These essays represent a decade and a half of writing on Chicano literature. My intention was to select, from over seventy published articles, those that treated theory and/or the historical aspects of the literature. Two rather personal essays frame the collection. The first, though I didn't realize it at the time, declared my position on the Chicano Movement's cultural production. To a great extent, I remain faithful to that original statement, both in its perspective and the implied goal of opening our cultural production to the representation of segments of the Chicano community that, for whatever reasons, are excluded or ignored. The last essay was written in response to an invitation to speak about Chicano criticism from the perspective of a participant in the creation of the field. It forced me to reconsider my years of activity in Chicano studies, as well as how and why I became involved. In a way, the two essays mark a cycle that moves from spontaneous intervention in. an almost non-existent field, to highly self-conscious participation in a now established amd flourishing one. In between fall essays of a more academic tone.
The essays' main purpose is the exposition of my way of conceptualizing Chicano literature, which differentiates them from those that address specific works or genres, which I reserve for a future volume. Most of the essays appear with only minor editorial changes: "Freedom of Expression and the Chicano Movement," "Chicanos in Mexican Literature," "Hispanic Literature in the United States," "Pluralism Versus Nationalism: U.S. Literature," "Chicano Literary Production: 1960-1980," "Chicanos in Mexican Literature," "Canonical and Noncanonical Texts," and "The Topological Space of Chicano Literature." For "The Space of Chicano Literature," perhaps the most influential article in the collection, I have included a previously unpublished, expanded version. Three essays appear for the first time here: "Chicano Literary Space: Cultural Criticism/Cultural Production," "SpanishLanguage Loyalty and Literature," and "Surviving Our Decade." Two essays, "A Case of Identity, What's in Name: Chicanos and Riquefios," and "Charting the Space of Chicano Literature" are translated for the first time. Many of these texts are difficult to find in the original publications, having been published in ephemeral or foreign journals. This volume makes them available again.
Grouping the articles together, moreover, creates a new context, arising from their intertextual relationship. As unified, instead of loose texts dispersed among other authors' work, the reading assumes a different meaning and value. The book becomes the image of the theory by making material and concrete the implied space in which these essays . . .