"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Recent Chicano(a) Literary Criticism Books

Recent Publications in Chicana(a) Literary Criticism

Note: These book are not published very often, so we go back three years.


Border Crossings and Beyond: The Life and Works of Sandra Cisneros
(Women Writers of Color Series) Hardcover
Praeger 2009 ISBN-10: 031334518X
Carmen Haydée Rivera

Author of The House on Mango Street, which has sold more than two million copies in English alone, activist, MacArthur grant genius, figure of inspiration and controversy, Sandra Cisneros is unequivocally one of America's most important and much discussed contemporary literary figures. In a writing career that has spanned more than three decades, Cisneros has written acclaimed poetry and prose, including, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Loose Woman, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, and Caramelo, or, Puro Cuenta.

Border Crossings and Beyond: The Life and Works of Sandra Cisneros traces the ways in which Cisneros's personal history, art, and influence are intertwined. The result is a revealing and multi-faceted portrait of the artist as writer, woman, and Mexican American. 

From a childhood defined by repeated migrations between Texas and Mexico, to the Chicano and women's movements, and the impact of her father's death, author Carmen Haydée Rivera offers a comprehensive and thoughtful engagement of Cisneros's writings, as well as her tremendous personal struggles and significant gifts. It will become mandatory reading for those who wish to understand the significance and power of Cisneros's contribution to Latina/o literature and American letters.

Conversations with Mexican American Writers: Languages and Literatures in the Borderlands 
Hardcover University Press of Mississippi
Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak 

Through a series of interviews with nine acclaimed authors, Conversations with Mexican American Writers explores the languages and literature of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands as a confluence of social, cultural, historical, and political forces. In their conversations, these authors discuss their linguistic choices within the context of language policies and language attitudes in the United States, as well as the East Coast publishing industry's mandates.

The interviews reveal the cultural and geographical marginalization endured by Mexican American writers, whose voices are muted because they produce literature from the remotest parts of the country and about people on the social fringes. Out of these interviews emerges a portrait of the borderlands as a dynamic space of international exchange, one that is situated and can only be understood fully within a global context.

Included are Diana Montejano, Pat Mora, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Sandra Cisneros, Helen Maria Viramontes, Dagoberto Gilb, Norma Elia Cantu, and Denise Chavez.

Encarnación: Illness and Body Politics in Chicana Feminist Literature 
[Hardcover](Fordham Univ Press)
Suzanne Bost 

This book takes a new look at identity. Following the contemporary movement away from the fixed categories of identity politics toward a more fluid conception of the intersections between identities and communities, this book analyzes the ways in which literature and philosophy draw boundaries around identity.The works of Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga, and Ana Castillo, in particular, enable us to examine how identities shift and intersect with others through processes of "incarnation." 

Since the 1980s, critics have come to equate these writers with Chicana feminist identity politics. This critical trend, however, has been unable to account for these writers' increasing emphasis on bodies that are sick, disabled, permeable, and, oftentimes, mystical. 

Encarnacionn thus turns our attention to aspects of these writers' work that are usually ignored -- Anzaldua's autobiographical writings about diabetes, Moraga's narrative about her premature baby's medical treatments, and Castillo's figure of a polio-afflicted flamenco dancer -- to explore the political and cultural dimensions of illness.

Concerned equally with the medical-surgical interventions available in our postmodern age and with the ways of understanding bodies in the Native American and Catholic traditions these writers invoke, Encarnacion develops a model for identity that expands beyond the boundaries of individual bodies. 

The book argues that this model has greater utility for feminism than identity politics because it values human variability, sensation, and openness to others. The methodology of the study is as permeable as the bodies and identities it analyzes. The book brings together discourses as disparate as Mesoamerican anthropology, art history, feminist spirituality, feminist biology, phenomenology, postmodern theory, disability studies, and autobiographical narrative in order to expand our thinking beyond what disciplinary boundaries allow.

The Gloria Anzaldúa Reader 
(Latin America Otherwise) Paperback
Duke University Press Books 2009 
ISBN-10: 0822345641
Gloria Anzaldua , AnaLouise Keating (Editor) 

Born in the Río Grande Valley of south Texas, independent scholar and creative writer Gloria Anzaldúa was an internationally acclaimed cultural theorist. 

As the author of Borderlands/La frontera: The New Mestiza, Anzaldúa played a major role in shaping contemporary Chicano/a and lesbian/queer theories and identities. As an editor of three multicultural anthologies, including the groundbreaking This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, she played an equally vital role in developing an inclusionary, multicultural feminist movement. 

A versatile author, Anzaldúa published poetry, theoretical essays, short stories, autobiographical narratives, interviews, and children's books. Her work, which has been included in more than 100 anthologies to date, has helped to transform academic fields including American, Chicano/a, composition, ethnic, literary, and women's studies. 

Providing a representative sample of the poetry, prose, fiction, and experimental autobiographical writing that Anzaldúa produced during her thirty-year career, The Gloria Anzaldúa Reader demonstrates the breadth and philosophical depth of her work.

While the Reader contains much of Anzaldúa's published writing (including several pieces now out of print), more than half the material has never before been published. This previously unpublished work offers insight into crucial aspects of Anzaldúa's life and career, including her upbringing, education, teaching experiences, writing practice and aesthetics, lifelong health struggles, and interest in visual art, as well as her theories of disability, multiculturalism, pedagogy, and spiritual activism.

The pieces are arranged chronologically; each one is preceded by a brief introduction. The collection includes a glossary of Anzaldúa's key terms and concepts, a timeline of her life, primary and secondary bibliographies, and a detailed index.

Mexican American Literature: The Politics of Identity 
(Routledge Transnational Perspectives on American Literature)   
Routledge; 1 edition 2009 ISBN-10: 0415544068Paperback
Elizabeth Jacob

Presenting an up-to-date critical perspective as well as a cultural, political and historical context, this book is an excellent introduction to Mexican American literature, affording readers the major novels, drama and poetry. This volume presents fresh and original readings of major works, and with its historiographic and cultural analysis, impressively delivers key information to the reader. 

The book sheds light on the relationship between politics and form in the novel, an issue that has long intrigued literary scholars. This timely and original study will appeal to scholars and students of American literature, ethnic studies, Latino studies, critical race theory, and Marxist literary theory.

Postethnic Narrative Criticism: Magicorealism in Oscar 'Zeta' Acosta, Ana Castillo, Julie Dash, Hanif Kureishi, and Salman Rushdie  
University of Texas Press; 1 edition 2009
ISBN-10: 0292722109
Frederick Luis Aldama

Magical realism has become almost synonymous with Latin American fiction, but this way of representing the layered and often contradictory reality of the topsy-turvy, late-capitalist, globalizing world finds equally vivid expression in U.S. multi-ethnic and British post-colonial literature and film. Writers and filmmakers such as Oscar "Zeta" Acosta, Ana Castillo, Julie Dash, Hanif Kureishi, and Salman Rushdie have made brilliant use of magical realism to articulate the trauma of dislocation and the legacies of colonialism that people of color experience in the post-colonial, multi-ethnic world. 

This book seeks to redeem and refine the theory of magical realism in U.S. multi-ethnic and British post-colonial literature and film. Frederick Aldama engages in theoretically sophisticated readings of Ana Castillo's So Far from God, Oscar "Zeta" Acosta's Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo, Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, Shame, The Satanic Verses, and The Moor's Last Sigh, Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust, and Stephen Frears and Hanif Kureishi's Sammy and Rosie Get Laid. Coining the term "magicorealism" to characterize these works, Aldama not only creates a post-ethnic critical methodology for enlarging the contact zone between the genres of novel, film, and autobiography, but also shatters the interpretive lens that traditionally confuses the transcription of the real world, where truth and falsity apply, with narrative modes governed by other criteria.

Postethnic Narrative Criticism Magicorealism in Oscar "Zeta" Acosta, Ana Castillo, Julie Dash, Hanif Kureishi, and Salman Rushdie

Toward a Latina Feminism of the Americas: Repression and Resistance in Chicana and Mexicana Literature
 (Chicana Matters) Paperback Univ of Texas Press ISBN-13: 978-0292721661
 Anna Marie Sandoval 

Weaving strands of Chicana and Mexicana subjectivities, Toward a Latina Feminism of the Americas explores political and theoretical agendas, particularly those that undermine the patriarchy, across a diverse range of Latina authors. 

Within this range, calls for a coalition are clear, but questions surrounding the process of these revolutionary dialogues provide important lines of inquiry. Examining the works of authors such as Sandra Cisneros, Laura Esquivel, Carmen Boullosa, and Helena Maria Viramontes, Anna Sandoval considers resistance to traditional cultural symbols and contemporary efforts to counteract negative representations of womanhood in literature and society. 

Offering a new perspective on the oppositional nature of Latina writers, Sandoval emphasizes the ways in which national literatures have privileged male authors, whose viewpoint is generally distinct from that of women - a point of departure rarely acknowledged in post-colonial theory. Applying her observations to the disciplinary, historical, and spatial facets of literary production, Sandoval interrogates the boundaries of the Latina experience. 

Building on the dialogues begun with such works as Sonia Saldivar-Hull's "Feminism on the Border" and Ellen McCracken's "New Latina Narrative", this is a concise yet ambitious comparative approach to the historical and cultural connections (as well as disparities) found in Chicana and Mexicana literature. 

Transnational Latina Narratives in the Twenty-first Century: The Politics of Gender, Race, and Migrations
Hardcover -Palgrave Macmillan; First Edition edition 2009 
ISBN-10: 0230617379
Juanita Heredia

Transnational Latina Narratives is the first critical study of its kind to examine twenty-first-century Latina narratives by female authors of diverse Latin American heritages based in the U.S. 

Heredia’s comparative perspective on gender, race and migrations between Latin America and the U.S. demonstrates the changing national landscape that needs to accommodate an ever-growing Latino/a presence. This book draws on the work of Denise Chávez, Sandra Cisneros, Marta Moreno Vega, Angie Cruz, and Marie Arana, as well as a diverse blend of popular culture. Heredia’s thought-provoking insights seek to empower the representation of women who are transnational ambassadors in modern trans-American literature.

Threshold Time: Passage of Crisis in Chicano Literature
 (Costerus New Series) Paperback Rodopi 2008 
ISBN-10: 9042023325
Lene M. Johannessen

Threshold Time provides an introductory survey of the cultural, social and political history of Mexican American and Chicano literature, as well as a new in-depth analysis of a selection of works that between them span a hundred years of this particular branch of American literature. 

The book begins its explorations of the "passage of crisis" with Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton's The Squatter and the Don, continues with Americo Paredes' George Washington Gómez, Tomás Rivera's .And the Earth Did Not Devour Him, Richard Rodriguez's Hunger of Memory, and ends with Helena María Viramontes' Under the Feet of Jesus and Benjamin Alire Sáenz' Carry Me Like Water

In order to do justice to the idiosyncrasies of the individual texts and the complexities they embrace, the analysis refer to a number of other texts belonging to the tradition, and draw on a wide range of theoretical approaches. The final chapter of Threshold Time brings the various readings together in a discussion circumscribed by the negotiations of a temporality that is strongly aligned with a sense of memory peculiar to the history of the Chicano presence in the United States of America.

Chicano Novels and the Politics of Form: Race, Class, and Reification 
(Class : Culture) Paperback Univ of Mich Press
Marcial Gonzalez

 The field of Mexican American fiction has exploded since the 1990s, yet there has been relatively little critical assessment of this burgeoning area in American literature. Chicano Novels and the Politics of Form is a provocative and timely study of literary form that focuses on the fiction of four writers whose work spans a century: María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Oscar Zeta Acosta, Danny Santiago, and Cecile Pineda.

Drawing on the Marxist concepts of reification to examine the connections between social history and narrative, Marcial González highlights the relationship between race and class in these works and situates them as historical responses to Mexican American racial, political, and social movements since the late nineteenth century.

The book sheds light on the relationship between politics and form in the novel, an issue that has long intrigued literary scholars. This timely and original study will appeal to scholars and students of American literature, ethnic studies, Latino studies, critical race theory, and Marxist literary theory.

Chicana Sexuality and Gender: Cultural Refiguring in Literature, Oral History, and Art 
(Latin America Otherwise) Paperback - Duke University Press
Debra J.Blake (Author), Walter D.Mignolo (Series Editor), Irene Silverblatt (Series Editor)

"Since the 1980s Chicana writers including Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga, Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, and Alma Luz Villanueva have reworked iconic Mexican cultural symbols such as mother earth goddesses and La Llorona (the Wailing Woman of Mexican folklore), re-imagining them as powerful female figures. After reading the works of Chicana writers who created bold, powerful, and openly sexual female characters, Debra J. Blake wondered how everyday Mexican American women would characterize their own lives in relation to the writers' radical reconfigurations of female sexuality and gender roles.

To find out, Blake gathered oral histories from working-class and semiprofessional U.S. Mexicanas. In Chicana Sexuality and Gender, she compares the self-representations of these women with fictional and artistic representations by academic-affiliated, professional intellectual Chicana writers and visual artists, including Alma M. Lopez and Yolanda Lopez."

Blake looks at how the Chicana professional intellectuals and the U.S. Mexicana women re-figure confining and demeaning constructions of female gender roles and racial, ethnic, and sexual identities. She organizes her analysis around re-imaginings of La Virgen de Guadalupe, La Llorona, indigenous Mexica goddesses, and La Malinche, the indigenous interpreter for Hernan Cortis during the Spanish conquest.

In doing so, Blake reveals how the professional intellectuals and the working-class and semiprofessional women rework or invoke the female icons to confront the repression of female sexuality, limiting gender roles, inequality in male and female relationships, and violence against women.

While the representational strategies of the two groups of women are significantly different and the U.S. Mexicanas would not necessarily call themselves feminists, Blake nonetheless illuminates a continuum of Chicana feminist thinking, showing how both groups of women expand lifestyle choices and promote the health and well-being of women of Mexican origin or descent.

Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism and Chicana/o Literature  
University of Texas Press  2008 
ISBN-10: 0292717970
(Chicana Matters) [Paperback](Univ of Texas)
Sheila Marie Contreras 

 Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature examines a broad array of texts that have contributed to the formation of an indigenous strand of Chicano cultural politics. In particular, this book exposes the ethnographic and poetic discourses that shaped the aesthetics and stylistics of Chicano nationalism and Chicana feminism. 

Contreras offers original perspectives on writers ranging from Alurista and Gloria Anzaldúa to Lorna Dee Cervantes and Alma Luz Villanueva, effectively marking the invocation of a Chicano indigeneity whose foundations and formulations can be linked to U.S. and British modernist writing. By highlighting intertextualities such as those between Anzaldúa and D. H. Lawrence, Contreras critiques the resilience of primitivism in the Mexican borderlands. 

She questions established cultural perspectives on "the native," which paradoxically challenge and reaffirm racialized representations of Indians in the Americas. In doing so, Blood Lines brings a new understanding to the contradictory and richly textured literary relationship that links the projects of European modernism and Anglo-American authors, on the one hand, and the imaginary of the post-revolutionary Mexican state and Chicano/a writers, on the other hand.

Emperatriz de las Américas: La Virgen de Guadalupe en la Literatura Chicana 
(Spanish Edition)(Publicacions Universitat de Valencia Apr 2010 
ISBN-10: 8437077508)
María Jesús Cástro Dopacio. 

Este estudio se centra en el análisis del icono espiritual más relevante entre la población chicana de EEUU: la Virgen de Guadalupe. Las relecturas efectuadas por voces silenciadas hasta hoy, permiten descubrir cómo se han elaborado discursos plurales y novedosos en torno a esta imagen religiosa, herencia del catolicismo español implantado en el continente americano.

Los textos analizados proponen una revisión del estereotipo de femineidad ideal transmitido por la figura guadalupana desde el punto de vista institucional. Pese a las cambiantes reubicaciones geopolíticas, el símbolo guadalupano continúa estando vigente gracias a la actualización de significados llevada a cabo en las letras chicanas.

Performing Mexicanidad: Vendidas y Cabareteras on the Transnational Stage 
(Chicana Matters) Univ of Texas Press; 1 edition 
May 2010 ISBN-10: 0292722885),
Laura G. Gutiérrez. 

Using interdisciplinary performance studies and cultural studies frameworks, Laura G. Gutiérrez examines the cultural representation of queer sexuality in the contemporary cultural production of Mexican female and Chicana performance and visual artists. In particular, she locates the analytical lenses of feminist theory and queer theory in a central position to interrogate Mexican female dissident sexualities in transnational public culture.

La Pinta: Chicana/o Prisoner Literature, Culture, and Politics 
Univ of Texas Press January 2010 ISBN-10:0292719612
B. V. Olguín. 

In this groundbreaking study based on archival research about Chicana(o) prisoners — known as Pintas and Pintos — as well as fresh interpretations of works by renowned Pinta and Pinto authors and activists, Olguín provides crucial insights into the central roles that incarceration and the incarcerated have

played in the evolution of Chicana(o)a history, cultural paradigms, and oppositional political praxis. This is the first text on prisoners in general, and Chicana(o) and Latina(o) prisoners in particular, that provides a range of case studies from the 19th century to the present.

Postnationalism in Chicana/o Literature and Culture
Univ of Texas Press May 2010 ISBN-10: 0292723466
Ellie D. Hernández. 

In recent decades, Chicana(o) literary and cultural productions have dramatically shifted from a nationalist movement that emphasized unity to one that openly celebrates diverse experiences. Charting this transformation, this book looks to the late 1970s, during a resurgence of global culture, as a crucial turning point whose reverberations in 21st century late capitalism have been profound.

Reading Chican@ Like a Queer: The De-Mastery of Desire 
(Cmas History, Culture, & Society Series)
Univ of Texas Press Mar 2010 ISBN-10: 0292721749
Sandra K. Soto

A race-based oppositional paradigm has informed Chicano studies since its emergence. In this work, Soto

replaces that paradigm with a less didactic, more flexible framework geared for a queer analysis of the discursive relationship between racialization and sexuality. Through re-readings of a diverse range of widely discussed writers — from Américo Paredes to Cherríe Moraga — Soto demonstrates that representations of racialization actually depend on the sexual and that a racialized sexuality is a heretofore unrecognized organizing principle of Chican@ literature, even in the most unlikely texts. www.utexas.edu/utpress

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