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Conversion in Ethnic American Autobiography, 1965–2002
In The Trouble with Sauling Around, Madeline Walker probes the complex and troubled relationship between ethnicity, society, and religious conversion in late twentieth-century African American and Mexican American autobiography. Religious conversion—the turning away from an old, sinful life toward a new life of salvation—manifests as an intensely personal experience, yet it calls into play a wide variety of social, cultural, economic, racial, political, and psychological forces. Thus, constant change and the negotiation of resistance to and assimilation within the dominant culture have been seminal topics for ethnic Americans, just as the conversion narrative is often a central genre in ethnic writing, particularly autobiographical writing.
Explorations of Place and Belonging
In literary and cinematic fictions, the fantastic blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. Lacking a consensus on definition, critics often describe the fantastic as supernatural, or similar to, but quite different from fantasy, science fiction, and magical realism.
In Unraveling the Real Cynthia Duncan provides a new theoretical framework for discussing how the fantastic explores both metaphysical and socially relevant themes in Spanish American fictions. Duncan deftly shows how authors and artists have used this literary genre to convey marginalized voices as well as critique colonialism, racism, sexism, and classism. Selecting examples from the works of such noted writers as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, and Carlos Fuentes, among others, she shows how capacious the concept is, and why it eludes standard definition.
Challenging the notion that the fantastic is escapist in nature, Unraveling the Real shows how the fantastic has been politically engaged throughout the twentieth century, often questioning what is real or unreal. Presenting a mirror image of reality, the fantastic does not promoting a utopian parallel universe but rather challenges the way we think about the world around us and the cultural legacy of colonialism.
Why are so many people attracted to narrative fiction? How do authors in this genre reframe experiences, people, and environments anchored to the real world without duplicating “real life”? In which ways does fiction differ from reality? What might fictional narrative and reality have in common—if anything? By analyzing novels such as Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, Amitav Ghosh’s The Glass Palace, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, and Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist, along with selected Latino comic books and short fiction, this book explores the peculiarities of the production and reception of postcolonial and Latino borderland fiction. Frederick Luis Aldama uses tools from disciplines such as film studies and cognitive science that allow the reader to establish how a fictional narrative is built, how it functions, and how it defines the boundaries of concepts that appear susceptible to limitless interpretations. Aldama emphasizes how postcolonial and Latino borderland narrative fiction authors and artists use narrative devices to create their aesthetic blueprints in ways that loosely guide their readers’ imagination and emotion. In A User’s Guide to Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Fiction, he argues that the study of ethnic-identified narrative fiction must acknowledge its active engagement with world narrative fictional genres, storytelling modes, and techniques, as well as the way such fictions work to move their audiences.
Gender and Militarization in U.S. Latina/o Cultural Production
Transnational Mexican Popular Culture
An innovative application of four social types—the downtrodden Peladita/Peladito and the zoot-suited Pachuca/Pachuco—that illuminates working-class subjects in a broad spectrum of Mexican and Mexican American cultural production.
Reading Chicana Lesbians
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.
Stories, Interviews, and Critical Essays
The astonishing talent of Argentine women writers belies the struggles they have faced—not merely as overlooked authors, but as women of conviction facing oppression. The patriarchal pressures of the Perón years, the terror of the Dirty War, and, more recently, the economic collapse that gripped the nation in 2001 created such repressive conditions that some writers, such as Luisa Valenzuela, left the country for long periods. Not surprisingly, power has become an inescapable theme in Argentine women’s fiction, and this collection shows how the dynamics of power capture not only the political world but also the personal one. Whether their characters are politicians and peasants, torturers and victims, parents and children, or lovers male and female, each writer explores the effects of power as it is exercised by or against women. The fifteen writers chosen for Women and Power in Argentine Literature include famous names such as Valenzuela, as well as authors anthologized for the first time, most notably María Kodama, widow of Jorge Luis Borges. Each chapter begins with a “verbal portrait,” editor Gwendolyn Díaz’s personal impression of the author at ease, formed through hours of conversation and interviews. A biographical essay and critical commentary follow, with emphasis on the work included in this anthology. Díaz’s interviews, translated from Spanish, and finally the stories themselves—only three of which have been previously published in English—complete the chapters. The extraordinary depth of these chapters reflects the nuanced, often controversial portrayals of power observed by Argentine women writers. Inspiring as well as insightful, Women and Power in Argentine Literature is ultimately about women who, in Díaz’s words, “choose to speak their truth regardless of the consequences.”
In Wonder and Exile in the New World, Alex Nava explores the border regions in-between wonder and exile particularly in relation to the New World. It traces the preoccupation with the concept of wonder in the history of the Americas beginning with the first European encounters, and goes on to investigate later representations in the Baroque age, and ultimately into the twentieth century with the emergence of so-called magical realism. In telling the story of wonder in the New World, special attention is given to the part it played in the history of violence and exile, either as a force that supported and reinforced the conquest, or as a voice of resistance and decolonization. Focusing on the work of New World explorers, writers, and poets—and their literary descendants, Nava finds that wonder and exile have been two of the most significant metaphors within Latin American cultural, literary, and religious representations. Beginning with the period of the Conquest, especially with Cabeza de Vaca and Las Casas, and continuing through the Baroque with Cervantes and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and into the twentieth century with Alejo Carpentier and Miguel Ángel Asturias, Nava produces a historical study of Latin American narrative in which religious and theological perspectives figure prominently.
Essays on Literature, Race, and National Identity in Antillean America
Caribbean literature and culture have all too often been viewed in fragmented terms, without attention to the broader commonalities of the region. In this collection of essays written over many years, Roberto Márquez offers a more encompassing vision, one that respects the individual traditions of particular locales, languages, and cultures but also sees the larger themes that bind the area's literary heritage and history. Márquez begins by making the case for a genuinely Caribbean literary criticism, one that moves beyond the colonial history of fragmentation and isolation and the critical insularity of more conventional approaches. His pan-Caribbean perspective provides a point of departure for the scrutiny of the evolving dramas of race, nationality, nation-building, and cultural articulation in the region. Márquez then focuses specifically on Puerto Rico—its literary and socio—historical experience, the particularities of its "New Creole" incarnations, and the effects of waves of migration to the United States. In the final section of the book, he discusses writers and cultural figures from the other Spanish, Anglophone, and Francophone territories and the ways in which they engage or reflect the defining themes of literature, race, and national identity in Antillean America.