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There Was a Woman

La Llorona from Folklore to Popular Culture

By Domino Renee Perez

Publication Year: 2008

“How is it that there are so many lloronas?” A haunting figure of Mexican oral and literary traditions, La Llorona permeates the consciousness of her folk community. From a ghost who haunts the riverbank to a murderous mother condemned to wander the earth after killing her own children in an act of revenge or grief, the Weeping Woman has evolved within Chican@ imaginations across centuries, yet no truly comprehensive examination of her impact existed until now. Tracing La Llorona from ancient oral tradition to her appearance in contemporary material culture, There Was a Woman delves into the intriguing transformations of this provocative icon. From La Llorona's roots in legend to the revisions of her story and her exaltation as a symbol of resistance, Domino Renee Perez illuminates her many permutations as seductress, hag, demon, or pitiful woman. Perez draws on more than two hundred artifacts to provide vivid representations of the ways in which these perceived identities are woven from abstract notions—such as morality or nationalism—and from concrete, often misunderstood concepts from advertising to television and literature. The result is a rich and intricate survey of a powerful figure who continues to be reconfigured.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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Title Page, Copyright page

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p. vii


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pp. ix-17

Ac knowledgments

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pp. xvii-xix

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pp. 1-14

"How is it that there is so many lloronas? [. . .] in my family we believe its a mexican legend and that La Llorona is one woman who drowned her kids in a river and she wanders by the river in some place in Mexico."

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pp. 15-36

"JORGE A. HUERTA'S play La Llorona (1978) opens with the guitar strains of the traditional Mexican folksong of the same name. Against this backdrop, the actors, who form a semicircle facing the audience, together shout, '

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pp. 37-69

"IN AN EXCERPT from Mexican writer Carmen Toscano’s play La Llorona (1959), which was published as a dramatic dialogue in Literatura Chicana: Texto y contexto (1972), the character Fourth Woman says of La Llorona, 'What merciless destiny drags her through the silent streets, / and over the most hidden paths. ..."

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pp. 71-107

"The official version was a lie. I knew that from the same bone that first held the memory of the cuento. Who would kill their kid over some man dumping them?"

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pp. 109-143

"THE READING of the artifacts analyzed in the previous chapters show how Chican@s are working within or redrawing the boundaries of La Llorona stories to generate cultural criticism. Identifying revisions of the lore that feature the legendary figure as a symbol of resistance brings to light the ways in which La Llorona can serve as an agent of change for other women. Artifacts that retain ..."

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pp. 145-177

"Dialogue has never existed between the First and Third worlds. We must not confuse dialogue with neo-colonialism, paternalism, vampirism, or..."

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pp. 179-193

"What incredible power lies in this woman of legend that we have dismissed as a bogey woman of the river. We’ve used her to frighten children, when we should be using her to raise them—the new children of a new era who..."

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pp. 195-208

"IN TONI MORRISON'S Pulitzer Prize–winning novel Beloved (1987), we are told that the narrative—made tangible through the lives of Sethe, Paul D., Baby Suggs, Denver, and Beloved, to name a few—is 'not a story to pass on.' Some readers may interpret the line to mean that no one should ever have to experience the events of the novel in this way and that..."


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pp. 209-237


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pp. 239-253


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pp. 255-270

Permissions Ac knowledgments

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pp. 271-272

E-ISBN-13: 9780292794276
E-ISBN-10: 0292794274
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292718111
Print-ISBN-10: 029271811X

Page Count: 302
Illustrations: 30 halftones, 12 color photos
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 311058846
MUSE Marc Record: Download for There Was a Woman

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Legends -- Mexico.
  • Popular culture -- Mexico.
  • Mexican Americans -- Folklore.
  • Llorona (Legendary character).
  • Mexico -- Folklore.
  • United States -- Folklore.
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