Franco-America in the Making


Franco-America in the Making

The Creole Nation Within

Jonathan K. Gosnell

France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization Series

366 pages
6 photographs, 5 illustrations, index


July 2018


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

July 2018


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

July 2018


$60.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Every June the city of Lowell, Massachusetts, celebrates Franco-American Day, raising the Franco-American flag and hosting events designed to commemorate French culture in the Americas. Though there are twenty million French speakers and people of French or francophone descent in North America, making them the fifth-largest ethnic group in the United States, their cultural legacy has remained nearly invisible. Events like Franco-American Day, however, attest to French ethnic permanence on the American topography. 

In Franco-America in the Making, Jonathan K. Gosnell examines the manifestation and persistence of hybrid Franco-American literary, musical, culinary, and media cultures in North America, especially New England and southern Louisiana. To shed light on the French cultural legacy in North America long after the formal end of the French empire in the mid-eighteenth century, Gosnell seeks out hidden French or “Franco” identities and sites of memory in the United States and Canada that quietly proclaim an intercontinental French presence, examining institutions of higher learning, literature, folklore, newspapers, women’s organizations, and churches. This study situates Franco-American cultures within the new and evolving field of postcolonial Francophone studies by exploring the story of the peoples and ideas contributing to the evolution and articulation of a Franco-American cultural identity in the New World. Gosnell asks what it means to be French, not simply in America but of America.


Author Bio

Jonathan K. Gosnell is a professor of French studies at Smith College. He is the author of The Politics of Frenchness in Colonial Algeria, 1930–1954.


"In this bold attempt to provide a cultural history of Franco-America while remapping American studies, Gosnell excavates cultural and literary sources that have been hidden from view, and also conveys, even though it is not his personal story, an insider’s awareness of the discursive dilemmas of French North America."—Jay Gitlin, Journal of Modern History

"Gosnell presents a wealth of information and statistics on French institutions, organizations, and clubs, as well as giving the names and titles of a diverse range of North American literature in French, including folktales from the traditions of Ti-Jean, Boudreau, and Br’er Rabbit. His work will be of great interest to teachers of French, and to anyone interested in the French history of North America."—Erika E. Hess, French Review

"This study situates Franco-American cultures within the new and evolving field of postcolonial Francophone studies by exploring the story of the peoples and ideas contributing to the evolution and articulation of a Franco-American cultural identity in the New World. Gosnell asks what it means to be French, not simply in America but of America."—SFHOM

"Gosnell has written an important book that will appeal to scholars interested in ethnicity, race, and (im)migration."—Ryan Andre Brasseaux, Journal of Southern History

"This comprehensive and wellwritten study is an important contribution to several fields, including Francophone studies, postcolonial studies, and American studies, and will appeal to scholars working on ethnic studies, and immigration and border studies. This book will also undoubtedly interest French teachers focusing on the history and experience of Franco-American cultures in the U.S., and anyone interested in the story of French life in America."—Anna V. Keefe, Studies in twentieth & Twenty-First Century Literature

"Franco-America in the Making walks us through some of the key cultural institutions that define French North America."—Susan Pinette, L’Esprit Créateur

“Jonathan Gosnell sets out on no less than an archeological expedition, one that reveals a treasure trove of information on a crucial yet underexplored facet of American identity. At a moment in history when questions of nativism, ethnicity, and identity are increasingly defining debates on both sides of the Atlantic, readers will be stimulated by these intellectual excavations, moved by the often unexpected discoveries, and inspired by the latitude of creolizations that are the logical outcome of the twists and turns this journey has taken through the centuries.”—Dominic Thomas, Letessier Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles and author of Africa and France: Postcolonial Cultures, Migration, and Racism

“By exploring the complexity of the question ‘Is memory of a distant French past enough to sustain a Franco-American present and future?,’ Jonathan Gosnell provides a broad, engaging, and well-documented analysis of the resilience of the French presence in North America.”—Bénédicte Mauguière, professor of French and Francophone studies at Colby College and author of Cultural Identities in Canadian Literature

“While contemporary textbooks of French include references to the U.S. Franco-American and Cajun cultures, there is no single volume that can provide teachers with the background and greater depth they need to teach their students.”—Eloise A. Brière, professor of French studies at the University of Albany and editor of J’aime New York, Second Edition: A Bilingual Guide to the French Heritage of New York State

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. Between Dream and Reality in Franco-America
2. Cultural Institutions and French Renaissance in America
3. Women’s Social Clubs and the Transmission of Culture
4. Franco-American Cultures in a New World Perspective
5. Ethnic Identity and the Franco-American Press
6. Unmasking the Creole Cowboy

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