Now Available from Duke University Press
Disenchanting Les Bons Temps: Identity and Authenticity in Cajun Music and Dance
Charles J. Stivale
The expression laissez les bons temps rouler-"let the good times roll"-conveys the sense of exuberance and good times associated with southern Louisiana's vibrant cultural milieu. Yet, for Cajuns, descendants of French settlers exiled from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the mid-eighteenth century, this sense of celebration has always been mixed with sorrow. By focusing on Cajun music and dance and the ways they convey the dual experiences of joy and pain, Disenchanting Les Bons Temps illuminates the complexities of Cajun culture. Charles J. Stivale shows how vexed issues of cultural identity and authenticity are negotiated through the rich expressions of emotion, sensation, sound, and movement in Cajun music and dance.
Stivale combines his personal knowledge and love of Cajun music and dance with the theoretical insights of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to consider representations of things Cajun. He examines the themes expressed within the lyrics of the Cajun musical repertoire and reflects on the ways Cajun cultural practices are portrayed in different genres including feature films, documentaries, and instructional dance videos. He analyzes the dynamic exchanges between musicians, dancers, and spectators at such venues as bars and music festivals. He also considers a number of thorny socio-political issues underlying Cajun culture, including racialtensions and linguistic isolation. At the same time, he describes various efforts by contemporary musicians and their fans to transcend the limitations of cultural stereotypes and social exclusion.
CHARLES J. STIVALE is Professor of French at Wayne State University. He is the author of several books including The Two-Fold Thought of Deleuze and Guattari: Intersections and Animations.
"Disenchanting Les Bons Temps is an outstanding and original contribution to both the literatures on popular/folk music and to contemporary debates about the practice of cultural studies."-Lawrence Grossberg, author of Bringing It All Back Home: Essays on Cultural Studies
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"Charles J. Stivale has a unique ability to bring together his deep and fluent understanding of Deleuzean theory with his passion and enthusiasm for Cajun music. It's not an obvious combination of elements, but Stivale pulls it off with grace and skill. I attribute that to the clear way that his love for the diverse ingredients of this scholarly gumbo shine through his prose."-Gilbert B. Rodman, author of Elvis after Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend
2003. 232 pp.
ISBN 0-8223-3020-2, paper $19.95
ISBN 0-8223-3033-4, library cloth $59.95
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