Body and Soul, Geography and Ethics, Trauma and Transcendence

A number of the canonical literary classics of New Orleans as well as the newer works that are held in highest esteem share a preoccupation with the general landscape of the city, and, in turn, with questions about the precise dynamics between sexuality and spirituality. As such, they provide endless opportunities to reflect on what an ethics of body and soul might mean in this highly eroticized landscape, where the potential, moreover, for both traumatic and transcendental experience would seem to wait around each corner. We'll consider, moreover, the tensions between the human and the monstrous as we trace the dynamics of gender and sexuality, and race and class, through the different parts of the city, from the Garden District to Gentilly to the French Quarter to Treme to the Ninth Ward, and, of course, through Storyville. In particular, we'll test the thesis that Storyville was a sort of unwitting memorial to the slave-markets of the preceding century, and that jazz, in turn, was – with voodoo and Mardi Gras Indian masking – a primary strategy of recovering from the agonizing divisions of the chattel principle.