Accessible Citizenships examines Chicana/o cultural representations that conceptualize political community through images of disability. Working against the assumption that disability is a metaphor for social decay or political crisis, Julie Avril Minich analyzes literature, film, and visual art post-1980 in which representations of non-normative bodies work to expand our understanding of what it means to belong to a political community.
Minich shows how queer writers like Arturo Islas and Cherríe Moraga have reconceptualized Chicano nationalism through disability images. She further addresses how the U.S.-Mexico border and disabled bodies restrict freedom and movement. Finally, she confronts the changing role of the nation-state in the face of neoliberalism as depicted in novels by Ana Castillo and Cecile Pineda.
Accessible Citizenships illustrates how these works gesture towards less exclusionary forms of citizenship and nationalism. Minich boldly argues that the corporeal images used to depict national belonging have important consequences for how the rights and benefits of citizenship are understood and distributed.
Mexico is more than a country; it is a concept that is the product of a complex network of discourses as disparate as the rhetoric of Chicano nationalism, English-language literature about Mexico, and Mexican tourist propaganda. The idea of "Mexicanness," says Daniel Cooper Alarcón, "has arisen through a process of erasure and superimposition as these discourses have produced contentious and sometimes contradictory descriptions of their subject." By considering Mexicanness as a palimpsest of these competing yet interwoven narratives, Cooper offers a paradigm through which the construction and representation of cultural identity can be studied.
He shows how the Chicano myth of Aztlan was constructed upon earlier Mesoamerican myths, discusses representations of Mexico in texts by nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers, and analyzes the content of tourist literature, thereby revealing the economic, social, and political interests that drive the production of Mexicanness today. This original linking of seemingly incongruous discourses corrects the misconception that Mexicanness is produced only by hegemonic groups. Cooper shows how Mexico has been defined and represented, by both Mexicans and non-Mexicans, as more than a political or geographic entity, and he particularly reveals how Mexicanness has been exploited by Mexicans themselves through the promotion of tourism as a form of neocolonialism.
Cooper's work is valuable both for identifying attempts to revise and control Mexican myth, history, and culture and for defining the intricate relationship between history, historiography, and cultural nationalism. The Aztec Palimpsest extends existing analyses of Mexicanness into new theoretical realms and provides a fresh perspective on the relationship between the United States and Mexico at a time when these two nations are becoming more intimately linked.
Writers focusing on the U.S.-Mexico border are keen observers of cultural interaction, and their work offers a key to understanding the region and its most important issues. For more than 150 years, novelists from both the United States and Mexico have spun stories about the borderlands in which characters react to cultural differences in the region, and this has become a dominant theme in border fiction. Authors such as Helen Hunt Jackson, Carlos Fuentes, Cormac McCarthy, and Leslie Marmon Silko have not only created important literature; in so doing, they have also helped define the border. Writers who are drawn to the borderlands owe the narrative power of their work to compelling relationships between literary constructions of space and artistic expressions of cultural encounter. Rosemary King now offers a new way of understanding the conflicts these writers portray by analyzing their representations of geography and genre. Border Confluences examines how the theme of cultural difference influences the ways that writers construct narrative space and the ways their characters negotiate those spaces, from domestic sphere to national territory, public school to utopia. King shows how fictional characters' various responses to cultural encounters—adapting, resisting, challenging, sympathizing—depend on the artistic rendering of spaces and places around them, and she examines the connection between writers' evocation of place and the presence of cultural interaction along the border as expressed in novels written since the mid-nineteenth century. Drawing on historical romances, Hispanic coming-of-age novels, travel narratives, and utopian literature, King offers plot summaries of such key works as Ramona, All the Pretty Horses, and Almanac of the Dead as she analyzes representations of both the spaces in which characters function and the places they inhabit relative to the border. Border Confluences is a provocative study that offers insight into the ways words and space combine and recombine over time to create representations of the borderlands as a site where places and cultures continue to generate powerful narrative. Through it, scholars and students in such disciplines as ethnic studies, sociology, and women's studies will find that novels centered on the border are not merely works of literature but also keys to understanding the region and its most important issues.
Poet, novelist, journalist, and ethnographer, Américo Paredes (1915–1999) was a pioneering figure in Mexican American border studies and a founder of Chicano studies. Paredes taught literature and anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin for decades, and his ethnographic and literary critical work laid the groundwork for subsequent scholarship on the folktales, legends, and riddles of Mexican Americans. In this beautifully written literary history, the distinguished scholar Ramón Saldívar establishes Paredes’s preeminent place in writing the contested cultural history of the south Texas borderlands. At the same time, Saldívar reveals Paredes as a precursor to the “new” American cultural studies by showing how he perceptively negotiated the contradictions between the national and transnational forces at work in the Americas in the nascent era of globalization.
Saldívar demonstrates how Paredes’s poetry, prose, and journalism prefigured his later work as a folklorist and ethnographer. In song, story, and poetry, Paredes first developed the themes and issues that would be central to his celebrated later work on the “border studies” or “anthropology of the borderlands.” Saldívar describes how Paredes’s experiences as an American soldier, journalist, and humanitarian aid worker in Asia shaped his understanding of the relations between Anglos and Mexicans in the borderlands of south Texas and of national and ethnic identities more broadly. Saldívar was a friend of Paredes, and part of TheBorderlands of Culture is told in Paredes’s own words. By explaining how Paredes’s work engaged with issues central to contemporary scholarship, Saldívar extends Paredes’s intellectual project and shows how it contributes to the remapping of the field of American studies from a transnational perspective.
In Borderlands Saints, Desirée A. Martín examines the rise and fall of popular saints and saint-like figures in the borderlands of the United States and Mexico. Focusing specifically on Teresa Urrea (La Santa de Cabora), Pancho Villa, César Chávez, Subcomandante Marcos, and Santa Muerte, she traces the intersections of these figures, their devotees, artistic representations, and dominant institutions with an eye for the ways in which such unofficial saints mirror traditional spiritual practices and serve specific cultural needs.
Popular spirituality of this kind engages the use and exchange of relics, faith healing, pilgrimages, and spirit possession, exemplifying the contradictions between high and popular culture, human and divine, and secular and sacred. Martín focuses upon a wide range of Mexican and Chicano/a cultural works drawn from the nineteenth century to the present, covering such diverse genres as the novel, the communiqué, drama, the essay or crónica, film, and contemporary digital media. She argues that spiritual practice is often represented as narrative, while narrative—whether literary, historical, visual, or oral—may modify or even function as devotional practice.
This volume reassesses the field of Chicana/o literary studies in light of the rise of Latina/o studies, the recovery of a large body of early literature by Mexican Americans, and the “transnational turn” in American studies. The chapters reveal how “Chicano” defines a literary critical sensibility as well as a political one and show how this view can yield new insights about the status of Mexican Americans, the legacies of colonialism, and the ongoing prospects for social justice.
Chicana/o literary representations emerge as significant examples of the local that interrogate globalization’s attempts to erase difference. They also highlight how Chicana/o literary studies’ interests in racial justice and the minority experience have produced important intersections with new disciplines while also retaining a distinctive character. The recalibration of Chicana/o literary studies in light of these shifts raises important methodological and disciplinary questions, which these chapters address as they introduce the new tools required for the study of Chicana/o literature at this critical juncture.
Spirituality has consistently been present in the political and cultural counternarratives of Chicanx literature. Calling the Soul Back focuses on the embodied aspects of a spirituality integrating body, mind, and soul. Centering the relationship between embodiment and literary narrative, Christina Garcia Lopez shows narrative as healing work through which writers and readers ritually call back the soul—one’s unique immaterial essence—into union with the body, counteracting the wounding fragmentation that emerged out of colonization and imperialism. These readings feature both underanalyzed and more popular works by pivotal writers such as Gloria Anzaldúa, Sandra Cisneros, and Rudolfo Anaya, in addition to works by less commonly acknowledged authors.
Calling the Soul Back explores the spiritual and ancestral knowledge offered in narratives of bodies in trauma, bodies engaged in ritual, grieving bodies, bodies immersed in and becoming part of nature, and dreaming bodies. Reading across narrative nonfiction, performative monologue, short fiction, fables, illustrated children’s books, and a novel, Garcia Lopez asks how these narratives draw on the embodied intersections of ways of knowing and being to shift readers’ consciousness regarding relationships to space, time, and natural environments.
Using an interdisciplinary approach, Calling the Soul Back draws on literary and Chicanx studies scholars as well as those in religious studies, feminist studies, sociology, environmental studies, philosophy, and Indigenous studies, to reveal narrative’s healing potential to bring the soul into balance with the body and mind.
Canto hondo / Deep Song
Francisco X. Alarcón University of Arizona Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3551.L22A58 2015 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Canto hondo / Deep Song honors the Andalusian deep lyric, or canto hondo, poetry of famed Spanish writer Federico García Lorca through rich and expressive poems. Francisco X. Alarcón deftly places Spanish and English side-by-side in this bilingual collection that is a modern meditation on love, self, loss, and universal truths.
In this new collection, Alarcón creates poetry with roots in Gypsy songs clapped out in the distinctively short rhythms of flamenco music. Each page lifts the heart and stirs the soul by delving deep into the struggle for self and sexual identity.
Canto hondo / Deep Song includes 106 poems divided into four sections that articulate struggle, otherness, and the meaning of the poetic landscape. Like Lorca, Alarcón seeks out the fault lines where the lyric and the political bleed productively and proactively into one another.
An important voice in Chicano and GLBT poetry, Alarcón writes with a complex, emotionally powerful style that is accessible to students and all lovers of poetry and poetic traditions.
Gay Chicano/Latinx literature often holds an intensely personal meaning for its readers, sometimes being the first artistic expression encountered that affirms their own identity as a double minority in a world that is frequently hostile to both. Nevertheless, much of the academic discourse surrounding this body of literature has overlooked how critical audience reaction can be in this inherently political genre, instead seeing the power of a work as resting within the piece itself.
In Capturing Mariposas: Reading Cultural Schema in Gay Chicano Literature, Doug P. Bush looks at the book as only the beginning, considering how this literature has the power to bring understanding to disparate groups, speak truth about repressed sexuality and repressive communities, and recast traditional spaces as ones of inclusion, all through the idea of the cultural schema. Integrating elements of narratology and cognitive studies of literature, the cultural schema speaks to how these authors challenge, reaffirm, and transform commonly held experiences of gay Chicanos—or potentially any audience who reads their works. Focusing on twenty-first-century writers such as Manuel Muñoz, Rigoberto González, and Alex Espinoza, Bush examines the cultural schema of their works and then moves toward a more holistic discussion of the publishing and political implications of this genre. In addition to Bush’s important scholarship, the book includes extensive interviews with the authors themselves.
Karin Rosa Ikas offers probing and insightful interviews with ten Chicana writers of diverse backgrounds: Denise Chávez, Gloria Anzaldúa, Lucha Corpi, Cherríe Moraga, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Mary Helen Ponce, Jamie Lujan, Demetria Martinez, Estela Portillo-Trambley, and Pat Mora. The interviews address such topics as personal background, education, sense of ethnic and gender identity, the origins and intention of published works, and general views on writing, culture, and art, revealing a rich multiplicity of Chicana voices and views in diverse genres including poetry, drama, and fiction. For each of these women, though, her identity as a Chicana and as a woman is critically important to her evolution and purpose as a writer. Chicana Ways documents the rich diversity and brilliance of contemporary Mexican American writing and is essential reading for anyone interested in multicultural and feminist literature.
Rebelling against bourgeois vacuity and taking their countercultural critique on the road, the Beat writers and artists have long symbolized a spirit of freedom and radical democracy. Manuel Martinez offers an eye-opening challenge to this characterization of the Beats, juxtaposing them against Chicano nationalists like Raul Salinas, Jose Montoya, Luis Valdez, and Oscar Acosta and Mexican migrant writers in the United States, like Tomas Rivera and Ernesto Galarza.
In an innovative rereading of American radical politics and culture of the 1950s and 1960s, Martinez uncovers reactionary, neoromantic, and sometimes racist strains in the Beats’ vision of freedom, and he brings to the fore the complex stances of Latinos on participant democracy and progressive culture. He analyzes the ways that Beats, Chicanos, and migrant writers conceived of and articulated social and political perspectives. He contends that both the Beats’ extreme individualism and the Chicano nationalists’ narrow vision of citizenship are betrayals of the democratic ideal, but that the migrant writers presented a distinctly radical and inclusive vision of democracy that was truly countercultural.
This pathbreaking anthology of Chicano literary criticism, with essays on a remarkable range of texts—both old and new—draws on diverse perspectives in contemporary literary and cultural studies: from ethnographic to postmodernist, from Marxist to feminist, from cultural materialist to new historicist. The editors have organized essays around four board themes: the situation of Chicano literary studies within American literary history and debates about the “canon”; representations of the Chicana/o subject; genre, ideology, and history; and the aesthetics of Chicano literature. The volume as a whole aims at generating new ways of understanding what counts as culture and “theory” and who counts as a theorist. A selected and annotated bibliography of contemporary Chicano literary criticism is also included. By recovering neglected authors and texts and introducing readers to an emergent Chicano canon, by introducing new perspectives on American literary history, ethnicity, gender, culture, and the literary process itself, Criticism in the Borderlands is an agenda-setting collection that moves beyond previous scholarship to open up the field of Chicano literary studies and to define anew what is American literature.
Contributors. Norma Alarcón, Héctor Calderón, Angie Chabram, Barbara Harlow, Rolando Hinojosa, Luis Leal, José E. Limón, Terese McKenna, Elizabeth J. Ordóñez, Genero Padilla, Alvina E. Quintana, Renato Rosaldo, José David Saldívar, Sonia Saldívar-Hull, Rosaura Sánchez, Roberto Trujillo
This interdisciplinary study explores how US Mexicana and Chicana authors and artists across different historical periods and regions use domestic space to actively claim their own histories. Through “negotiation”—a concept that accounts for artistic practices outside the duality of resistance/accommodation—and “self-fashioning,” Marci R. McMahon demonstrates how the very sites of domesticity are used to engage the many political and recurring debates about race, gender, and immigration affecting Mexicanas and Chicanas from the early twentieth century to today.
Domestic Negotiations covers a range of archival sources and cultural productions, including the self-fashioning of the “chili queens” of San Antonio, Texas, Jovita González’s romance novel Caballero, the home economics career and cookbooks of Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Sandra Cisneros’s “purple house controversy” and her acclaimed text The House on Mango Street, Patssi Valdez’s self-fashioning and performance of domestic space in Asco and as a solo artist, Diane Rodríguez’s performance of domesticity in Hollywood television and direction of domestic roles in theater, and Alma López’s digital prints of domestic labor in Los Angeles. With intimate close readings, McMahon shows how Mexicanas and Chicanas shape domestic space to construct identities outside of gendered, racialized, and xenophobic rhetoric.
A train station becomes a police station; lands held sacred by Apaches and Mexicanos are turned into commercial and residential zones; freeway construction hollows out a community; a rancho becomes a retirement community—these are the kinds of spatial transformations that concern Mary Pat Brady in Extinct Lands, Temporal Geographies, a book bringing together Chicana feminism, cultural geography, and literary theory to analyze an unusual mix of Chicana texts through the concept of space. Beginning with nineteenth-century short stories and essays and concluding with contemporary fiction, this book reveals how Chicana literature offers a valuable theoretics of space.
The history of the American Southwest in large part entails the transformation of lived, embodied space into zones of police surveillance, warehouse districts, highway interchanges, and shopping malls—a movement that Chicana writers have contested from its inception. Brady examines this long-standing engagement with space, first in the work of early newspaper essayists and fiction writers who opposed Anglo characterizations of Northern Sonora that were highly detrimental to Mexican Americans, and then in the work of authors who explore border crossing. Through the writing of Sandra Cisneros, Cherríe Moraga, Terri de la Peña, Norma Cantú, Monserrat Fontes, Gloria Anzaldúa, and others, Brady shows how categories such as race, gender, and sexuality are spatially enacted and created—and made to appear natural and unyielding. In a spatial critique of the war on drugs, she reveals how scale—the process by which space is divided, organized, and categorized—has become a crucial tool in the management and policing of the narcotics economy.
Forgotten Futures, Colonized Pasts traces the existence of a now largely forgotten history of inter-American alliance-making, transnational community formation, and intercultural collaboration between Mexican and Anglo American elites. This communion between elites was often based upon Mexican elites’ own acceptance and reestablishment of problematic socioeconomic, cultural, and ethno-racial hierarchies that placed them above other groups—the poor, working class, indigenous, or Afro-Mexicans, for example—within their own larger community of Greater Mexico. Using close readings of literary texts, such as novels, diaries, letters, newspapers, political essays, and travel narratives produced by nineteenth-century writers from Greater Mexico, Forgotten Futures, Colonized Pasts brings to light the forgotten imaginings of how elite Mexicans and Mexican Americans defined themselves and their relationship with Spain, Mexico, the United States, and Anglo America in the nineteenth century. These “lost” discourses—long ago written out of official national narratives and discarded as unrealized or impossible avenues for identity and nation formation—reveal the rifts, fractures, violence, and internal colonizations that are a foundational, but little recognized, part of the history and culture of Greater Mexico.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
Chicana/o literature frequently depicts characters who exist in a vulnerable liminal space, living on the border between Mexican and American identities, and sometimes pushed to the edge by authorities who seek to restrict their freedom. As this groundbreaking new study reveals, the books themselves have occupied similarly precarious positions, as Chicana/o literature has struggled for economic viability and visibility on the margins of the American publishing industry, while Chicana/o writers have grappled with editorial practices that compromise their creative autonomy.
From the Edge reveals the tangled textual histories behind some of the most cherished works in the Chicana/o literary canon, tracing the negotiations between authors, editors, and publishers that determined how these books appeared in print. Allison Fagan demonstrates how the texts surrounding the authors’ words—from editorial prefaces to Spanish-language glossaries, from cover illustrations to reviewers’ blurbs—have crucially shaped the reception of Chicana/o literature. To gain an even richer perspective on the politics of print, she ultimately explores one more border space, studying the marks and remarks that readers have left in the margins of these books.
From the Edge vividly demonstrates that to comprehend fully the roles that ethnicity, language, class, and gender play within Chicana/o literature, we must understand the material conditions that governed the production, publication, and reception of these works. By teaching us how to read the borders of the text, it demonstrates how we might perceive and preserve the faint traces of those on the margins.
This study offers a critical examination of the work of Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Mexican-American brothers whose graphic novels are highly influential. The Hernandez brothers started in the alt-comics scene, where their ‘Love and Rockets’ series quickly gained prominence. They have since published in more mainstream venues but have maintained an outsider status based on their own background and the content of their work. Enrique García argues that the Hernandez brothers have worked to create a new American graphic storytelling that, while still in touch with mainstream genres, provides a transgressive alternative from an aesthetic, gender, and ethnic perspective. The brothers were able to experiment with and modify these genres by taking advantage of the editorial freedom of independent publishing. This freedom also allowed them to explore issues of ethnic and gender identity in transgressive ways. Their depictions of latinidad and sexuality push against the edicts of mainstream Anglophone culture, but they also defy many Latino perceptions of life, politics, and self-representation. The book concludes with an in-depth interview with Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez that touches on and goes beyond the themes explored in the book.
"Home Girls makes an original, bold, and significant contribution to feminist studies, Chicana/o studies, and literature. Quintana accomplishes what few critics in Chicana/o studies have done: she applies different interpretive paradigms to her reading of Chicana texts, blending ethnography with literary criticism, ideological analysis with semiotics. Her reading of literary texts is rich in texture and detail."
--Rosa Linda Fregoso, author of Bronze Screen: Chicana and Chicano Film Culture
Chicana writers in the United States write to inspire social change, to challenge a patriarchal and homophobic culture, to redefine traditional gender roles, to influence the future. Alvina E. Quintana examines how Chicana writers engage literary convention through fiction, poetry, drama, and autobiography as a means of addressing these motives.
Her analysis of the writings of Gloria Anzaldua, Ana Castillo, Denise Chavez, Sandra Cisneros, and Cherrie Moraga addresses a multitude of issues: the social and political forces that influenced the Chicana aesthetic; Chicana efforts to open a dialogue about the limitation of both Anglo-American feminism and Chicano nationalism; experimentations with content and form; the relationship between imaginative writing and self-reflexive ethnography; and performance, domesticity, and sexuality.
Employing anthropological, feminist, historical, and literary sources, Quintana explores the continuity found among Chicanas writing across varied genres--a drive to write themselves into being.
Given the explosive creativity shown by Chicana writers over the past two decades, this first major anthology devoted to their work is a major contribution to American letters. It highlights the key issues, motifs, and concerns of Mexican American women from 1848 to the present, and particularly reflects the modern Chicana's struggle for identity. Among the recurring themes in the collection is a re-visioning of foremothers such as the historical Malinche, the mythical Llorona, and pioneering women who settled the American Southwest from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries. Also included are historical documents on the lives, culture, and writings of Mexican American women in the nineteenth century, as well as oral histories recorded by the Federal Writers Project in the 1930s.
Through poetry, fiction, drama, essay, and other forms, this landmark volume showcases the talents of more than fifty authors, including Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Ana Castillo, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Denise Chávez, Sandra Cisneros, Pat Mora, Cherríe Moraga, and María Helena Viramontes.
Los Angeles has long been a place where cultures clash and reshape. The city has a growing number of Latina/o authors and filmmakers who are remapping and reclaiming it through ongoing symbolic appropriation. In this illuminating book, Ignacio López-Calvo foregrounds the emotional experiences of authors, implicit authors, narrators, characters, and readers in order to demonstrate that the evolution of the imaging of Los Angeles in Latino cultural production is closely related to the politics of spatial location. This spatial-temporal approach, he writes, reveals significant social anxieties, repressed rage, and deep racial guilt.
Latino Los Angeles in Film and Fiction sets out to reconfigure the scope of Latino literary and cultural studies. Integrating histories of different regions and nations, the book sets the interplay of unresolved contradictions in this particular metropolitan area. The novelists studied here stem from multiple areas, including the U.S. Southwest, Guatemala, and Chile. The study also incorporates non-Latino writers who have contributed to the Latino culture of the city.
The first chapter examines Latino cultural production from an ecocritical perspective on urban interethnic relations. Chapter 2 concentrates on the representation of daily life in the barrio and the marginalization of Latino urban youth. The third chapter explores the space of women and how female characters expand their area of operations from the domestic space to the public space of both the barrio and the city.
A much-needed contribution to the fields of urban theory, race critical theory, Chicana/o–Latina/o studies, and Los Angeles writing and film, López-Calvo offers multiple theoretical perspectives—including urban theory, ecocriticism, ethnic studies, gender studies, and cultural studies—contextualized with notions of transnationalism and post-nationalism.
A Luis Leal Reader
Luis Leal Northwestern University Press, 2007 Library of Congress PQ7114.L43 2007 | Dewey Decimal 810.986872
Since his first publication in 1942, Luis Leal has likely done more than any other writer or scholar to foster a critical appreciation of Mexican, Chicano, and Latin American literature and culture. This volume, bringing together a representative selection of Leal’s writings from the past sixty years, is at once a wide-ranging introduction to the most influential scholar of Latino literature and a critical history of the field as it emerged and developed through the twentieth century.
Instrumental in establishing Mexican literary studies in the United States, Leal’s writings on the topic are especially instructive, ranging from essays on the significance of symbolism, culture, and history in early Chicano literature to studies of the more recent use of magical realism and of individual New Mexican, Tejano, and Mexican authors such as Juan Rulfo, Carlos Fuentes, José Montoya, and Mariano Azuela. Clearly and cogently written, these writings bring to bear an encyclopedic knowledge, a deep understanding of history and politics, and an unparalleled command of the aesthetics of storytelling, from folklore to theory. This collection affords readers the opportunity to consider—or reconsider—Latino literature under the deft guidance of its greatest reader.
Ray Gonzalez University of Arizona Press, 1999 Library of Congress PS3557.O476Z472 1999 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
For poet Ray Gonzalez, growing up in El Paso during the 1960s was a time of loneliness and vulnerability. He encountered discrimination in high school not only for being Latino but also for being a non-athlete in a school where sports were important. Like many young people, he found diversion in music; unlike most, he found solace in the desert. In these vignettes, Gonzalez shares memories of boyhood that tell how he discovered the natural world and his creative spirit.
Through 29 storylike essays, Gonzalez takes readers into the heart of the desert and the soul of a developing poet. He introduces us to the people who shaped his life. We learn of his father's difficulties with running a pool hall and of his grandmother's steadfast religious faith. We meet sinister Texas Rangers, hallucinatory poets, illegal aliens, and racist high school jocks. His vivid recollections embrace lizard hunts and rattlesnake dreams, rock music and menudo making—all in stories that convey the pains and joys of growing up on the border. As Gonzalez leads us through his desert of hope and vision, we come to recognize the humor and sadness that permeate this special place.
Mirrors Beneath the Earth is an historic and unique collection of contemporary Chicano fiction: 31 stories depicting the richly varied experiences of Mexican-Americans in the U.S. Some, like Sandra Cisneros, Rudolfo Anaya, Ana Castillo, are already celebrated writers. The special strength of this anthology is that it introduces others who have never before been published in book form, like Ana Baca, Patricia Blanca, Rafael Jesus Gonzalez, and Natalia Trevino. These writers open our eyes and enrich our understanding.
"These thirteen essays comprise a richly patterned 'quilt,' expertly addressing the influence of Mexico and Latin and South America upon the North American imagination. . . . Cecil Robinson's impressive breadth of expertise, his fascinating interpretations, make this collection of essays invaluable regional reading. The bibliography alone is a treasure—a gift from a man whose life's work was to form a bridge of humanistic understanding between the two primary cultures of the New World."—El Palacio
"In graceful prose, the longtime English professor leads readers on a leisurely stroll through the literary landscape of the Southwest."—Journal of Arizona History
"Does more for reconstructing American literature than any of the contemporary American literature anthologies that are on the market today. . . . Strongly recommended."—Choice
Here's a story about a familythat comes from Tijuana and settles into the 'hood, hoping for the American Dream.
. . . I'm not saying it's our story. I'm not saying it isn't. It might be yours. "How do you tell a story that cannot be told?" writes Luis Alberto Urrea in this potent memoir of a childhood divided. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and an Anglo mother from Staten Island, Urrea moved to San Diego when he was three. His childhood was a mix of opposites, a clash of cultures and languages. In prose that seethes with energy and crackles with dark humor, Urrea tells a story that is both troubling and wildly entertaining. Urrea endured violence and fear in the black and Mexican barrio of his youth. But the true battlefield was inside his home, where his parents waged daily war over their son's ethnicity. "You are not a Mexican!" his mother once screamed at him. "Why can't you be called Louis instead of Luis?" He suffers disease and abuse and he learns brutal lessons about machismo. But there are gentler moments as well: a simple interlude with his father, sitting on the back of a bakery truck; witnessing the ultimate gesture of tenderness between the godparents who taught him the magical power of love. "I am nobody's son. I am everybody's brother," writes Urrea. His story is unique, but it is not unlike thousands of other stories being played out across the United States, stories of other Americans who have waged war—both in the political arena and in their own homes—to claim their own personal and cultural identity. It is a story of what it means to belong to a nation that is sometimes painfully multicultural, where even the language both separates and unites us. Brutally honest and deeply moving, Nobody's Son is a testament to the borders that divide us all.
In his groundbreaking new study, Permissible Narratives: The Promise of Latino/a Literature, Christopher González examines the difficulties Latina/o writers face in writing beyond the narrow expectations of U.S. readership in the stories they tell. González argues that a constrained conception of the possibilities of storytelling by and about Latinos diminishes the development and progression of narrative form. Through an examination of Latina/o writers against the a priori mode of engaging with nonethnic literature in the United States, González explores the limitations and challenges Latina/o authors have confronted via the shaping power of their narratives to reach a sustainable audience.
Bringing together cultural critique, memory, narratology, cognition, and comprehension, González examines Latina/o authors—such as Oscar “Zeta” Acosta, Gloria Anzaldúa, Piri Thomas, Giannina Braschi, Gilbert Hernandez, Sandra Cisneros, and Junot Díaz—investigating how they successfully, and sometimes unsuccessfully, use the expansive canvas of narrative form to capture the imaginations of an open-minded readership. Permissible Narratives highlights both the inequitable accessibility of narrative devices and, crucially, the daring of Latina/o authors to nurture a readership to afford the same literary deference to them that is so often afforded to white, male, straight authors.
Bringing Chicana/o studies into conversation with queer theory and transgender studies, Post-Borderlandia examines why gender variance is such a core theme in contemporary Chicana and Chicanx narratives. It considers how Chicana butch lesbians and Chicanx trans people are not only challenging heteropatriarchal norms, but also departing from mainstream conceptions of queerness and gender identification.
Expanding on Gloria Anzaldúa’s classic formulation of the Chicana as transformer of the “borderlands,” Jackie Cuevas explores how a new generation of Chicanx writers, performers, and filmmakers are imagining a “post-borderlands” subjectivity, where shifting national, racial, class, sexual, and gender identifications produce complex power dynamics. In addition, Cuevas offers fresh archival analysis of the Chicana feminist canon to reveal how queer gender variance has always been crucial to this literary tradition.
This is the first book-length study of one of the most prominent and prolific Latino academics, Ilan Stavans. He has written extensively on Latino culture, Jewish culture, dictionaries, immigration, language, Spanglish, soccer, translation, travel, selfies, and God. The Restless Ilan Stavans surveys his interests, achievements, and flaws while he is still in the midst of an extraordinarily productive career. A native of Mexico who became a U.S. citizen, he is an outsider to both the Chicano community that often resents him as an interloper and the American Jewish community that he, who grew up speaking Yiddish in Mexico City, often chides. The book examines his unlikely rise to prominence within the context of the spread of multiculturalism as a seminal principle within American culture. A self-proclaimed cosmopolitan who rejects borders, Stavans is both insider and outsider to the myriad of subjects he approaches.
Chicana/o literature is justly acclaimed for the ways it voices opposition to the dominant Anglo culture, speaking for communities ignored by mainstream American media. Yet the world depicted in these texts is not solely inhabited by Anglos and Chicanos; as this groundbreaking new book shows, Asian characters are cast in peripheral but nonetheless pivotal roles.
Southwest Asia investigates why key Chicana/o writers, including Américo Paredes, Rolando Hinojosa, Oscar Acosta, Miguel Méndez, and Virginia Grise, from the 1950s to the present day, have persistently referenced Asian people and places in the course of articulating their political ideas. Jayson Gonzales Sae-Saue takes our conception of Chicana/o literature as a transnational movement in a new direction, showing that it is not only interested in North-South migrations within the Americas, but is also deeply engaged with East-West interactions across the Pacific. He also raises serious concerns about how these texts invariably marginalize their Asian characters, suggesting that darker legacies of imperialism and exclusion might lurk beneath their utopian visions of a Chicana/o nation.
Southwest Asia provides a fresh take on the Chicana/o literary canon, analyzing how these writers have depicted everything from interracial romances to the wars Americans fought in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. As it examines novels, plays, poems, and short stories, the book makes a compelling case that Chicana/o writers have long been at the forefront of theorizing U.S.–Asian relations.
In their comprehensive study Spanish Perspectives on Chicano Literature: Literary and Cultural Essays, editors Jesús Rosales and Vanessa Fonseca provide a fresh set of perspectives on the field of Chicano literary and cultural studies. Composed of essays by scholars who live and work in the United States in addition to those who work primarily in Spain, the book examines how Spanish literary critics view and study Chicano literature. In general, these critics demonstrate a deep interest in Chicano culture in relation to its American, Mexican, and Spanish identities, or multiple cultural mestizajes.
For Chicanos this interest is intriguing, for they see Spain’s vision of the Chicano both with inviting enthusiasm and justifiable reservation—enthusiasm because this interest shows a humanistic concern in understanding their social issues (national identity, bilingualism, immigration, feminism, and so on) in relation to Spain’s own, and reservation because there still prevails an “open wound” from their historical connection with that country. In other words, a lingering Spanish colonial presence still exists in the Chicano psyche. These Spanish perspectives are important to consider as Chicano literature reflects on its place in twenty-first-century America and its transnational and global aspirations.
Gloria Anzaldúa’s narrative and theoretical innovations, particularly her concept of mestiza consciousness, have influenced critical thinking about colonialism, gender, history, language, religion, sexuality, spirituality, and subjectivity. Yet Anzaldúa’s theory of spiritual mestizaje has not been extensively studied until now. Taking up that task, Theresa Delgadillo reveals spiritual mestizaje as central to the queer feminist Chicana theorist’s life and thought, and as a critical framework for interpreting contemporary Chicana literary and visual narratives. First mentioned by Anzaldúa in her pioneering book Borderlands/La Frontera, spiritual mestizaje is a transformative process of excavating bodily memory to develop a radical, sustained critique of oppression and renew one’s relation to the sacred. Delgadillo analyzes the role of spiritual mestizaje in Anzaldúa’s work and in relation to other forms of spirituality and theories of oppression. Illuminating the ways that contemporary Chicana narratives visualize, imagine, and enact Anzaldúa’s theory and method of spiritual mestizaje, Delgadillo interprets novels, memoir, and documentaries. Her critical reading of literary and visual technologies demonstrates how Chicanas challenge normative categories of gender, sexuality, nation, and race by depicting alternative visions of spirituality.
Thinking en español captures conversations with leading Chicana and Chicano literary critics. This unique book consists of interviews with founding members of Chicano criticism conducted by the author, Jesús Rosales, who, through his conversations with leaders such as Luis Leal, María Herrera-Sobek, Tey Diana Rebolledo, and Juan Rodríguez, shows the path of criticism from 1848 to the present.
The twelve critics interviewed for this project share certain characteristics. For each one, Mexico plays an essential role in his or her personal and academic background, and each is bilingual and bicultural, having received formal literary education in Spanish graduate programs. As products of the working class, each scholar here shares a sense of social consciousness and commitment that lends an urgency to their desire to promote Chicano literature and culture at the local, regional, national, and international levels. They serve as a source of inspiration and commitment for future generations of scholars of Chicano literature and leave a lasting legacy of their own.
Thinking en español legitimizes Chicana/o criticism as an established discipline, and documents the works of some of the most important critics of Chicano literature at the turn of the twentieth and into the twenty-first century. This timely book immortalizes literary historical figures and documents the trajectory of Chicano criticism.
Examining autobiographical texts by Malcolm X (The Autobiography of Malcolm X), Oscar Zeta Acosta (The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo and Revolt of the Cockroach People), Amiri Baraka (The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones), and Richard Rodriguez (Hunger of Memory, Days of Obligation, and Brown), Walker questions the often rosy views and simplistic binary conceptions of religious conversion. Her reading of these texts takes into account the conflict and serial changes the authors experience in a society that marginalizes them, the manner in which religious conversion offers ethnic Americans “salvation” through cultural assimilation or cultural nationalism, and what conversion, anticonversion, and deconversion narratives tell us about the problematic effects of religion that often go unremarked because of a code of “special respect” and political correctness.
Walker asserts that critics have been too willing to praise religion in America as salutary or beyond the ken of criticism because religious belief is seen as belonging to an untouchable arena of cultural identity. The Trouble with Sauling Around goes beyond traditional literary criticism to pay close attention to the social phenomena that underlie religious conversion narratives and considers the potentially negative effects of religious conversion, something that has been likewise neglected by scholars.
Returning home after a long absence is not always easy. For Ray Gonzalez, it is more than a visit; it is a journey to the underground heart. He has lived in other parts of the country for more than twenty years, but this award-winning poet now returns to the desert Southwest—a native son playing tourist—in order to unearth the hidden landscapes of family and race.
As Gonzalez drives the highways of New Mexico and west Texas, he shows us a border culture rejuvenated by tourist and trade dollars, one that will surprise readers for whom the border means only illegal immigration, NAFTA, and the drug trade. Played out against a soundtrack of the Allman Brothers and The Doors, The Underground Heart takes readers on a trip through a seemingly barren landscape that teems with life and stories. Gonzalez witnesses Minnesotans experiencing culture shock while attending a college football game in El Paso; he finds a proliferation of Pancho Villa death masks housed at different museums; he revisits Carlsbad Caverns, discovering unsuspected beauty beneath the desert's desolation; and he takes us shopping at El Mercado—where tourists can buy everything from black velvet paintings of Elvis (or Jesus, or JFK) to Mexican flag underwear.
From "nuclear tourism" in New Mexico to "heritage tourism" in the restored missions of San Antonio, Gonzalez goes behind the slogans of The Land of Enchantment and The Lone Star State to uncover a totally different Southwest. Here are tourist centers that give a distorted view of southwestern life to outsiders, who leave their dollars in museum gift shops and go home weighed down with pounds of Indian jewelry around their necks. Here border history is the story of one culture overlaid on another, re-forming itself into a whole new civilization on the banks of the Rio Grande.
The Underground Heart is a book brimming with subtle ironies and insights both quiet and complex—one which recognizes that sometimes one must go away and grow older to finally recognize home as a life-giving, spiritually sustaining place. As Gonzalez rediscovers the land of his past, he comes to understand the hyper, bilingual atmosphere of its future. And in the Southwest he describes, readers may catch a glimpse of their own hidden landscapes of home.
Winner of the Western Literature Association’s 2017 Thomas J. Lyon Book Award in Western American Literary and Cultural Studies
Mexican American literature brings a much-needed approach to the increasingly urgent challenges of climate change and environmental injustice. Although current environmental studies work to develop new concepts, Writing the Goodlife looks to long-established traditions of thought that have existed in Mexican American literary history for the past century and a half. During that time period, Mexican American writing consistently shifts the focus from the environmentally destructive settler values of individualism, domination, and excess toward the more beneficial refrains of community, non-possessiveness, and humility. The decolonial approaches found in these writings provide rich examples of mutually respectful relations between humans and nature, an approach that Priscilla Solis Ybarra calls “goodlife” writing.
Goodlife writing has existed for at least the past century, Ybarra contends, but Chicana/o literary history’s emphasis on justice and civil rights eclipsed this tradition and hidden it from the general public’s view. Likewise, in ecocriticism, the voices of people of color most often appear in deliberations about environmental justice. The quiet power of goodlife writing certainly challenges injustice, to be sure, but it also brings to light the decolonial environmentalism heretofore obscured in both Chicana/o literary history and environmental literary studies.
Ybarra’s book takes on two of today’s most discussed topics—the worsening environmental crisis and the rising Latino population in the United States—and puts them in literary-historical context from the U.S.-Mexico War up to today’s controversial policies regarding climate change, immigration, and ethnic studies. This book uncovers 150 years’ worth of Mexican American and Chicana/o knowledge and practices that inspire hope in the face of some of today’s biggest challenges.
A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness features essays and poems by Cherríe L. Moraga, one of the most influential figures in Chicana/o, feminist, queer, and indigenous activism and scholarship. Combining moving personal stories with trenchant political and cultural critique, the writer, activist, teacher, dramatist, mother, daughter, comadre, and lesbian lover looks back on the first ten years of the twenty-first century. She considers decade-defining public events such as 9/11 and the campaign and election of Barack Obama, and she explores socioeconomic, cultural, and political phenomena closer to home, sharing her fears about raising her son amid increasing urban violence and the many forms of dehumanization faced by young men of color. Moraga describes her deepening grief as she loses her mother to Alzheimer’s; pays poignant tribute to friends who passed away, including the sculptor Marsha Gómez and the poets Alfred Arteaga, Pat Parker, and Audre Lorde; and offers a heartfelt essay about her personal and political relationship with Gloria Anzaldúa.
Thirty years after the publication of Anzaldúa and Moraga’s collection This Bridge Called My Back, a landmark of women-of-color feminism, Moraga’s literary and political praxis remains motivated by and intertwined with indigenous spirituality and her identity as Chicana lesbian. Yet aspects of her thinking have changed over time. A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness reveals key transformations in Moraga’s thought; the breadth, rigor, and philosophical depth of her work; her views on contemporary debates about citizenship, immigration, and gay marriage; and her deepening involvement in transnational feminist and indigenous activism. It is a major statement from one of our most important public intellectuals.