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  • Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage, Volume VIII ed. by Gabriela Baeza Ventura, Clara Lomas
  • Victor Domínguez Baeza
Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage, Volume VIII. Edited by Gabriela Baeza Ventura and Clara Lomas. (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2012. Pp. 232. Notes, bibliographies. ISBN 9781558856042, $27.95 cloth.)

The Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project has been going on since the 1990s, and Volume VIII continues the important work of the first seven volumes produced by the project. Editors Gabriela Baeza Ventura and Clara Lomas organize twelve essays into four parts.

Part I, “Contesting the Canon,” explores different ways of looking at writings of two seminal Hispanic authors: María Cristina Mena and María Amparo Ruiz de Burton. In “Discourse Production and the Expression of Gender Roles in the Writing of María Cristina Mena,” Donna Kabalen de Bichara assesses works of Mena from a feminine perspective, “particularly male-female power relations” (4). In “Heroic Boys and Good Neighbors: Cold War Discourse and the Symbolism of Chapultepec in María Cristina Mena’s Boy Heroes of Chapultepec,” Belinda Linn Rincón focuses on how Mena’s youth fiction often challenged “denigrating stereotypes of Mexicans” (2). Beth Hernández-Jason’s essay, “Squatting in Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Intertextual References and Literary Tactics of Nineteenth-Century U.S. Women Writers,” investigates the success of Burton’s novels compared to contemporaries.

Part II, “Mapping Latino Voices in the United States,” looks at how newspapers and textbooks provided a voice for and a record of the Latina/o opinions and ideas during various periods. In “España Libre: peridico de exilio español en Nueva York,” Montse Feu examines how the New York newspaper provided a forum for very divergent populaces, yet fostered cooperation among Spanish exiles. Patricia A. Bonn explains in “No Hay Justicia! The Execution of Simplicio Torres” how the Arizona newspaper Justicia chronicled the trial and execution of Torres, including the “prejudice, politics, and Progressivism” (79) it entailed. “Recovering Spanish-Language Education in Alta California: Ecologies, Ideologies and Intertextualities,” by Robert W. Train, weighs school texts from the mid-1800s in pre-U.S. California and their relation to current language education.

Part III, “Postcoloniality in Autobiography,” looks at postcolonial life as described in autobiographies and portrayed in novels. “Autobiographical Politics in the Contact Zone: Miguel Antonio Otero’s My Life on the Frontier,” by Erin Murrah-Mandril, examines how Otero attempted to redefine the popular literary [End Page 109] image of the West as a “realm of undefined savagery before the 1848 U.S. conquest” (124). Norma Mouton discusses in “The Autobiography of Conversion of Rev. Santiago Tafolla, Sr., Runaway, Soldier and Methodist Minister: a Postcolonial Bildungsroma,” how Tafolla’s work is both an autobiography of conversion and an “Eurocentric bourgeois literary narrative” (139). In “De la experiencia a la enseñanza: Contrastes estructurales y didcticos en El sol de Texas y Mucho!,” Laura Garza investigates assimilation within early Hispanic novels and the portrayal of women.

Part IV, “Nationalism in Contact Zones,” looks at various examples of constructing identification and patriotism. In “The Mexican-American Novel of the Revolution: Reading the Immigrant Nationalism of Leonor Villegas de Magnón’s The Rebel,” Yolanda Padilla delves into immigrant nationalism among Mexicans. In her essay “The Return of José Castro: The Baja California Correspondence of Alta California’s Last Commander General,” Julianne Burton-Carvajal looks at the significance of the Castro letters to the move from Mexican to American California. Finally, Cecilia Marrugo, in “La figura del sacrificio como expresión nacionalista en las obras Hatuey y La muerte de Plácido,” analyzes how two Cuban exiles endeavor to develop patriotism and unity with nostalgic portrayals of Cuba.

Volume VIII in this series is another valuable contribution to the ongoing heritage project. It provides new and interesting investigations, interpretations, and works on early Hispanic literature. Each essay in this volume provides impetus to search for, read, and further research Hispanic works. This volume will prove to be a useful resource and is recommended for any scholar of Hispanic literary history.

Victor Domínguez Baeza
Oklahoma State University


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