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With Her Machete in Her Hand

Reading Chicana Lesbians

By Catrióna Rueda Esquibel

Publication Year: 2006

With the 1981 publication of the groundbreaking anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa ushered in an era of Chicana lesbian writing. But while these two writers have achieved iconic status, observers of the Chicana/o experience have been slow to perceive the existence of a whole community—lesbian and straight, male as well as female—who write about the Chicana lesbian experience. To create a first full map of that community, this book explores a wide range of plays, novels, and short stories by Chicana/o authors that depict lesbian characters or lesbian desire. Catrióna Rueda Esquibel starts from the premise that Chicana/o communities, theories, and feminisms cannot be fully understood without taking account of the perspectives and experiences of Chicana lesbians. To open up these perspectives, she engages in close readings of works centered around the following themes: La Llorona, the Aztec Princess, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, girlhood friendships, rural communities and history, and Chicana activism. Her investigation broadens the community of Chicana lesbian writers well beyond Moraga and Anzaldúa, while it also demonstrates that the histories of Chicana lesbians have had to be written in works of fiction because these women have been marginalized and excluded in canonical writings on Chicano life and experience.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: Chicana Matters


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p. vii

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pp. ix-xi

This book is the result of my partnership with Luz Calvo. I thank her for her collegiality, her love, her questioning of my logic and my language but never my capability or integrity. Her arms stretch me, her food nourishes me, her rooms shelter me, and she inspires every poem. ...

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Prologue: A Chicana Lesbian Scholar’s Tale

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pp. xiii-xvi

I have spent the past ten years as a private detective, investigating the stories, the authors, the journals and anthologies, scrutinizing notes on contributors, peering through dusty photographs of authors, jotting notes in my tattered little notebooks. Ashamed, yet excited, I waded knee-deep into stories, into drama. ...

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Introduction: History

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pp. 1-8

Chicana lesbians have been appearing in print for over thirty years. They have been created by heterosexual Chicanas and Chicanos, by lesbian Chicanas, and by other writers whose works fall both within and outside Chicano/a literature. Yet Chicana lesbian writing has yet to be studied as a distinct field—as a body of work ...

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CHAPTER 1. Chicana Lesbian Fictions

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pp. 9-21

The issue of visibility of Chicana (and in many of the cases below, Latina) lesbians is full of ambiguity. Lesbian writers have not always chosen to differentiate themselves from their heterosexual colleagues, either in their writings or in their public statements about their identities. Anthologies of Chicana writing ...

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CHAPTER 2. The Mystery of the Weeping Woman

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pp. 22-41

During my second year as a Ph.D. student, I was a teaching assistant in my first-ever Chicano/a studies class, and I was alternately dubious, furious, and inspired. One of the lectures by Shirley Flores-Muñoz, the instructor, was titled “Post-Colonial Myth, or, A Message from the Past: La Llorona, La Malinche, ...

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CHAPTER 3. Black Velvet Fantasies: “The” Aztec Princess in the Chicana/o Sexual Imagination

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pp. 42-65

Cherríe Moraga lays claim to an economy of desire shared, not along the lines of sexual orientation, but through a cultural imaginary that crosses the border between the United States and Mexico. Moraga’s provocation inspires me to explore Chicana lesbian representations, to articulate the connections between ...

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CHAPTER 4. Sor Juana and the Search for (Queer) Cultural Heroes

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pp. 66-90

Sor Juana In

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CHAPTER 5. Memories of Girlhood: Chicana Lesbian Fictions

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pp. 91-127

In my research on Chicana literature, I found a series of stories in which girlhood provides a space, however restrictive, for lesbian desire. In the socially sanctioned system of comadrazgo, young Chicanas are encouraged to form lifelong female friendships, and it is the intimacy of these relationships that often ...

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CHAPTER 6. Shameless Histories: Talking Race/Talking Sex

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pp. 128-144

To understand this literary engagement with queer Chicana history, I have found it extremely valuable to examine the research of Chicana feminist historians. For example, Deena Gonz

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CHAPTER 7. Queer for the Revolution: The Representation of Politics and the Politics of Representation

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pp. 145-175

This chapter focuses on the representation of Chicana/o politics in queer Chicana writings, specifically in two plays by Cherr

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CHAPTER 8. Conclusion: With Her Machete in Her Hand

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pp. 176-182

Ramón Saldívar (1990) contends that to fully appreciate Chicano/a fiction, it is necessary to examine its genealogy, in particular, its relationship to the discursive erasure of Mexican Americans from the history of the American West. Saldívar observes that such texts “signify the imaginary ways in which historical men ...

APPENDIX. Toward a Chronological Bibliography of Chicana Lesbian Fictions, 1971–2000

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pp. 183-190


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pp. 191-206


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pp. 207-242


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pp. 243-245

E-ISBN-13: 9780292796256
E-ISBN-10: 0292796250
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292709713
Print-ISBN-10: 0292709714

Page Count: 263
Illustrations: 4 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: Chicana Matters
Series Editor Byline: Deena J. González and Antonia Castañeda series editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 657193711
MUSE Marc Record: Download for With Her Machete in Her Hand

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Subject Headings

  • Lesbians' writings, American -- History and criticism.
  • American literature -- Mexican American authors -- History and criticism.
  • American literature -- Women authors -- History and criticism.
  • Mexican American lesbians -- Intellectual life.
  • Mexican American women -- Intellectual life.
  • Women and literature -- United States.
  • Mexican American women in literature.
  • Mexican Americans in literature.
  • Lesbians in literature.
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