Rumors of Revolution: Song, Sentiment, and Sedition in Colonial Louisiana

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University of Virginia Press, 2023 - France - 248 pages
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In 1682 the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle claimed the Mississippi River basin for France, naming the region Louisiana to honor his king, Louis XIV. Until the United States acquired the territory in the Louisiana Purchase more than a century later, there had never been a revolution, per se, in Louisiana. However, as Jennifer Tsien highlights in this groundbreaking work, revolutionary sentiment clearly surfaced in the literature and discourse both in the Louisiana colony and in France with dramatic and far-reaching consequences.

In Rumors of Revolution, Tsien analyzes documented observations made in Paris and in New Orleans about the exercise of royal power over French subjects and colonial Louisiana stories that laid bare the arbitrary powers and abuses that the government could exert on its people against their will. Ultimately, Tsien establishes an implicit connection between histories of settler colonialism in the Americas and the fate of absolutism in Europe that has been largely overlooked in scholarship to date.

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About the author (2023)

Jennifer Tsien is Associate Professor of French at the University of Virginia and author of The Bad Taste of Others: Judging Literary Value in Eighteenth-Century France.

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