by Alice Ilgenfritz Jones
introduction by Thomas H. Fick and Eva Gold
University of Wisconsin Press, 2001
Paper: 978-0-87972-832-8
Library of Congress Classification PS2150.J2B43 2001
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.4


Beatrice of Bayou Têche is a work of great historical and artistic interest: a late-nineteenth-century novel by a white woman about a black woman artist-protagonist. As the introduction for this reprint edition shows, Alice Ilgenfritz Jones was the first white woman to take an extended interest in the intersection of creativity, race, and gender. In Beatrice, Jones seeks to unveil the relationships between white and African Americans during the twenty years before the Civil War by following her mixed-race protagonist from her childhood as a slave in New Orleans through her career as a free woman and inspired painter and opera singer. Beatrice renders the white author’s effort to find a place for the mixed-race woman in relation to paradigms of creativity that are not only gendered but racialized. In the process, it exposes the fault lines of ideology and literary convention that underlie attempts to negotiate issues of race, gender, and creativity in late nineteenth-century America.