The Enslaver Enslaved: The Black Dominator in Creole Louisiana

Andia Augustin-Billy is Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Centenary College of Louisiana. She earned her Ph.D. in French Language and Literatures with a certificate in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies from Washington University in St. Louis in 2015. Her ongoing research interests and published scholarship include analysis of race, gender, and sexuality in French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean.

Love, sex, betrayal, and revenge abound in works written by 19th century Louisiana’s gens de couleur libres – free people of color. Written and published in French journals and newspapers, in New Orleans and Paris, these narratives constitute a remarkable part of American literature that has remained largely unexamined. The authors go beyond titillating tales to offer a biting critique of slavery, to advocate for racial and economic justice, and to diligently humanize the black experience. This talk will illuminate the ways in which Victor Séjour, Adolphe Duhart, and François-Michel-Samuel Snaër, inspired by the French and the Haitian Revolutions, dared to reimagine provocative possibilities for themselves and for future generations, in which black personhood, whether at home or in the diaspora, emerges unsullied from the spoils of oppression and jubilantly blossoms.