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In Visible Movement

Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam

Urayoan Noel

Since the 1960s, Nuyorican poets have explored and performed Puerto Rican identity both on and off the page. Emerging within and alongside the civil rights movements of the 1960s, the foundational Nuyorican writers sought to counter the ethnic/racial and institutional invisibility of New York City Puerto Ricans by documenting the reality of their communities in innovative and sometimes challenging ways. Since then, Nuyorican poetry has entered the U.S. Latino literary canon and has gained prominence in light of the spoken-word revival of the past two decades, a movement spearheaded by the Nuyorican Poetry Slams of the 1990s. Today, Nuyorican poetry engages with contemporary social issues such as the commodification of the body, the institutionalization of poetry, the gentrification of the barrio, and the national and global marketing of identity. What has not changed is a continued shared investment in a poetics that links the written word and the performing body.

The first book-length study specifically devoted to Nuyorican poetry, In Visible Movement is unique in its historical and formal breadth, ranging from the foundational poets of the 1960s and 1970s to a variety of contemporary poets emerging in and around the Nuyorican Poets Cafe “slam” scene of the 1990s and early 2000s. It also unearths a largely unknown corpus of poetry performances, reading over forty years of Nuyorican poetry at the intersection of the printed and performed word, underscoring the poetry’s links to vernacular and Afro-Puerto Rican performance cultures, from the island’s oral poets to the New York sounds and rhythms of Latin boogaloo, salsa, and hip-hop. With depth and insight, Urayoán Noel analyzes various canonical Nuyorican poems by poets such as Pedro Pietri, Victor Hernández Cruz, Miguel Algarín, Miguel Piñero, Sandra María Esteves, and Tato Laviera. He discusses historically overlooked poets such as Lorraine Sutton, innovative poets typically read outside the Nuyorican tradition such as Frank Lima and Edwin Torres, and a younger generation of Nuyorican-identified poets including Willie Perdomo, María Teresa Mariposa Fernández, and Emanuel Xavier, whose work has received only limited critical consideration. The result is a stunning reflection of how New York Puerto Rican poets have addressed the complexity of identity amid diaspora for over forty years.

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Inhabiting La Patria

Identity, Agency, and Antojo in the Work of Julia Alvarez

Examines the work of prolific Dominican American writer Julia Alvarez.

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Intersections of Harm

Narratives of Latina Deviance and Defiance

Laura Halperin

In this innovative new study, Laura Halperin examines literary representations of harm inflicted on Latinas’ minds and bodies, and on the places Latinas inhabit, but she also explores how hope can be found amid so much harm. Analyzing contemporary memoirs and novels by Irene Vilar, Loida Maritza Pérez, Ana Castillo, Cristina García, and Julia Alvarez, she argues that the individual harm experienced by Latinas needs to be understood in relation to the collective histories of aggression against their communities. 
 
Intersections of Harm is more than just a nuanced examination of the intersections among race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. It also explores the intersections of deviance and defiance, individual and collective, and mind, body, and place. Halperin proposes that, ironically, the harmful ascriptions of Latina deviance are tied to the hopeful expressions of Latina defiance. While the Latina protagonists’ defiance feeds into the labels of deviance imposed on them, it also fuels the protagonists’ ability to resist such harmful treatment.  In this analysis, Halperin broadens the parameters of literary studies of female madness, as she compels us to shift our understanding of where madness lies. She insists that the madness readily attributed to individual Latinas is entwined with the madness of institutional structures of oppression, and she maintains that psychological harm is bound together with physical and geopolitical harm.
 
In her pan-Latina study, Halperin shows how each writer’s work emerges from a unique set of locales and histories, but she also traces a network of connections among them. Bringing together concepts from feminism, postcolonialism, illness studies, and ecocriticism, Intersections of Harm opens up exciting new avenues for Latina/o studies. 
 
 
 

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The King of Lighting Fixtures

Stories

Daniel A. Olivas

Wanderers and writers, gangbangers and lawyers, dreamers and devils. The King of Lighting Fixtures paints an idiosyncratic but honest portrait of Los Angeles, depicting how the city both entrances and confounds. Each story serves as a reflection of Daniel A. Olivas’s grand City of Angels, a “magical metropolis where dreams come true.”

The characters here represent all walks of L.A. life—from Satan’s reluctant Craigslist roommate to a young girl coping with trauma at her brother’s wake—and their tales ebb and flow among various styles, including magical realism, social realism, and speculative fiction. Like a jazz album, they glide and bop, tease and illuminate, sadden and hearten as they navigate effortlessly from meta to fabulist, from flash fiction to longer, more complex narratives.

These are literary sketches of a Los Angeles that will surprise, connect, and disrupt readers wherever they may live.
 

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LatinAsian Cartographies

History, Writing, and the National Imaginary

Susan Thananopavarn

LatinAsian Cartographies examines how Latina/o and Asian American writers provide important counter-narratives to the stories of racial encroachment that have come to characterize twenty-first century dominant discourses on race. Susan Thananopavarn contends that the Asian American and Latina/o presence in the United States, although often considered marginal in discourses of American history and nationhood, is in fact crucial to understanding how national identity has been constructed historically and continues to be constructed in the present day. 

Thananopavarn creates a new “LatinAsian” view of the United States that emphasizes previously suppressed aspects of national history, including imperialism, domestic racism during World War II, Cold War operations in Latin America and Asia, and the politics of borders in an age of globalization. LatinAsian Cartographies ultimately reimagines national narratives in a way that transforms dominant ideas of what it means to be American.   
 

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Latinx Literature Unbound

Undoing Ethnic Expectation

Ralph E. Rodriguez

Since the 1990s, there has been unparalleled growth in the literary output from an ever more diverse group of Latina/o writers. The extant criticism, however, has yet to catch up with the diversity of writers we label Latina/o and the range of themes about which they write. Little sustained scholarly attention has been paid, moreover, to the very category—Latina/o—under which we group this literature. Latina/o Literature Unbound, thus, begins with a fundamental question “What does it mean to label a work of literature or an entire corpus of literature Latina/o?” From this question a host of others spin out: What does that grouping allow us to see, predispose us to see, and preclude us from seeing? If the grouping—which brings together a heterogeneous collection of people and groups under a seemingly homogeneous label—tells us something meaningful, is there a poetics we can develop that would facilitate our analysis of this literature? In answering these questions, Latina/o Literature Unbound seeks to unbind Latina/o literature from taken-for-granted critical assumptions about identity and theme. It argues that there may be more salubrious taxonomies than Latina/o for organizing and analyzing this literature. Following a neo-formalist interpretive model that privileges reading as a temporal, meaning-making event, the book argues that genre may be a more durable category for analyzing this literature. Finally, Latina/o Literature Unbound suggests some ways in which we might want to proceed as we move forward with future studies of the writing we have come to identify as Latina/o.

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The Literatures of the U.S.-Mexican War

Narrative, Time, and Identity

By Jaime Javier Rodríguez

The literary archive of the U.S.-Mexican War (1846–1848) opens to view the conflicts and relationships across one of the most contested borders in the Americas. Most studies of this literature focus on the war’s nineteenth-century moment of national expansion. In The Literatures of the U.S.-Mexican War, Jaime Javier Rodríguez brings the discussion forward to our own moment by charting a new path into the legacies of a military conflict embedded in the cultural cores of both nations. Rodríguez’s groundbreaking study moves beyond the terms of Manifest Destiny to ask a fundamental question: How do the war’s literary expressions shape contemporary tensions and exchanges among Anglo Americans, Mexicans, and Mexican Americans. By probing the war’s traumas, anxieties, and consequences with a fresh attention to narrative, Rodríguez shows us the relevance of the U.S.-Mexican War to our own era of demographic and cultural change. Reading across dime novels, frontline battle accounts, Mexican American writings and a wide range of other popular discourse about the war, Rodríguez reveals how historical awareness itself lies at the center of contemporary cultural fears of a Mexican “invasion,” and how the displacements caused by the war set key terms for the ways Mexican Americans in subsequent generations would come to understand their own identities. Further, this is also the first major comparative study that analyzes key Mexican war texts and their impact on Mexico’s national identity.

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Long Stories Cut Short

Fictions from the Borderlands

Frederick Luis Aldama; Foreword by Ana María Shua

Xbox videogamer cholo cyberpunks. Infants who read before they talk. Vatos locos, romancing abuelos, border crossers and border smugglers, drug kingpins, Latina motorbike riders, philosophically musing tweens, and so much more.



The stories in this dynamic bilingual prose-art collection touch on the universals of romance, family, migration and expulsion, and everyday life in all its zany configurations. Each glimpse into lives at every stage—from newborns and children to teens, young adults, and the elderly—further submerges readers in psychological ups and downs. In a world filled with racism, police brutality, poverty, and tensions between haves and have-nots, these flashes of fictional insight bring gleaming clarity to life lived where all sorts of borders meet and shift.



Frederick Luis Aldama and graphic artists from Mapache Studios give shape to ugly truths in the most honest way, creating new perceptions, thoughts, and feelings about life in the borderlands of the Américas. Each bilingual prose-art fictional snapshot offers an unsentimentally complex glimpse into what it means to exist at the margins of society today. These unflinching and often brutal fictions crisscross spiritual, emotional, and physical borders as they give voice to all those whom society chooses not to see.

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Mexico's Nobodies

The Cultural Legacy of the Soldadera and Afro-Mexican Women

B. Christine Arce

Analyzes cultural materials that grapple with gender and blackness to revise traditional interpretations of Mexicanness.

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Mexico's Ruins

Juan Garcia Ponce and the Writing of Modernity

At face value, the concept of modernity seems to reference a stream of social and historical traffic headed down a utopian one-way street named “progress.” Mexico’s Ruins examines modernity in twentieth-century Mexican culture as a much more ambiguous concept, arguing that such a single-minded notion is inadequate to comprehend the complexity of modern Mexico’s national projects and their reception by the nation’s citizenry. Instead, through the trope of modernity as ruin, author Raúl Rodríguez-Hernández explores the dilemma presented by the etymology of “ruins”: a simultaneous falling down and rising up, a confluence of opposing forces at work on the skyline of the metropolis since 1968. He focuses on artists and writers of the generación de medio siglo, like Juan García Ponce, and envisions both the tales of modernity and their storytellers in a new light. The arts, literature, and architecture of twentieth-century Mexico are all examined in this cross-cultural and interdisciplinary book.

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