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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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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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Minima Cuba

Heretical Poetics and Power in Post-Soviet Cuba

Marta Hernández Salván

Explores the ideological and emotional trauma created after the withering of the socialist utopia in Cuba.

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Mulattas and Mestizas

Representing Mixed Identities in the Americas, 1850-2000

Suzanne Bost

In this broadly conceived exploration of how people represent identity in the Americas, Suzanne Bost argues that mixture has been central to the definition of race in the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean since the nineteenth century. Her study is particularly relevant in an era that promotes mixed-race musicians, actors, sports heroes, and supermodels as icons of a "new" America. Bost challenges the popular media's notion that a new millennium has ushered in a radical transformation of American ethnicity; in fact, this paradigm of the "changing" face of America extends throughout American history.

Working from literary and historical accounts of mulattas, mestizas, and creoles, Bost analyzes a tradition, dating from the nineteenth century, of theorizing identity in terms of racial and sexual mixture. By examining racial politics in Mexico and the United States; racially mixed female characters in Anglo-American, African American, and Latina narratives; and ideas of mixture in the Caribbean, she ultimately reveals how the fascination with mixture often corresponds to racial segregation, sciences of purity, and white supremacy. The racism at the foundation of many nineteenth-century writings encourages Bost to examine more closely the subtexts of contemporary writings on the "browning" of America.

Original and ambitious in scope, Mulattas and Mestizas measures contemporary representations of mixed-race identity in the United States against the history of mixed-race identity in the Americas. It warns us to be cautious of the current, millennial celebration of mixture in popular culture and identity studies, which may, contrary to all appearances, mask persistent racism and nostalgia for purity.

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¡Muy Pop!

Conversations on Latino Popular Culture

Ilan Stavans and Frederick Luis Aldama

Although investigations of Hispanic popular culture were approached for decades as part of folklore studies, in recent years scholarly explorations—of lucha libre, telenovelas, comic strips, comedy, baseball, the novela rosa and the detective novel, sci-fi, even advertising—have multiplied. What has been lacking is an overarching canvas that offers context for these studies, focusing on the crucial, framing questions: What is Hispanic pop culture? How does it change over time and from region to region? What is the relationship between highbrow and popular culture in the Hispanic world? Does it make sense to approach the whole Hispanic world as homogenized when understanding Hispanic popular culture? What are the differences between nations, classes, ethnic groups, religious communities, and so on? And what distinguishes Hispanic popular culture in the United States? In ¡Muy Pop!, Ilan Stavans and Frederick Luis Aldama carry on a sustained, free-flowing, book-length conversation about these questions and more, concentrating on a wide range of pop manifestations and analyzing them at length. In addition to making Hispanic popular culture visible to the first-time reader, ¡Muy Pop! sheds new light on the making and consuming of Hispanic pop culture for academics, specialists, and mainstream critics.

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