Academic journal article Chasqui

Canero, Julio, and Juan F. Elices, Eds.: The Chican@ Literary Imagination: A Collection of Critical Studies by Francisco A. Lomeli

Academic journal article Chasqui

Canero, Julio, and Juan F. Elices, Eds.: The Chican@ Literary Imagination: A Collection of Critical Studies by Francisco A. Lomeli

Article excerpt

Canero, Julio, and Juan F. Elices, eds. The Chican@ Literary Imagination: A Collection of Critical Studies by Francisco A. Lomeli. Alcala de Henares: Universidad de Alacala, 2012 331 pp. ISBN: 978-84-8138-699-8.

Saborio, Linda. Embodying Difference: Scripting Social Images of the Female Body in Latina Theater. Lanham: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2012. 157 pp. ISBN: 978-1-61147-468-8.

Silva Rodriguez, Graciela, and Manuel de Jesus Hemandez-G, eds. Chicanos y Mexicanos Nortenos: Bi-Borderlands Dialogues on Literary and Cultural Production. Mexico, D.F.: Ediciones y Graficos Eon, 2012. 471 pp. ISBN: 978-607-9124-74-8.

In this age of border walls, neo-racism, and immigration reform, we often look to the powers that be to address the issues that affect our communities and to provide solutions. We forget that the seeds of change begin with honest and open conversations amongst ourselves. As scholars and students we can become too comfortable within the safe confines of our own thoughts and recognizable environs. We talk about border crossings and inter-disciplinarity, but fear making the first step toward the unknown. The pursuit of knowledge yields its greatest rewards when we leave our comfort zones. That is what these three books, each in its own way, encourage us to do: to foster conversations across disciplines, borders, and even continents by stepping into the unknown.

The Chican@Literary Imagination: A Collection of Critical Studies by Francisco A. Lomeli is divided into three sections that organize the themes of his work, focusing on the historical origins and background of Chicano/a literature and criticism, in-depth analyses of specific Chicano/a authors, and an interview with Lomeli by the editors. Francisco Lomeli is one of the foremost scholars of Chicano/a literature. His work spans a multitude of themes, from as specific and regional as the development of a Nuevo Mexicano literary corpus to a broader vision of Chicano/a literature as part of a planetary republic of letters that coexists and interacts with other countries and cultures. The essays are full of information that would be helpful for any reader interested in learning more about Chicano/a literature, particularly its deep historical roots as part of the "American" cultural heritage. But as Lomeli astutely points out, Chicano/a literature, although American, is also Mexican and Spanish. In fact, the book came about through a flourishing interest in Chicano/a literature at a bi-annual conference held in Spain. This cross-continental dialogue is what inspired the Spanish editors of this book to publish it with Instituto Franklin at the University of Alcala.

It is of interest that a book on Chicano scholarship was published in Spain considering that one of the main themes in Lomeli's essays is the Nuevo Mexicano development, flourishment, and later renaissance of their own literary production. New Mexico was one of the last North American frontiers to be "conquered" and colonized by Spain. As Lomeli points out, due to its physical and political isolation, rugged landscape, stubborn determination of its people, and pride in their Spanish/Mexican cultural heritage, New Mexico was able to resist U.S. cultural assimilation to a greater degree than other regions and maintain its languages and cultural practices for a longer period of time, which is still the case with many of its inhabitants. As he states, "The sheer volume of cronicas, memorias, relaciones, diarios, historias, and many other trans-generic writings gives evidence of an obsession with documentation [... ] for the sake of accountability, and, in some cases, for self-aggrandizement, but fortunately so, for posterity's sake" (70-71). He provides detailed lists of obras literarias, their authors, and their contribution to New Mexico's historical and literary identity. He names important ones, such as Gaspar Perez de Villagra, Eusebio Chacon, Fray Angelico Chavez, Rudolfo Anaya, but also provides details on many other lesser-known writers who were also instrumental in creating a Nuevo Mexicano literary corpus. …

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