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Afro-Cuban Costumbrismo

From Plantations to the Slums

Rafael Ocasio

Costumbrismo, which refers to depictions of life in Latin America during the nineteenth century, introduced some of the earliest black themes in Cuban literature. Rafael Ocasio delves into this literature to offer up a new perspective on the development of Cuban identity, as influenced by black culture and religion, during the sugar cane boom.

Comments about the slave trade and the treatment of slaves were often censored in Cuban publications; nevertheless white Costumbrista writers reported on a vast catalogue of stereotypes, religious beliefs, and musical folklore, and on rich African traditions in major Cuban cities. Exploring rare and seldom discussed nineteenth-century texts, Ocasio offers insight into the nuances of black representation in Costumbrismo while analyzing authors such as Suárez y Romero, an abolitionist who wrote from the perspective of a plantation owner.

Afro-Cuban Costumbrismo expands the idea of what texts constitute Costumbrismo and debunks the traditional notion that this writing reveals little about the Afro-Cuban experience. The result is a novel examination of how white writers' representations of black culture heavily inform our current understanding of nineteenth-century Afro-Cuban culture and national identity.

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Américo Paredes

Culture and Critique

By José E. Limón

A rich critical study of the literary legacies bestowed by the late Américo Paredes (1915–1999), and the intellectual paths he created as a distinguished folklore scholar and one of the forebears of Mexican American Studies.

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Barrio-Logos

Space and Place in Urban Chicano Literature and Culture

By Raúl Homero Villa

Struggles over space and resistance to geographic displacement gave rise to much of Chicano history and culture. In this pathfinding book, Raúl Villa explores how California Chicano/a writers, journalists, artists, activists, and musicians have used expressive culture to oppose the community-destroying forces of urban renewal programs and massive freeway development and to create and defend a sense of Chicano place-identity. Villa opens with a historical overview that shows how Chicano communities and culture have developed in response to conflicts over space ever since the United States’ annexation of Mexican territory in the 1840s. Then, turning to the work of contemporary members of the Chicano intelligentsia such as poet Lorna Dee Cervantes, novelist Ron Arias, and the art collective RCAF (Rebel Chicano Art Front), Villa demonstrates how their expressive practices re-imagine and re-create the dominant urban space as a community enabling place. In doing so, he illuminates the endless interplay in which cultural texts and practices are shaped by and act upon their social and political contexts.

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Blood Lines

Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature

By 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.

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The Book of Count Lucanor and Patronio

A Translation of Don Juan Manuel's El Conde Lucanor

Don Juan Manuel. translated by John E. Keller and L. Clark Keating

Don Juan Manuel, nephew of King Alfonso X, The Wise, knew well the appeal of exempla (moralized tales), which he believed should entertain if they were to provide ways and means for solving life's problems. His fourteenth-century book, known as El Conde lucanor, is considered by many to be the purest Spanish prose before the immortal Don Quixote of Cervantes written two centuries later. He found inspiration for his tales in classical and eastern literatures, Spanish history, and folklore. His stories are not translations, but are his retelling of some of the best stories in existence. The translation succeeds in making the author speak as clearly to the modern reader as to readers of his own time.

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The Book of the Knight Zifar

A Translation of El Libro del Cavallero Zifar

translated by Charles L. Nelson

The Book of the Knight Zifar (or Cifar), Spain's first novel of chivalry, is the tale of a virtuous but unfortunate knight who has fallen from grace and must seek redemption through suffering and good deeds. Because of a curse that repeatedly deprives him of that most important of knightly accoutrements -- his horse -- Zifar and his family must flee their native India and wander through distant lands seeking to regain their rank and fortune. A series of mishaps divides the family, and the novel follows their separate adventures -- alternatively heroic, comic, and miraculous -- until at length they are reunited and their honor restored.

The anonymous author of Zifar based his early fourteenth-century novel on the medieval story of the life of St. Eustacius, but onto this trunk he grafted a surprising variety of narrative types: Oriental tales of romance and magic, biblical stories, moralizing fables popular since the Middle Ages, including several from Aesop, and instructions in the rules of proper knightly conduct. Humor in the form of puns, jokes, and old proverbs also runs through the novel. In particular, the foolish/wise Knave offers a comic contrast to the heroic Knight, whom he must continually rescue through the application of common sense.

Zifar was to have an important influence on later Spanish literature, and perhaps on Cervantes' great tale of a knight and his squire, Don Quixote. All those with an interest in Spanish literature and medieval life will be grateful for Mr. Nelson's excellent translation, which brings to life this extraordinary early novel.

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Border Renaissance

The Texas Centennial and the Emergence of Mexican American Literature

By John Morán González

A watershed revision in the history of Mexican American literature and culture, revealing the crucial role played by the Texas Centennial of 1936 in crystallizing a new, politicized ethnic identity.

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Broken Souths

Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization

Michael Dowdy

Broken Souths offers the first in-depth study of the diverse field of contemporary Latina/o poetry. Its innovative angle of approach puts Latina/o and Latin American poets into sustained conversation in original and rewarding ways. In addition, author Michael Dowdy presents ecocritical readings that foreground the environmental dimensions of current Latina/o poetics.
 
Dowdy argues that a transnational Latina/o imaginary has emerged in response to neoliberalism—the free-market philosophy that underpins what many in the northern hemisphere refer to as “globalization.” His work examines how poets represent the places that have been “broken” by globalization’s political, economic, and environmental upheavals. Broken Souths locates the roots of the new imaginary in 1968, when the Mexican student movement crested and the Chicano and Nuyorican movements emerged in the United States. It theorizes that Latina/o poetics negotiates tensions between the late 1960s’ oppositional, collective identities and the present day’s radical individualisms and discourses of assimilation, including the “post-colonial,” “post-national,” and “post-revolutionary.” Dowdy is particularly interested in how Latina/o poetics reframes debates in cultural studies and critical geography on the relation between place, space, and nature.
 
Broken Souths features discussions of Latina/o writers such as Victor Hernández Cruz, Martín Espada, Juan Felipe Herrera, Guillermo Verdecchia, Marcos McPeek Villatoro, Maurice Kilwein Guevara, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Jack Agüeros, Marjorie Agosín, Valerie Martínez, and Ariel Dorfman, alongside discussions of influential Latin American writers, including Roberto Bolaño, Ernesto Cardenal, David Huerta, José Emilio Pacheco, and Raúl Zurita.

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Brown Gumshoes

Detective Fiction and the Search for Chicana/o Identity

By Ralph E. Rodriguez

Popular fiction, with its capacity for diversion, can mask important cultural observations within a framework that is often overlooked in the academic world. Works thought to be merely “escapist” can often be more seriously mined for revelations regarding the worlds they portray, especially those of the disenfranchised. As detective fiction has slowly earned critical respect, more authors from minority groups have chosen it as their medium. Chicana/o authors, previously reluctant to write in an underestimated genre that might further marginalize them, have only entered the world of detective fiction in the past two decades. In this book, the first comprehensive study of Chicano/a detective fiction, Ralph E. Rodriguez examines the recent contributions to the genre by writers such as Rudolfo Anaya, Lucha Corpi, Rolando Hinojosa, Michael Nava, and Manuel Ramos. Their works reveal the struggles of Chicanas/os with feminism, homosexuality, familia, masculinity, mysticism, the nationalist subject, and U.S.-Mexico border relations. He maintains that their novels register crucial new discourses of identity, politics, and cultural citizenship that cannot be understood apart from the historical instability following the demise of the nationalist politics of the Chicana/o movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In contrast to that time, when Chicanas/os sought a unified Chicano identity in order to effect social change, the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s have seen a disengagement from these nationalist politics and a new trend toward a heterogeneous sense of self. The detective novel and its traditional focus on questions of knowledge and identity turned out to be the perfect medium in which to examine this new self.

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Brown on Brown

Chicano/a Representations of Gender, Sexuality, and Ethnicity

By Frederick Luis Aldama

Common conceptions permeating U.S. ethnic queer theory tend to confuse aesthetics with real-world acts and politics. Often Chicano/a representations of gay and lesbian experiences in literature and film are analyzed simply as propaganda. The cognitive, emotional, and narrational ingredients (that is, the subject matter and the formal traits) of those representations are frequently reduced to a priori agendas that emphasize a politics of difference. In this book, Frederick Luis Aldama follows an entirely different approach. He investigates the ways in which race and gay/lesbian sexuality intersect and operate in Chicano/a literature and film while taking into full account their imaginative nature and therefore the specific kind of work invested in them. Also, Aldama frames his analyses within today's larger (globalized) context of postcolonial literary and filmic canons that seek to normalize heterosexual identity and experience. Throughout the book, Aldama applies his innovative approach to throw new light on the work of authors Arturo Islas, Richard Rodriguez, John Rechy, Ana Castillo, and Sheila Ortiz Taylor, as well as that of film director Edward James Olmos. In doing so, Aldama aims to integrate and deepen Chicano literary and filmic studies within a comparative perspective. Aldama's unusual juxtapositions of narrative materials and cultural personae, and his premise that literature and film produce fictional examples of a social and historical reality concerned with ethnic and sexual issues largely unresolved, make this book relevant to a wide range of readers.

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