Date of Award

1995

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Peggy Prenshaw

Abstract

Roman was a New Orleans writer who contributed political editorials and works of fiction to the New Orleans Times Democrat for nearly twenty years beginning in 1891. She was a culturally-aware intellectual woman of the nineteenth century, and her works offer a clearer picture of the political, cultural, and historical post-Reconstruction South. In my extensive scholarly investigation of Roman's work, I began to realize that it was not enough to write about her life and works without making the primary texts, which are hidden away on microfilm in the rare book rooms of South Louisiana, accessible to scholars of Southern U.S., Louisiana, and U.S. women's history and literature. Thus, I have undertaken to produce a scholarly edition of selected materials in addition to completing a critical text on Roman. My extensive introduction to this edition includes critical analyses of her nonfiction and fiction as well as a section on Roman's biographical background. Roman's editorials evince a deep concern with politics, which stemmed from her having grown up as the daughter of South Carolina senator, Robert Barnwell Rhett. Roman lamented the fact that the Republican politicians of the day were not more like her father and her father-in-law, the former governor of Louisiana, Andre Bienvenu Roman. Many of her editorials address concerns which carry over into her fiction, such as the importance of education and devotion to family. Her stories about the young aristocratic class of New Orleans, of which she was once a member, are often didactic and cautionary. She also employs many elements of local color and popular culture in her fiction. In my scholarly edition of representative samples from Roman's editorials and fiction, I am able to depict her growth as a writer. My introduction establishes the critical connections between her engaging life and her writing. I situate her work and life historically, and examine her writing alongside that of other, better-known writers contemporary to her. Finally, the project includes the first complete bibliography of Roman's works.

Pages

572

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