Expanding the Literary Canon: Hispanic Literature Is Growing in Popularity, and Scholars Would like to See It Better Incorporated into High School, College Curriculums

By Horwedel, Dina | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, March 22, 2007 | Go to article overview

Expanding the Literary Canon: Hispanic Literature Is Growing in Popularity, and Scholars Would like to See It Better Incorporated into High School, College Curriculums


Horwedel, Dina, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


For most college students, literature courses began in high school and consisted almost entirely of the classics of America and Western Europe. But English professor Norma E. Cantu says the emergence of Hispanic literature and its growing popularity on college campuses around the country--and the world--is proof that American literature is expanding and making room for the diverse cultures that make up this country.

"American literature has been growing since the beginning," says Cantu, who teaches at the University of Texas at San Antonio "[Herman] Melville and others entered the canon where traditionally there were only British writers. Then the canon expanded to include African-American writers and more."

Although Hispanic literature isn't new, it has generally been left out of world literature courses, says Cantu. "Since the 1930s, there were writers being published, not by New York presses but by smaller presses," she says.

Dr. Louis Mendoza, chair of the Chicano studies department at the University of Minnesota, says high schools and universities have a role to play in exposing students to diverse types of literature.

"We want kids who are better writers, who are able to express themselves, and when they enter college, it shouldn't be the first time they have been exposed to this," he says. "I was 25 the first time I was exposed to Hispanic literature. It changed my life and became my life's calling. And that was very sad that it happened so late."

Cantu says American literature has evolved and will continue to evolve as writers from different ethnic groups emerge on the literary scene. But she would like to see this shift, for example, reflected on the GRE's English exam.

"There are some African-American writers represented there, but no Chicanos," she says. "It's a continuous struggle to expand that canon and get equal time and equal space."

A Long Time Coming

Cantu says the civil rights movement helped bring new styles of literature into the mainstream, pointing to the current popularity of East Indian, Iranian and Vietnamese writers as examples. But, she says, it was Black and Hispanic writers who opened the door for the others.

Mendoza agrees, adding that both groups used literature during the civil rights movement, "as a cultural weapon and as a source of affirmation and cultural celebration."

The next big leap came with the multicultural movement of the 1980s and '90s, which prompted colleges and universities to begin recognizing the gaps in their curriculums.

In his 2003 nonfiction book, Crossing Into America, Mendoza examines the political event that he says set the stage for the multicultural movement and other social changes. In 1965, the U.S. Congress voted to repeal the immigration restrictions of the 1924 National Origins Act. The federal law had long discriminated against people from Latin America and Asia, giving immigration preference to well-educated and well-funded Europeans. The repeal of the quotas meant Latin Americans and Asians were free to enter the United States in large numbers for the first time.

"The coming of those peoples created a layer base of people to produce that body of literature," Mendoza says.

Within the growing body of Hispanic literature is also older work by Hispanic writers, which must be recovered, Mendoza says. He specifically praises the work of Arte Publico Press, which has been working to restore the literary history of American Hispanics. Scholars across the country have been helping the Press with the "Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project," uncovering the writings of Hispanic and Latino explorers, settlers and writers since the 1500s.

In 2002, the Press published En Otra Voz: Antologia de Literatura Espana de Los Estados Unidos (Herencia: The Anthology of Hispanic Literature in the United States, the English-language version, was published by Oxford University Press), the first comprehensive collection of Spanish-language literature from U. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Expanding the Literary Canon: Hispanic Literature Is Growing in Popularity, and Scholars Would like to See It Better Incorporated into High School, College Curriculums
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.