[This is my attempt at creating a Latino/a studies (well, so far mostly literature) course. Do let me know what you think. If you have any ideas for films that could be included, please say! Thanks!]
While Chicano/as and Latino/as have been integral to U.S. history and culture, why have they are frequently and consistently been depicted as either outsiders or foreign and how is Chicana/o and Latina/o identity negotiated? In this course we will examine Latino/a and Chicano/a cultural production and its relationship to both larger U.S. culture and other U.S. racial and ethnic groups. We will also question the development and / or existence of Latinidad — the relationship between and common culture among Latino/as in U.S. culture and how it manifests itself through cultural expressions such as literature, music, films and social media. Our readings focus on writers from various Latino/a groups.
Through readings, screenings and other multimedia sources, our goal is to use recent literary and cultural theory to understand the paradox inherent in U.S. Chicana/o and Latina/o culture. Our topics will include: migration, language, the body, gender roles, sexual orientation and identity politics in the works of authors and artists. The requirements for this class include the creation of a public blog as a course project, adding to the discussion of Latina/o literature as part of the recent project AztlanReads.com.
- Michelle Habell-Pallan and Mary Romero Latino/a Popular Culture (ed.)
- Julia Alvarez, In the Name of Salomé
- Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima
- Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera
- Black Artemis, Picture Me Rollin’
- Angie Cruz, Soledad
- Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
- Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban
- Ana Menéndez, Loving Che
- Ernesto Quiñonez, Bodega Dreams
- Piri Thomas, Down These Mean Streets
- Esmeralda Santiago, When I was Puerto Rican
- Helena Maria Viramontes, Their Dogs Came With Them
Schedule of Readings
Week 1 Defining Chicano/a and Latino/a
“Historical Contexts of Latino/a Presence in United States” Juan González “The Latino Imaginary: Dimensions of community and identity” Juan Flores
Week 2 Chicano Landscapes
Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima
Héctor Calderón,”Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima: A Chicano Romance of the Southwest.”… Read the rest
[Note, this blog title was shamelessly stolen from a tweet by @laura_luna who has her own blog, creativexicana. I only steal from the best.]
Over on Twitter Chicano MA student @xicano007, who has a library anyone would envy, started posting images of his Chicana/o books along with titles and authors. Ever the busybody I suggested he start a hashtag so we could search them more easily and maybe join in. The result was #aztlanreads and it’s glorious with an explosion of tweets of Chicana/o and Latina/o books (poetry, novels, academic writing and histories). If you read Twitter, participate. If you don’t, follow the link and look anyway. Seriously, I promise it will make your day.
There have been so many books I remembered and even more that I hadn’t heard about. I seriously have to find a job so I can afford the book habit this hashtag is creating. I hope it lasts forever. It’s the best use of Twitter I’ve ever seen.
There’s more about #aztlanreads’ wonderfulness over on the excellent blog Lotería Chicana. She points out the power that the shear volume and quality of the Chicana/o texts listed have in combating the notion that there’s a shortage of books and materials out there.
Rumor has it that there’ll be hashtags for #aztlansongs and #aztlanfilm next. I can’t wait.
UPDATE: Aztlán Reads is now a blog! … Read the rest
Today I’ve started the novel The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea. I’m thinking of using it for a class I’m planning (planning in a sense of writing a syllabus, rather than actually having been engaged to teach) on the Chicana/o Gothic. At 499 pages, it seems a bit long, but is actually a fast read. While it code-switches between English and Spanish, the Spanish is understandable by context.
The book is a novel telling the story of the Mexican saint, Santa Teresita Urrea. So far I’ve read the first five chapters. It captures a diverse sense of Mexico as a space not just of Spanish and Mexican, but of indigenous. The novel is in the magical real tradition, yet magic and spirituality are also questioned throughout. As Teresita becomes more spiritual, more of a saint, it causes friction within her family, especially for her father who is not religious / full of doubt. This doubt / balance is one of the things I like best about the text. That aside, it’s a beautiful book. If you’re looking for some rich summer reading I highly recommend The Hummingbird’s Daughter.… Read the rest