"Searching for Belonging and Safety: Pierre Becnel’s Transformation of Evergreen Plantation in the 1830s"
English words with a French accent. American style with a French flair. Greek Revival façade with Creole foundation. Over the course of the antebellum era, many Franco-white Louisianans found themselves modifying their language, fashion, and architecture to better ingratiate themselves with the increasingly powerful Anglo-Americans. But they would not concede their culture easily or totally, rather adapting their beliefs and practices as they attempted to maintain their social and political power. Particularly in New Orleans and its adjacent parishes—including St. John the Baptist Parish west of the city—Creoles walked the line between their French heritage and their new American identity. One thing that both had in common, though, was the institution of slavery. Whether French or American (or something in between), to own enslaved laborers was to have economic and social power in antebellum Louisiana.
About the Speaker:
Whitney Nell Stewart is assistant professor of Historical Studies and affiliate of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her research focuses on the intersection of race and material culture in the nineteenth-century United States. Her current book manuscript, tentatively titled “The Home that Slavery Made: How Plantation Slavery Racialized the American Home,” examines how and why enslavers and enslaved people utilized the plantation’s built environment and domestic material culture to build home within the institution of slavery. This coming year, she will serve as a National Endowment for the Humanities Long-Term Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society. Stewart’s work has also been supported by the Smithsonian, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, the Huntington Library, and the Winterthur Museum, among others. She is the author of the Journal of Social History article “Fashioning Frenchness: Gens de Couleur Libres and the Cultural Struggle for Power in Antebellum New Orleans,” which recently won the Glenn R. Conrad Prize in best published article on Louisiana history from the Louisiana Historical Association. Additionally, she is co-editor of Race and Nation in the Age of Emancipations (University of Georgia Press, 2018). Stewart has served as curatorial fellow at various institutions, including the Bayou Bend Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and The Henry Ford, as well as a field research fellow with the Classical Institute of the South.
Ticket Price: $10 advance; $12 door; $10 Museum members