A jungle of anxious desires : representing New Orleans, 1880–2005

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Title: A jungle of anxious desires : representing New Orleans, 1880–2005
Author: Watts, Tracey Ann
Abstract: New Orleans has been the subject of a narrative of exoticization throughout much of its history as an American space . The dominant trend in representation casts this city as a lush site of strangeness , intercultural confusion , enchantment , and , occasionally , an alternatively transformative or annihilative freedom . My project travels across genres and critical frameworks to explore the history and development of the narrative of New Orleans’ exoticism in literary and public discourse . The narrative’s evocative rhetoric , including the frequent appearance of the term “jungle ,” and its emphasis on both charm and degeneracy encode larger doubts over the ability of the city to fit national ideals . These codes draw on a negative racial imaginary and manifest as sentiments of anxiety and desire over the crossing of nationally normative racial and sexual boundaries . Although the generative position of the narrative has gone largely unrecognized , it surfaces in multiple contexts and in concert with larger discursive trends , such as 19th century interests in racially exclusive American nationalism and 20th century fears of a racialized , sexualized other . This project pays particular attention to the articulations of the narrative in George Washington Cable’s novel The Grandissimes and in the New Orleans -based works of Tennessee Williams . It also explores challenges to the narrative offered by contemporary poets Brenda Marie Osbey and Joy Harjo . Additionally , it investigates the recycling of the narrative in contemporary political discourse .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2009 -05 -116
Date: 2010-06-04

Citation

A jungle of anxious desires : representing New Orleans, 1880–2005. Doctoral dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2009 -05 -116 .

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