Chicana/o Gothic – HASTAC 2016 – Researching with Students

(These notes form the rough basis for a panel talk with Anne Cong-Huyen and Anne Choi at HASTAC 2016.)

The idea that became a class that became a research project

The process began in fall 2011 when I began discussing on my personal blog and on Twitter whether or not “the gothic” would be a fruitful lens for examining Chicana/o literature, especially in the reading of classic works like Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima and lesser known ones such as Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s Calligraphy of the Witch. In building the idea of the course and imagining its syllabus, I received input from Chicana scholars and writers both online and in person. Loyola Marymount University’s department of Chicana/o Studies gave me the opportunity to teach this course in Spring 2014 as a Chicana/o literature course, cross listed with the English department. The class was made up of 32 students, mostly seniors, with a number of Chicana/o studies majors and minors as well as a significant number of English majors.

Idea – wondering about the existence of a Chicanx gothic as a way to read / understand Chicanx literature.
Class – defining and exploration of the Chicanx gothic
Archive – create a site where students could create and link to digital object / writings exploring an aspect of the Chicana/o gothic

Site: (used WordPress, Weaver theme, on personal domain)

As of Spring 2014, when this course was offered, while there was sizable exploration of the American gothic, even and including in connection with African American literature, there was only a single article and dissertation on the subject, both by Tanya Gonzalez.

Even now, when one Google’s Chicano Gothic (in various variations), my students’ work for the class forms the bulk of the first page results.

Offering this class and having us create an archive site is in keeping with both Chicana/o studies pedagogy, one which fosters student contributions to research, and helps counter the lack of significant Chicana/o studies content on the Internet. Students engaged in public research and writing, with our discussion our reading and research among ourselves in the classroom, on Twitter and through posts and comments on the class site.

Why is this important? It’s important for several reasons, on several levels. U.S. literary critic Leslie Fiedler wrote of American gothic literature that “it is the gothic form that has been most fruitful in the hands of our best writers,” yet since little has been written about Chicana/o literature as gothic, Chicana/o literature is not part of this discourse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *