Publication Date

2019-05-08

Degree Type

Creative Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts

Department

English

Date of Closing Conversation

2018-04-13

First Committee Member

Maria E. Galang

Second Committee Member

Chantel M. Acevedo

Third Committee Member

Patricia A. Engel

Abstract

Souls to Keep is a short story collection grappling with themes of family, aging, relocation, and cultural identity throughout varying time periods, age groups, genders, and locations. The majority of the stories link through the LeDay family beginning with the matriarch, Cleophine LeDay, and her married son, Alfonse, during the Great Depression in South Louisiana. These stories follow her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren as the Second Great Migration and a rapidly modernizing world threaten their traditional family structure and cultural identity. Modelling the migration patterns of many Louisiana Creoles, the linked stories in the collection travel back and forth between Southern California and Southern Louisiana, mapping out the repercussions of those who moved for opportunity and those who stayed for familiarity. The new generations of California Creoles face exclusion and isolation while the progeny of those who remained suffocate under outdated sociocultural expectations. An additional short story included in the collection exists outside of this family tree, yet still addresses similar issues of carving out a space for oneself while combatting invisibility.

Keywords

African American; Louisiana Creole; Louisiana; Los Angeles; Catholicism; Fiction

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