Cover for Ware: Cajun Women and Mardi Gras: Reading the Rules Backward. Click for larger image

Cajun Women and Mardi Gras

Reading the Rules Backward

How Cajun women have creatively refashioned the tradition of rural Mardi Gras runs

Cajun Women and Mardi Gras is the first book to explore the importance of women’s contributions to the country Cajun Mardi Gras tradition, or Mardi Gras “run.” Most Mardi Gras runs--masked begging processions through the countryside, led by unmasked capitaines--have customarily excluded women. Male organizers explain that this rule protects not only the tradition’s integrity but also women themselves from the event’s rowdy, often drunken, play.

Throughout the past twentieth century, and especially in the past fifty years, women in some prairie communities have insisted on taking more active and public roles in the festivities. Carolyn E. Ware traces the history of women’s participation as it has expanded from supportive roles as cooks and costume makers to increasingly public performances as Mardi Gras clowns and (in at least one community) capitaines. Drawing on more than a decade of fieldwork interviews and observation in Mardi Gras communities, Ware focuses on the festive actions in Tee Mamou and Basile to reveal how women are reshaping the celebration as creative artists and innovative performers.

"Ware presents a fascinating, informative study of a thin slice of Louisiana's Cajun culture. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"Ware's skillful use of oral testimonies and her detailed descriptions of the runs will be useful to those interested in the peculiarities of Cajun culture."--Journal of Southern History

Carolyn E. Ware is an assistant professor of folklore and English at Louisiana State University.

To order online:
http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/73hmr7fe9780252031380.html

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(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
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