Thursday, October 14, 2010

Petit Test 2

Questions for Petit Test 2 – A History of New Orleans: Nystrom

Since the last essay, the main focus of our course has been about the growth of antebellum New Orleans, particularly with regard to culture, ethnicity, and politics. Arguably, the debate over the meaning and cultural value of the term “Creole” can serve as a metaphor for the themes that we have covered. Your job will be to write an essay telling the history of antebellum New Orleans (broadly construed from the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to 1860) using “Creoles vs. Americans (and others)” as a window onto the key cultural, economic, demographic, and political developments in the city during this time period. Be sure to incorporate elements from your readings, lectures, class discussion, and film in your essay.


Some questions to consider in constructing your argument:

Does the notion of “Creole” reflect reality or is it a fabrication? Can it be both? If so, where do we draw the line? Does this line move over time?

To what extent has the “non-Creole,” or “other” defined “Creole?”

To what extent did the notion of “Creole” color all aspects of civic, political, and economic life in antebellum New Orleans?

If “Creole” is an overblown distinction in understanding antebellum New Orleans, how might we recast our narrative of the period’s most dominant themes?


Your first essays were an exercise in straightforward argument. Here you will need to take things to a new level by marshaling solid evidence in support of a nuanced thesis. You have much greater latitude in this assignment in that you will need to decide how much agency you afford to the notion of “Creole” in that it defines the antebellum city.

Word limit is set at 1800. This means that you will need to craft a tight essay with little to no fluff.

Essays are due at the beginning of class on Thursday, October 21, 2010

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