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Products for grant FEL-257721-18

Folklore Figures of French and Creole Louisiana
Nathan Rabalais, College of William and Mary

Grant details:

Folklore Figures of French and Creole Louisiana: An American Pantheon? (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Folklore Figures of French and Creole Louisiana: An American Pantheon?
Author: Nathan Rabalais
Abstract: The folklore of French- and Creole-speaking Louisiana is composed of many influences that reflect the diverse cultural landscape of the region. In the field of folklore, the linguistic barrier has posed problems of accessibility and accuracy of analyses. Earlier work (Bascom, Abraham) presented these tales exclusively in English translation and simply as part "Southern folklore". On the other hand, francophone scholars (Ancelet 1994, Rabalais 2015) have focused on the repertoire in the context of the greater francophonie. This presentation questions the prevalence of a folklore "pantheon" consisting of a handful of figures in popular representations, children's books, cultural festivals, etc. I argue that characters, especially the Rougarou and Bouki and Lapin, have enjoyed increased popularity over recent years because they are easily identifiable and similar to figures already present in American folklore (i.e. Werewolf and Brer Rabbit). Moreover, a survey of available collections (e.g. Fortier, Saucier, Claudel, Ancelet) indicate a much more varied cast of animal characters without a clear affinity for a few specific figures. This line of questioning can shed light on the specificity of Louisiana's French and Creole folklore, the interplay between French Louisiana and mainstream American culture, and the status of folklore's place in the popular imagination today.
Date: 03/23/2019
Conference Name: Louisiana Folklore Society annual meeting

« La tradition orale louisianaise dans le contexte francophone : au-delà des contes cadiens » (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: « La tradition orale louisianaise dans le contexte francophone : au-delà des contes cadiens »
Abstract: The oral tradition of French and Creole Louisiana is the result of a cultural brassage of numerous sources. Yet most undertakings in ethnology and folkloristics over the course of the 20th century have been limited to collection and linguistic studies with little regard for analysis of the this repertoire's content. Based on a more complete corpus that represents the the cultural diversity of the state, I aim to go beyond this monolithic understanding of the folk repertoire in order to better understand its adaptation to the sociocultural context of Louisiana.
Author: Nathan Rabalais
Date: 09/23/2019
Location: Université Laval
Primary URL: http://
Primary URL Description: This is the page that the Laval University library created for the event.

Folklore Figures of French and Creole Louisiana (Book)
Title: Folklore Figures of French and Creole Louisiana
Author: Nathan J. Rabalais
Abstract: In Folklore Figures of French and Creole Louisiana, Nathan J. Rabalais examines the impact of Louisiana’s remarkably diverse cultural and ethnic groups on folklore characters and motifs during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Establishing connections between Louisiana and France, West Africa, Canada, and the Antilles, Rabalais explores how folk characters, motifs, and morals adapted to their new contexts in Louisiana. By viewing the state’s folklore in the light of its immigration history, he demonstrates how folktales can serve as indicators of sociocultural adaptation as well as contact among cultural communities. In particular, he examines the ways in which collective traumas experienced by Louisiana’s major ethnic groups—slavery, the grand dérangement, linguistic discrimination—resulted in fundamental changes in these folktales in relation to their European and African counterparts. Rabalais points to the development of an altered moral economy in Cajun and Creole folktales. Conventional heroic qualities, such as physical strength, are subverted in Louisiana folklore in favor of wit and cunning. Analyses of Black Creole animal tales like those of Bouki et Lapin and Tortie demonstrate the trickster hero’s ability to overcome both literal and symbolic entrapment through cleverness. Some elements of Louisiana’s folklore tradition, such as the rougarou and cauchemar, remain an integral presence in the state’s cultural landscape, apparent in humor, popular culture, regional branding, and children’s books. Through its adaptive use of folklore, French and Creole Louisiana will continue to retell old stories in innovative ways as well as create new stories for future generations.
Year: 2021
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: The publisher's page for the book
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Amazon product page
Access Model: Hard cover and e-book for purchase
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780807174814
Copy sent to NEH?: No