Date of Award

Fall 12-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Rioux, Anne Boyd

Second Advisor

Steeby, Elizabeth

Third Advisor

Hazlett, John


Throughout the nineteenth century, New Orleans was repeatedly plagued by yellow fever epidemics. In this paper, cultural representations of yellow fever are considered in three novels: Baron Ludwig Von Reizenstein’s The Mysteries of New Orleans (1854-1855), George Washington Cable’s The Grandissimes (1880), and Mollie Evelyn Moore Davis’ The Queen’s Garden (1900). Because the etiology was unknown during the nineteenth century, yellow fever becomes a floating signifier on which to project the ills they observed in New Orleans society. Yellow fever thus becomes a representation of loose sexual mores, as well as a divinely retributive punishment for slavery, or a sign of adherence to an unequal, antiquated, aristocratic and un-American social system. Yellow fever, in these texts, exposes the struggles with race and racial superiority and illuminates tensions between groups of whites as New Orleans became an American city.


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