Narratives of Greater Mexico: Essays on Chicano Literary History, Genre, and Borders

Narratives of Greater Mexico: Essays on Chicano Literary History, Genre, and Borders

Narratives of Greater Mexico: Essays on Chicano Literary History, Genre, and Borders

Narratives of Greater Mexico: Essays on Chicano Literary History, Genre, and Borders

Synopsis

Once relegated to the borders of literature-neither Mexican nor truly American-Chicana/o writers have always been in the vanguard of change, articulating the multicultural ethnicities, shifting identities, border realities, and even postmodern anxieties and hostilities that already characterize the twenty-first century. Indeed, it is Chicana/o writers' very in-between-ness that makes them authentic spokespersons for an America that is becoming increasingly Mexican/Latin American and for a Mexico that is ever more Americanized.

In this pioneering study, Héctor Calderón looks at seven Chicana and Chicano writers whose narratives constitute what he terms an American Mexican literature. Drawing on the concept of "Greater Mexican" culture first articulated by Américo Paredes, Calderón explores how the works of Paredes, Rudolfo Anaya, Tomás Rivera, Oscar Zeta Acosta, Cherrée Moraga, Rolando Hinojosa, and Sandra Cisneros derive from Mexican literary traditions and genres that reach all the way back to the colonial era. His readings cover a wide span of time (1892-2001), from the invention of the Spanish Southwest in the nineteenth century to the América Mexicana that is currently emerging on both sides of the border. In addition to his own readings of the works, Calderón also includes the writers' perspectives on their place in American/Mexican literature through excerpts from their personal papers and interviews, correspondence, and e-mail exchanges he conducted with most of them.

Excerpt

It was a dark and stormy night in New Haven, Connecticut, when I informed Ramón Saldívar in Austin, Texas, that I was thinking of writing a book on Chicano literature. “Great,” he said. Little did I know what a difficult task that would be. The world has changed since that phone conversation of long ago. We no longer inhabit the twentieth century and the field of Chicana and Chicano literary studies is no longer an endeavor relegated solely to regional or marginal status. This literature and its criticism are in many ways links between dissimilar cultural traditions on both sides of the international divide. Scholars in comparative American (in the broadest sense of the term) literary and cultural studies are now following the lead of their Chicana and Chicano colleagues in seeing the necessity of linking American ethnic, American, and Latin American literatures. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we are aware of our basic nepantilismo, that in-between state where cultures converge. Because of rapidly changing demographics, market penetration, an international media based largely in the United States, and the Internet, we will see more interaction in cultural and artistic spheres across the borders of the Américas.

My project is less ambitious than some of the recent studies of the literatures of the Américas; mine is more local and historical. This is a study of major Mexican American narrative forms from 1958 through 2001 through the works of Américo Paredes, Rudolfo A. Anaya, Tomás Rivera, Oscar Zeta Acosta, Cherríe L. Moraga, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, and Sandra Cisneros. I present this book knowing full well that I am crossing academic borders. Early on in the history of the field, the . . .

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