Title page for ETD etd-04252012-225800

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Levin, Cherry Lynne
Author's Email Address clevin2@tigers.lsu.edu
URN etd-04252012-225800
Title Wedding Belles and Enslaved Brides: Louisiana Plantation Weddings in Fact, Fiction and Folklore
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Lowe, John Committee Chair
Costello, Brannon Committee Member
deCaro, Frank Committee Member
ware, carolyn Committee Member
Bach, Jacqueline Dean's Representative
  • weddings
  • Louisiana
  • plantation
Date of Defense 2012-04-17
Availability unrestricted
Wedding Belles and Enslaved Brides: Louisiana Plantation Weddings in Fact, Fiction and Folklore

Dissertation directed by Professor John Wharton Lowe, Robert Penn Warren Professor of English

Pages in dissertation, 380, Words in Abstract, 234


Along with rites of passage marking birth and death, wedding rituals played an important role in ordering social life on antebellum Louisiana plantations, not only for elite white families but also for the enslaved. Louisiana women's autobiographical accounts of plantation weddings yield considerable insights on the importance of weddings for Louisiana plantation women before, and especially during, the Civil War. Moreover, information contained within the Louisiana Writers' Project narratives reveal various types of wedding ritual used to unite the enslaved on Louisiana plantations despite laws and codes that prohibited slave unions. In contrast to these historical accounts, plantation weddings in the fictional imagination reveal that the figure of the bride reflects careful authorial negotiation of racialized and gendered ideologies. Fictional images found in a wide-ranging collection of texts portray the Louisiana plantation wedding as a site of struggle by white or black brides against racial and patriarchal constraints. Currently, heritage tourism perpetuates notions of whiteness on Louisiana plantations, fostering romantic nostalgia of the past and adaptation of that past into the present. For contemporary brides, choosing a Louisiana plantation as a wedding venue evokes stereotyical notions of the Old South in terms of gendered femininity. Yet, there is some indication that previously entrenched notions of racial and class hierarchies are slowly being overturned. This project begins with a reenacted wedding at Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, providing a discursive framework for examining the manner in which the white southern belle or the enslaved bride and her wedding on a Louisiana plantation recycle through historical, fictional and contemporary productions.

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