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Rencontres américaines

Encounters between Anglo-Americans and French Americans in Kate Chopin’s Short Stories

Florian Freitag

Pages 409 - 426


This article uses a revisionist approach to American local-color fiction—one that combines historicist or ideological hegemonic readings of local color as imperialistic with feminist, counterhegemonic analyses of the genre as a literature of resistance—to examine the depiction of Anglo-American characters in Kate Chopin’s short fiction in general and of their encounters with French Americans (Creoles and Cajuns) in particular. I argue that Chopin’s stories rely solely on the category of cultural affiliation (as opposed to a combination of the categories of race, class, gender, age, and geographical origin) to distinguish between Anglo- and French Americans and thus construct members of both cultural groups as regional characters. However, the texts nevertheless consistently associate Anglo-Americans with metropolitan, hegemonic, and French Americans with provincial, resistant perspectives. This categorization of Anglo-Americans as agents of cultural imperialism and of French Americans as resistant provincials is further confirmed by the texts’ regionalist critiques of Anglo-Americans and their local-color depictions of French Americans, which are continuously played off against and most often also balance each other.


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