing these two representations as being at odds with each other, Bonnie Shaker asserts that Chopin's endorsement of conventional gender norms is done in the service of a second political agenda beyond her feminism, one that can help the reader appreciate nuances of identity construction previously misunderstood or overlooked in the body of her work. Shaker articulates this second agenda as “the discursive act of coloring locals,” the narrative construction of racial difference for Louisiana peoples of African American, Native American, and French American ancestry. For Chopin, “coloring locals” meant transforming non-Louisianans’ general understanding of the Creole and Cajun as mixed-race people into “purely” white folks, this designation of whiteness being one that conferred not only social preferment but also political protections and enfranchisement in one of the most racially violent decades of U.S. history. Thus, when Chopin is concerned with coloring her beloved Louisiana Creoles and Cajuns “white,” she strategically deploys conventional femininity for the benefits it affords as a sign of middle-class respectability and belonging. Making significant contributions both to the scholarship on Kate Chopin and on race and gender construction, this sophisticated study will be of great interest to scholars and students of nineteenth-century ethnic and cultural studies as well as Chopin scholars.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Other editions - View all
African Americans ain’t antebellum articulates Aunt Minty authority Bayou behavior Bertrand Bibine bourgeois Cajun century character Charlie Charlie’s Chéri child Chopin wrote Chopin’s ﬁction Chopin’s stories Chopin’s text Chouchoute’s conﬂict construct Creoles and Cajuns cultural deﬁnitions Delmandé discourse Doctor John-Luis ethnic family’s father female femininity feminism feminist ﬁeld ﬁgure ﬁnally ﬁnd ﬁrst gender genteel ideal identity inﬂuence Jacqueline Jacqueline’s John-Luis’s juvenile Kate Chopin Learning Company Léontine literary Loka Loka’s Lolotte Lolotte’s Louisiana Louisiana Creoles Madame Carambeau magazine Mamouche Mamouche’s Mamzelle Adélaïde Marse Chouchoute masculinity Matter of Prejudice Melitte Melitte’s moral mother nineteenth-century nonetheless periodical editors plantation politics Polly Polly’s Polydore Polydore’s published race racial readers romanticized Rude Awakening short stories signiﬁcantly signiﬁer social southern speciﬁc Stéphanie theCompanion tion Tontine Toth tramp w’at Wash Wash’s white Anglo-Saxon Protestant white male white supremacy Wizard from Gettysburg woman womanhood women writing young Youth’s Companion