Resources for Special Knowledge: Latino Literature

I am thinking that “special knowledge” includes having read Latino/a literature and having a syllabus. So I am putting together a syllabus. We’ll see how quickly that takes shape. I know more poetry than anything else, but I would like to include poetry, short stories, novels, autobiographies, and biographies. (I know those are a little more questionable, but Beth Jones has a good one entitled “The Professor is a Drop Out” about Dr. Quintanilla of University of Houston.)

Las Culturas has a great list of resources.

These include an interesting collection of Quechua, English, and Spanish versions of poems from the Andes.

Emory has a good introduction to Magical Realism.

A syllabus for a course which “offers an overview of the history of Latino/a literature, introducing the major trends and placing them into an historical framework stretching from the nineteenth century to today. Emphasis will be on similarities and differences in the experiences in the United States among different Latino/a groups.” It’s an interesting grouping.

The modern primary texts are:

Sandra Cisneros. The House on Mango Street. (1984)
Gloria Anzaldúa. Borderlands/La Frontera. (1987)
Cristina Garcia. Dreaming in Cuban (1992)
Ana Menéndez. Loving Che. (2003)
Junot Diaz. Drown. (1996)
Yxta Maya Murray. Locas. (1998)
Tanya Maria Barrientos. Family Resemblance. (2003)
Ernesto Quiñonez. Bodega Dreams. (2000)

Another syllabus gave these works:

Zoot Suit, a play by Luis Valdez (based on a true story)
The Milagro Beanfield War, by John Nichols (based on a true story)
Caramelo, by Sandra Cisneros
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, by Julia Alvarez
Dirty Girls Social Club, by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
When I was Puerto Rican, by Esmeralda Santiago
When the Spirits Danced the Mambo, by Moreno Vega
Breath, Eyes, Memory, by Edwidge Danticat
The Devil’s Highway, by Luis Alberto Urrea
Tortilla Curtain, by T. Coraghessan Boyle

Still another syllabus offers these texts:

–In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Álvarez.
–Latin Deli by Judith Ortiz Cofer
–…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him by Tomás Rivera.
–Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina García.
–The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.

mexican-saint-at-churchThis syllabus has an interesting goal: “Our goal is to use literary and cultural theory to understand the paradox inherent in US Latina/o culture; that is while Latina/o culture is increasingly diverse in terms of its contributors, the culture also reveals similar experiences within itself and in comparison to Anglo-American life.”

I think that would be odd to work within. So, in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents there are sisters, conservative parents, an oldest sister who analyzes everyone… All those things could be true of anyone.

I’m not too thrilled with the language in the syllabus either. Latino and Anglo-American. I would like us all to be equal, so I guess, if we have to use hyphenated words, let’s go with Hispanic-American and Anglo-American.

The works for this course are:

Latino Boom: An Anthology of US Latino Literature. John Christie and Jose Gonzalez, eds.
…y no se lo tragó la tierra by Tomás Rivera (Spanish / English edition)
Drown by Junot Díaz

Despite the fact that the syllabus says they will be working with music and other forms, there are none on the list or the syllabus.

Ah, I found another syllabus with an interesting list.

Gutiérrez, The Columbian History of Latinos in the United States Since 1960 (2004)
Garrod, Kilkenny and Gómez, eds., Mi Voz, Mi Vida: Latino College Students Tell Their Life Stories (2007)
Christie and González, Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature (2005 or latest)

I think I would like Mi Voz, Mi Vida: Latino College Students Tell Their Life Stories. It would fit with the autobiography part I’d like to have.

Her list of readings (one of these) is:

Junot Díaz, The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao / La breve y maravillosa vida de Óscar Wao (Vintage)
Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street / La casa en Mango Street (Vintage)
Cristina García, Dreaming in Cuban / Soñar en cubano (Ballantine)
Julia Alvarez, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents / De cómo las muchachas García perdieron el acento (Vintage)
Sandra Benítez, A Place Where the Sea Remembers / Allí donde el mar recuerda
Francisco Goldman, The Long Night of White Chickens / La larga noche de los pollos blancos

I found a different syllabus with an interesting set of secondary texts, for interest.

Acuña, Rudolfo: Occupied America: A History of Chicanos
Aranda Jr., Jose: When We Arrive: A New Literary History of Mexican America Extinct Lands,
Brady, Mary Pat: Temporal Geographies: Chicana Literature and the Urgency of Space
Paredes, Américo: Folklore and Culture on the Texas Mexican Border (This sounds interesting to me, but is not available new. If I end up teaching the course, I will definitely purchase it.)
Paz, Octavio: The Labyrinth of Solitude
Saldívar, Ramón: Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference
Torres, Eden: Chicana Without Apology

It’s obviously an upper division course, but I like a lot about the syllabus. I might be able to adopt the approach, though I would amend it slightly.

Latinoteca has a well developed list of suggested readings for a survey course.

In the section on Latina literature I found this list:

La hija la de la fortuna Isabel Allende
Borderlands / La Frontera Gloria Anzaldúa
La Migra me hizo los mandados Alicia Alarcón
Fronterizas Roberta Fernández
Dreaming in Cuban Cristina García
Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders Alicia Gaspar de Alba
The Day of the Moon Graciela Limón
Real Women Have Curves Josefina López
Silent Dancing Judith Ortiz Cofer
Methodology of the Oppressed Chela Sandoval

Also in that section are articles that look interesting. A few are:

Beverly, John. “The Margin at the Center on Testimonio (Testimonial Narrative).” Smith and Watson 91-114.
Benamou, Catherine. “Those Earrings, That Accent, That Hair: A Dialogue with Maria Hinojosa on Latinos/as and the Media.” Ella Shohat, ed. Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age. New York: MIT Press, 1998. 325-356.
Braendlin, Bonnie Hoover. “Bildung in Ethnic Women Writers.” Denver Quarterly 17.4 (Winter 1983): 75-87.
Bruce-Novoa, Juan. Retrospace. Houston: Arte Público Press.
Candelaria, Cordelia. “Code-Switching as Metaphor in Chicano Poetry.” European Perspectives on Hispanic Literature of the United States. Houston: Arte Público Press, 1988. 91-97.
—. “The ‘Wild Zone’ Thesis as Gloss in Chicana Literary Study.” Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism 248-256.

I am particularly interested in the Johnson article, but there is no listing of Smith and Johnson.

You insult me
When you say I’m
My divisions are
Bernice Zamora, “So Not To Be Mottled”

One thought on “Resources for Special Knowledge: Latino Literature”

  1. Thanks for your reviews. It is awesome to see more courses in Latina/o literature. I am always revising my courses and it is very helpful to see other approaches.

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