ENGL 362 A w/ C LIT 321 B
Professor Monika Kaup
U.S. Latino/a/x Literature: Ethnic to Trans-American Imaginaries
The rich expression of the fastest-growing minority in the U.S., Latino/a/x literature has been experiencing a renaissance in the past decades that has given us two Latino Pulitzers (most recently, Junot Díaz) and that shows no signs of diminishing. This course examines selected contemporary and historical works by U.S. Latino/a authors. Latinidad is an umbrella term that refers to U.S.-based writers who share a common Latin American descent without necessarily sharing the same national background (or race). This course is organized around the following topics:
- Latinas/os (and their literature) are the byproduct of the age of empire and manifest destiny. “Native” Latino writing (Paredes) illuminates the experience of “growing up a foreigner in one’s native land”: “the border crossed us.”
- Linking the U.S. to Latin America, Latinos remind us that America is also the name of the continent where the U.S. is located: the Americas. Some Latino/a literature expresses a cosmopolitan trans-american imaginary (Anaya, Pineda).
- The setting of many (not all) Latino/a/x novels (Anaya, Paredes) is the U.S. -Mexico borderlands, an area extending north and south of the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Latino/a/x literature is not One. It is forged at the crossroads of (at least) three distinct traditions: Anglophone American literature, Latin American literature, and American ethnic literature. For this reason, Latino/a/x literature is hybrid rather than homogeneous.
- Latino/a/x literature is multinational and multiracial: there are Latinos/as of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Peruvian, Guatemalan descent, and so on.
- New literary forms have been forged at this Anglo-Latin intersection: magical realism, now one of the major expressions of the postcolonial world (Anaya), and the dramatic tradition of teatro campesino (Valdéz).
- Latino/a/x literature is multilingual, written in both English and Spanish. Because this is an ENGL class (w/a small C LIT section), the majority of our readings are in English. However, we will also read some Spanish-language texts in translation (González; Rafael Sánchez).
- One fascinating form of multilingualism is experimental “Spanglish” American literature (especially frequent in Nuyorican writers such as Tato Laviera).
- Many (if not all) Latinos/as belong to a mixed-race culture at the intersection of European, indigenous, and African elements (mestizaje) (Anaya).
- The Chicano and Puerto Rican civil rights movements generated powerful activist poetry (Piedro Pietri; Rodolfo “Corky” González).
- Cuban American literature emerges out of a century-old tradition of expatriation and exile and a nostalgic longing for return that fades in the second generation (Obejas, Menéndez).
Américo Paredes, George Washington Gómez (1930s; 1990) Arte Publico Press
Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima (1972) Warner Bks
Cecile Pineda, Face (1985) Wings Press
. . . . and a course reader with poetry, fiction, and plays by Tato Laviera, Ana Lydia Vega, Pedro Pietri, Rudolfo “Corky” González, Luis Valdéz, Junot Díaz, Sandra Cisneros, Gloria Anzaldúa, Rosario Ferré, Achy Objeas, Ana Menéndez, and others.