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Reading Chican@ Like a Queer

The De-Mastery of Desire

By Sandra K. Soto

Publication Year: 2010

A race-based oppositional paradigm has informed Chicano studies since its emergence. In this work, Sandra K. 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 rereadings 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. Soto gives us a broader and deeper engagement with Chican@ representations of racialization, desire, and both inter- and intracultural social relations. While several scholars have begun to take sexuality seriously by invoking the rich terrain of contemporary Chicana feminist literature for its portrayal of culturally specific and historically laden gender and sexual frameworks, as well as for its imaginative transgressions against them, this is the first study to theorize racialized sexuality as pervasive to and enabling of the canon of Chican@ literature. Exemplifying the broad usefulness of queer theory by extending its critical tools and anti-heteronormative insights to racialization, Soto stages a crucial intervention amid a certain loss of optimism that circulates both as a fear that queer theory was a fad whose time has passed, and that queer theory is incapable of offering an incisive, politically grounded analysis in and of the current historical moment.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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Title Page

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p. iii


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p. iv


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p. vii

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pp. ix-xi

Reading Chican@ Like a Queer has a rhizomatic formation. The metaphor of a plant’s subterranean roots—creeping this way and that, forking here and there, but always working to feed what is above ground—strikes me as the best way to index how this book is rooted in a multiplicity of radically different...

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pp. 1-14

THE GROWING DISSATISFACTION over the past twenty-five years with monological and monocausal approaches to subjectivity and power has motivated some of the most powerful experiential creative writings by women of color, such as those included in the edited...

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1. Making Familia from Racialized Sexuality

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pp. 15-37

IN HER SHORT PROSE PIECE entitled “The Slow Dance,” Cherríe Moraga comes as close as she has ever come to offering a “coming-out” story. The piece is a carefully crafted tribute to butch/femme desire that centers on Moraga remembering her enthrallment over watching two women...

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2. Fixing Up the House of Race with Richard Rodriguez

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pp. 39-58

IN A 1999 INTERVIEW with Timothy S. Sedore, the powerful Mexican American public intellectual Richard Rodriguez makes an unlikely confession. Radically departing from the calculated indifference with which he customarily responds to critics of his controversial autobiography,...

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3. Queering the Conquest with Ana Castillo

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pp. 59-86

IN A LETTER WRITTEN to Ana Castillo on 1 January 1979, Nicolás Kanellos, then editor of the Revista Chicano-Riqueña, provided critical feedback on her manuscript of erotic poetry and prose pieces that would be published later that year as The Invitation.1 “The book looks very good,” he wrote. “I...

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4. Américo Paredes and the De-Mastery of Desire

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pp. 87-120

THIS CHAPTER MOVES BACK in time to reconsider, from the vantage point of post-1980s Chicana feminist and queer imaginaries, the work of a Chicano writer who is widely considered to be the “father” of Chicano letters, the late “Don” Américo Paredes (1915–1999). Although...

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pp. 121-126

NOTABLY ABSENT IN THE preceding chapters is a stable, masterful definition of racialized sexuality. I have attempted instead to emphasize the unpredictable, polymorphous, and often contradictory representations of the mutual constitution of racialization and...


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pp. 127-147


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pp. 149-161


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pp. 163-171

E-ISBN-13: 9780292792814
E-ISBN-10: 0292792816
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292721746
Print-ISBN-10: 0292721749

Page Count: 183
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 608692477
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Reading Chican@ Like a Queer

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mexican Americans in literature.
  • American literature -- Mexican American authors -- History and criticism.
  • Mexican Americans -- Race identity.
  • Desire in literature.
  • Sex in literature.
  • Race in literature -- Congresses.
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