Summary and Keywords
Latina/o literature can be understood both in terms of its historical emergence and development as well as its engagement with and representation of history. The formation of a canon called Latina/o literature is a contemporary phenomenon. Institutions that have published, disseminated, and shaped this literature into a discernible entity emerged in the 1970s as extensions of political activist movements. In the 1990s, the establishment of the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project also made possible the recuperation and publication of literature written before the 1960s. Studies of Latina/o literature now explore texts dating back to the 16th century, include 19th-century exile and dissident writing, and trace the evolution of Latina/o literature through the 20th and 21st centuries. While most writing and scholarship has been produced about Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cuban Americans, literature by Dominican Americans, U.S. Central Americans, and U.S. South Americans is increasingly gaining visibility. Since the mid-20th century, most Latina/o literature has been written in English, though many writers incorporate Spanish or Spanglish. This tradition now spans a wide range of themes, experiences, and genres.
Latina/o literature can be understood both in terms of its historical emergence and development as well as its engagement with and representation of history. The formation of a canon called Latina/o literature is a contemporary phenomenon. Institutions that have published, disseminated, and shaped this literature into a discernable entity emerged in the 1970s. Francisco Lomelí’s comments about Chicana/o literature are applicable to Latina/o literature more broadly: “Writings had appeared on a steady and consistent basis since the colonial period, but the dearth of mechanisms to catalogue and document them prevented or delayed the inevitable organization, and validation of this literature.”1 The legacy of 1960s and 1970s political activism led to institutions like Arté Público Press and Bilingual Review Press, which published Latina/o literature before mainstream presses found it profitable to do so in the 1980s and 1990s. In the 1990s, the establishment of the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project by scholars across the country also made possible the recuperation and publication of literature from “colonial times until 1960.”2 As a result, Latina/o literature now encompasses literature produced even before the adoption of labels like “Latino” or “Hispanic.”3 A large portion of this literature also represents previous historical epochs to tell stories that have been marginalized, forgotten, or censored.
What and who gets included under the category of Latina/o literature can vary. Latina/o is a heterogeneous category that does not capture differences in national origin, time or circumstances of migration, citizenship status, race, class, sexuality, political orientation, or regional location. Regardless of country of birth, a writer could be classified under the category of Latina/o literature if the writer has some substantive connection to both Latin America and the United States. Marta Caminero-Santangelo observes that “the preponderance of scholars today agree that, to the extent that ‘latininidad’ exists, it is largely a product of being in the United States and of commonalities forged within that context.”4 Because Latin America is so close to the United States, much of Latina/o literature reflects the transnational literary influences, experiences, and interests of its writers. In terms of its historical scope, Nicolás Kanellos, one of the most influential publishers and scholars of Latina/o literature, argues that the tradition’s roots date back to the 16th century with the introduction of the Spanish language through colonization. Until the mid-20th century, writing by Latina/os tended to be produced in Spanish. Now Latina/o literature is predominantly written in English, though many writers incorporate Spanish, or Spanglish. Kanellos also argues that in the 19th century, Latina/o literature assumed the characteristics it has come to have today in reflecting the experiences of “natives, immigrants, and exiles.”5
Conquests, Colonizations, and Independence Movements
To understand the formation of Latina/o literature, it is important to understand that Spanish colonization forever changed the cultural, linguistic, and political landscape of the Americas.6 While conquistadors like Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro are known for conquering the two largest indigenous empires, the Aztecs and Incas, respectively, lesser known explorers, soldiers, and missionaries documented the process of Spanish colonization.7 These writings reveal how the Spanish made sense of the “New World,” and how they viewed and treated indigenous peoples; they provide insight into the colonial power dynamics that would have a lasting effect in the Western Hemisphere. The most common genre for this writing was the relación, which translates as “account” or “chronicle.” The relación of Spanish missionary, Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (1522, The Destruction of the Indies: A Brief Account) offers a historical overview of the beginnings of Spanish colonization in the Caribbean along with a scathing critique of the abuse and enslavement of Native Americans by the Spanish. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s La relación (1542, Chronicle of the Narváez Expedition) recounts the aftermath of the failed Narváez expedition to Florida that ended in a shipwreck. As one of four survivors, Cabeza de Vaca describes his eight-year journey across the southwest to Mexico City in his attempts to get back to Spain, detailing his experiences among the indigenous peoples he encountered and his observations of the geographical terrain. His mention of wealth-laden cities sparked another expedition, which Fray Marcos de Niza’s narrates in Relación del descubrimiento de las siete ciudades (1539, Discovery of the Seven Cities of Cibola), describing his quest to find and lay claim to the mythic cities of Cíbola. A colonizing quest is also the subject of Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá’s epic poem Historia de la Nueva México (1610, The History of New Mexico). In thirty-four cantos, Villagrá relates from a loyal soldier’s perspective the expedition under Juan de Oñate that led to the massacre of the Acoma pueblo. These texts reveal the physical and ideological effects of colonization, as Eurocentric worldviews justified the takeover of territory and resources and rationalized the subjugation of Native Americans and later the importation of African slaves to labor for the imperial project. Because these texts also reveal how functionaries of the empire could take critical stances toward or demonstrate the challenges and limits to imperialism, they are also precursors to later explicit critiques of empire that constitute a major strand in Latina/o literature.
For three centuries (1492–1800s) the Spanish Empire controlled territory in the Western Hemisphere. Beginning in 1810, colonies fought wars for independence, resulting in the founding of republics all over Latin America. By the late 19th century, only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained colonies fighting for independence. Cuban and Puerto Rican dissidents protesting Spanish rule found exile in the United States, where through the exile press they could express their political views uncensored and “engaged in political fund raising, community organizing, and revolutionary plotting to overthrow regimes in countries of origin.”8
The revolutionary José Martí is the most famous of the Cuban exiles, and his essay “Nuestra America” (1891, “Our America”) envisions a unified Latin America against the imperial forces of the United States. In addition to writing political essays, Martí wrote poetry, such as the collection Versos sencillos (1891), which contains stanzas that would become lyrics in the song, “Guantanamera,” considered Cuba’s unofficial anthem. José María Heredia was another notable pro-independence Cuban exile; his collection Poesías (1825) contains the poem “Niagara,” in which the speaker looks upon Niagara Falls and reflects on the exile experience.9 Scholars speculate that the Cuban exile Félix Varela wrote the historical novel, Jicoténcal, which was published anonymously in Philadelphia in 1826 and published in an English translation as Xicotencatl in 1999. It imaginatively reconstructs the Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire by dramatizing aspects of Hernán Cortés’s alliance with the Tlaxcalan indigenous peoples. Among Puerto Rican exiles, Ramón Emeterio Betances’s political writings reflect his efforts as a primary organizer in the Puerto Rican independence movement, helping plan the 1868 insurrection known as the Grito de Lares (Cry of Lares). At his request, the poet Lola Rodíguez de Tió, who also spent time as an exile in New York, composed a revolutionary song to be used as an anthem for the Lares insurrection.10 Its title “La Borinqueña” (1868, translated as “The Song of Borinquen”) evokes the name the indigenous inhabitants, the Taínos, called the island of Puerto Rico. The lyrics would be changed and softened when “La Borqueña” was adopted as Puerto Rico’s official anthem in 1952. Eugenio María de Hostos’s efforts on behalf of Puerto Rican autonomy are captured in the speech “Liga de Patriotas Puertorriqueños”/“League of Puerto Rican Patriots” (1898), which he delivered after the United States took over Puerto Rico through the Spanish American War.11 Another political organizer, Francisco Gonzalo “Pachín” Marín produced poetry influenced by European romanticism and expressing revolutionary sentiments.12 As critic Juan Flores remarks, “when read alongside the essays and sketches of José Marti on New York and the United States, these materials offer the earliest ‘inside’ view of American society by Caribbean writers and intellectuals.”13
In the 19th century, the U.S. quest for expansion also led to war with Mexico, leading to geopolitical shifts that created a large segment of the early Mexican American population. The U.S.–Mexican War (1846–1847) officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, but the consequences of annexation and the asymmetrical power relations that resulted have been the subjects of many Mexican American narratives both historically and in the contemporary moment. Because they exemplify narratives of resistance against Anglo domination, 19th-century corridos, or border ballads, such as “Joaquín Murieta” and “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” have been considered by some scholars as an “incipient form of Chicano literature.”14 Part of an oral tradition, these ballads centered on a Mexican American epic hero who stands up to Anglo authority, tapping into sentiments about the fraught socioeconomic relations between Anglos and Mexicans. These corridos also reveal how Spanish narrative forms were inherited by later generations. Forms such as the ten-line poetic decima, the canción (song), the romance (narrative verse), and the corrido (narrative ballad derived from the romance) were transmitted through oral and written culture and continue to appear in contemporary narrative expression.15 During the 19th century, most writing appeared in Spanish-language newspapers, diaries, and personal letters. However, two novels by María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Who Would Have Thought It? (1872/1995) and The Squatter and the Don (1885/1992), represent the changing sociopolitical situation faced by landed elites in the aftermath of the U.S.–Mexican War. The Personal Memoirs of John N. Seguín (1858) offers an autobiographical account by someone who had to negotiate political and military allegiances between the United States and Mexico. Seguín was born in Texas and was involved in its political life, serving as mayor of San Antonio and fighting for Texas rebels in the battle of the Alamo. But as Seguín recounts in his narrative, political animosities compelled his exile into Mexico, where he was forced to serve in the Mexican military. The memoir is an attempt to explain his divided loyalties. Writings by two New Mexican brothers, Eusebio and Felipe Maximiliano Chacón, are also valued as cultural products of this time.16 Eusebio Chacón wrote the stories “El hijo de la tempestad” (Son of the Tempest) and “Tras la tormenta la calma” (The Calm after the Storm), both published in 1892. Felipe Maximiliano Chacón’s prose and poetry are collected in Obras de Felipe Maximiliano Chacón, El Cantor Neo-Mexicano: Poesía y Prosa (1924). These 19th-century writings raise several issues that continued to appear in later writings by Latina/os: the history of conquest and colonization, the effects of and resistance toward cultural imperialism, the forging of new identities out of conflict-ridden pasts, a mixed cultural literary heritage, and historical events that will cause immigration into or displacement within the United States.
Early 20th-Century Migration and Immigration
Authors captured the early 20th-century immigration from Latin America to the United States by writing about the alienating experience of adjusting to a new country. The Colombian political exile, Alirio Díaz Guerra, who spent the last thirty years of his life in New York, wrote the first Spanish language novel about Latina/o immigration to the United States.17 His novel, Lucas Guevara (1914), centers on an idealistic protagonist who experiences hardship and ends up disillusioned about life in the United States, a trajectory present in subsequent narratives of immigration.18 This formula is present in Daniel Venegas’s picaresque novel, Las aventuras de don Chipote o cuando los pericos mamen (1928, The Adventures of Don Chipote or, When the Parrots Breastfed, 2000), which takes a more satirical tone in critiquing the conditions facing immigrant Mexican laborers in the 1920s.
In the wake of the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917, which gave Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship, thousands of Puerto Ricans migrated to the mainland seeking economic opportunities. Community activist and journalist Bernardo Vega was part of this early cohort, and he documents his experiences and those of a growing New York Puerto Rican community in his memoirs. Although written in 1947, the memoir was not published until the 1970s under the title Memorias de Bernardo Vega (1977)/Memoirs of Bernardo Vega: A Contribution to the History of the Puerto Rican Community in New York (1984). As part of his community organizing, Vega bought and edited the weekly newspaper, Gráfico, which sought to foster a panethnic identity among Spanish-speaking immigrant groups.19 Jesús Colón, who like Vega, was politicized at an early age by growing up around socialist cigar workers in Puerto Rico before his migration to the United States, also committed himself to labor activism and journalism. He wrote for Vega’s newspaper, Gráfico, among other periodicals over his fifty-year career. Some of his political observations and his experiences of racism as a black Puerto Rican are collected in the autobiographical book of sketches, A Puerto Rican in New York and Other Sketches (1961). While Colón’s work is critical of the American Dream, the autobiography of his contemporary, Pedro Juan Labarthe, The Son of Two Nations: The Private Life of a Columbia Student (1931) is more accepting of it, perhaps, as William Leal surmises, because it was published in an earlier historical moment—after the cross-ethnic economic struggles of the Great Depression.20 Another cohort of Puerto Rican migration would occur during the 1940s and 1950s as a result of Operation Bootstrap, the series of initiatives implemented on the island to transform it from an agrarian into an industrial economy. The Puerto Rican playwright René Marqués spent some time on the mainland and reflected the aspirations and ordeals faced by this generation of migrants in his play, La carreta (1952)/The Oxcart (1969). The three-act play traces a family’s journey from rural to urban Puerto Rico and then to New York City, ending with their declarations to return to Puerto Rico after experiencing tragedy.
Like their Puerto Rican contemporaries, Mexican American writers of the first half of the 20th century are part of a transitional phase, before the political and cultural activism of the 1960s led to the production of narratives as part of self-consciously collective enterprises. The Texas-born folklorist, journalist, and fiction writer Américo Paredes was one of the most influential of this period. He recorded and historicized the corrido “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez” in his book, With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and its Hero (1958). As a university professor at the University of Texas, Austin, he played a vital role in the formation of Mexican American and folklore studies in the southwest.21 The poetry of this self-described “proto-Chicano” is compiled in the collection, Between Two Worlds (1991).22 His novel, George Washington Gomez was written during the 1930s but not published until 1990. It follows the life story of the eponymous protagonist who stands in for the generation of “Mexico-Texans” trying to reconcile bicultural identities in the face of prejudice toward Mexicans. Folklorist, educator, and Texas native Jovita González was also involved in preserving the oral traditions of people in the southwest.23 Along with Spanish-language textbooks and writings on folklore, she authored two historical romance novels, Dew on the Thorn (1997) and, with Eve Raleigh (the pseudonym of Margaret Eimer), Caballero (1996), both published posthumously. Born in Mexico and later educated in the United States, Josefina Niggli often incorporated folklore into her plays and in her first novel, Mexican Village (1945). Set in a rural northern Mexican town and featuring a protagonist named Bob Webster, who was born to a Mexican mother and Anglo father, the novel dramatizes how he comes to value his Mexican heritage. Short-story writer Mario Suárez was one of the first authors to use the word “Chicano” in his writing, which he does in the story “El Hoyo” (1947, “The Hole”), which portrays the strong communal bonds in a barrio in Tucson, Arizona.24
The Mexican American population includes descendants of those who had lived on territory that would later become part of the United States as well as those migrating from Mexico after 1848. The earliest mass migration of Mexicans coming to the United States occurred during the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920). Labor organizer, educator, and children’s literature writer Ernesto Galarza documented his family’s immigration story during this period in his novelistic memoir, Barrio Boy: The Story of a Boy’s Acculturation (1971). Born several decades after Galarza and in the United States, José Antonio Villareal begins his novel Pocho (1959) with the experiences of his protagonist’s father, a fighter in the revolution who immigrates to Santa Clara, California, in 1921. The novel, which has autobiographical elements, revolves around the experiences of a youth who increasingly feels conflicted about reconciling his family’s values and his Mexican ethnicity in a U.S. context. Villareal’s question of how to negotiate ethnic identity and the socioeconomic and cultural realities of life in the United States would receive more certain answers in the work of the next generation of writers.
Political Activism and Cultural Nationalisms
The 1960s and 1970s were a time of political upheaval across the world. In Latin America, countries fought to overthrow dictatorships that had produced severe wealth disparities and widespread poverty. In 1959, the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro deposed the dictator Fulgencio Batista, and in 1961, the dictator of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, was assassinated after thirty-one years as head of a repressive regime. However, U.S. Cold War fears about the spread of socialist governments in Latin America also led to backlash against attempts at social reform in Latin America, the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, U.S. support for counter-revolutionary forces during the civil wars in Central America (1960–1990), and the U.S.-supported coup against Chilean president Salvador Allende in 1973 that installed the right-wing dictator Augusto Pinochet. War, poverty, and repression contributed to the mass migrations of people from the Caribbean, Central America, and the Southern Cone in the post-1960s period. Out of these diasporic experiences came literature from writers such as Cristina Garcia, Julia Alvarez, Junot Díaz, Hector Tobar, and Ariel Dorfman, whose works after 1980 portrayed the effects of authoritarian regimes and the experiences of exiles, refugees, and immigrants.
During the 1960s and 1970s, two of the largest Latina/o populations with multi-generational communities already in the US were Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans. Registering their particular experiences as racialized minorities in the United States, art and institutions emerging from these communities fostered collective identities and served as cultural components to political activism occurring within these groups. Broadly, this activism addressed labor exploitation, economic inequality, educational disparities, and discrimination in employment, housing, and the legal system, as well as Puerto Rico’s continued status as a U.S. colony. Though this activism has been categorized under umbrella terms such as “Chicano Movement” and the “Puerto Rican Movement,” these movements comprised distinct organizations using varied strategies and included unions, student groups, militant groups, nationalist groups, and those pursuing institutionally based reform.25 Influenced by global revolutionary movements as well as the Black civil rights and Black power movements in the United States, Mexican Americans and Puerto Rican activists created art to spread awareness and inspire action.
This new generation of Mexican Americans reinterpreted and adopted the derogatory word “Chicano,” which had meant “peasant,” to convey a politicized identity and express cultural affirmation. Art, poetry, and theater became the most popular narrative forms in the early stages of the Chicano Movement, reflecting desires to create work that could be spoken or staged for public accessibility. In Delano, California, Luis Valdez aided the United Farm Workers Union by creating a social protest theater group, El Teatro Campesino (the Farmworkers’ Theater) in 1965. Through short bilingual skits called actos, performers spread awareness about the need for organizing.26 Luis Valdez’s plays and the politics of El Teatro Campesino subsequently inspired the creation of theater groups around the country.27 In constructing a collective identity, writers and artists drew upon icons, myths, and figures from Mexican history and culture as well as created new ones, as demonstrated by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez’s epic poem, “I am Joaquín/Yo Soy Joaquín” (1967). Gonzalez was the founder of the Crusade for Justice, a civil rights organization based in Denver, Colorado. In his paradigmatic Movement poem, he constructs the figure of Joaquín as a stand in for Chicano political consciousness, able to synthesize contradictions and emerging out of a revolutionary lineage traced back to the periods of conquest, colonization, independence, and revolution in Mexico and extending into the United States through Chicanos. The poetry of Alurista (Alberto Baltazar Urista) also exemplifies how Chicanos sought historical antecedents and created a contemporary mixed-cultural aesthetic. The title of his poetry collection, Floricanto en Aztlán (1971) alludes to two indigenous images: Floricanto translates to “flower and song,” the Náhuatl metaphor for poetry, while Aztlán evokes the mythic homeland of the Aztecs, located in the U.S. Southwest. Chicano as well as Caribbean writers have used references to indigeneity as an “anti-colonial strategy,” and their alignment with a non-European heritage has been a mode of dealing with racism in the United States.28 Alurista’s collection also demonstrates linguistic experimentation and poetic tactics that would be taken up by other writers and is emblematic of what Juan Bruce-Novoa calls “interlingualism,” which he defines as the “subtle fusion of grammar, syntax, or cross-cultural allusions.”29
The diasporic political poetry and writing that flourished within New York City’s growing Puerto Rican community in the 1960s and 1970s was frequently termed “Nuyorican.” “Boricua” is another descriptive label used to include literature produced by Puerto Ricans outside of New York.30 The Nuyorican label gained use after the establishment of the Nuyorican Poets Café in the early 1970s and the publication of the Nuyorican Poetry (1975) anthology.31 Coeditor of the anthology with Miguel Piñero, poet and scholar Miguel Algarín hosted gatherings in his apartment and later cofounded the Nuyorican Poets Café with Piñero, a nonprofit performance space where poets like Pedro Pietri, Lucky Cienfuegos, and Sandra María Esteves performed; the Nuyorican Poets Café is still in operation on Manhattan’s lower East Side. Like Chicano poetry, Nuyorican poetry created community out of desires for social justice and employs bilingualism and code switching. Nuyorican poetry, as exemplified by Tato Laviera in La carreta Made a U-Turn (1979, The Oxcart Made a U-Turn) is also known for incorporating musical rhythms and poetic forms evocative of Puerto Rican’s Afro-Caribbean heritage. Several writers, including Miguel Piñero and Pedro Pietri, were also part of the Young Lords, a group made up primarily of Puerto Ricans who were inspired by the Black Panthers in their approach to community activism and social protest tactics. In 1969, Pedro Pietri read his poem, “Puerto Rican Obituary” to a gathering at the First Spanish United Methodist Church. While Gonzalez’s “I am Joaquin” narrates the birth of an oppositional Chicano consciousness, Pietri’s poem “Puerto Rican Obituary” eulogizes impoverished Puerto Rican individuals trying to assimilate but forced to economically compete to impart the necessity of forming an empowered community. The representation of urban socioeconomic conditions and the need for empowerment also saw expression in “civil rights era fictions” like those by Piri Thomas in his autobiographical novel, Down These Mean Streets (1967) and in Nicholasa Mohr’s novel, Nilda (1973).32 Ernesto Quiñonez represents the political legacy of the Young Lords and the influences of the Nuyorican literary scene in his novel set in 1990s Spanish Harlem, Bodega Dreams (2000).
The Latino/a tradition of publishing in community newspapers, more than a century old, continued into the 20th century, along with concerted efforts to widen publishing opportunities in the late 1960s and 1970s. Periodicals like the Chicano Con Safos: Reflections of Life in the Barrio (1968–1972) and El Palante (1969–1974), produced by the Young Lords, helped disseminate Movement messages. Publishing to foster scholarship and literature that would counter negative perceptions of Mexican Americans, activists founded journals such as El Grito: A Journal of Contemporary Mexican-American Thought (1967–1974) and Aztlán: Chicano Journal of the Social Sciences and the Arts (1970–present).33 Early journals contributing to Puerto Rican studies included La Revista del Instituto de Estudios Puertorriqueños (1971) and The Rican: Journal of Contemporary Puerto Rican Thought (1971–1975).34 Two journals founded in the 1970s, De Colores and Revista Chicano-Riqueña (later retitled The Americas Review), have ceased operations, while Bilingual Review/Revista Bilingüe continues to publish.35 The founders of El Grito also established Quinto Sol Publications and Premio Quinto Sol (the Fifth Sun Award) also known as the Quinto Sol National Literary Award. By giving recognition to and publishing Chicano novels, the award “highlighted and rendered immediate recognition to the novel as a genre that had remained in total obscurity up to that time.”36 Quinto Sol awarded four prizes: Tomás Rivera’s . . . y no se lo tragó la tierra/. . . And the Earth Did Not Part in 1970; Rudolfo A. Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima in 1971; and to both Rolando Hinojosa’s Estampas del Valle y otras obras (Sketches of the Valley and Other things) and Estela Portillo Trambley’s Rain of Scorpions and Other Writings in 1972. Two other publishing houses would be established in the 1970s: Arte Público Press in 1973 and Bilingual Review Press in 1974, which have been large publishers of Latina/o literature.37
By the 1980s, the establishment of presses, the expansion of curricula, and the increased institutional support for ethnic artists and scholars enabled the wider dissemination of Latina/o literature. Luis Valdez’s career illustrates this trajectory. In 1967, El Teatro Campesino founded El Centro Campesino Cultural (The Workers’ Cultural Center) in Del Rey, California, and produced plays that spoke to urban experiences as well.38 Valdez’s play, Zoot Suit, about interethnic urban conflict and the 1940s Sleepy Lagoon Trial, was the first Chicano play performed in a commercial theater, first premiering at the Los Angeles Mark Taper Forum in 1978 and then performed on Broadway in New York’s Winter Garden Theater in 1979; Valdez produced a film version of the play in 1981.39 Autobiographies became a popular genre for writers in the 1980s and 1990s, with writers like Richard Rodriguez, Gary Soto, Luis J. Rodriguez, Judith Ortiz Cofer, and Esmeralda Santiago producing in this form.
Feminist Interventions and Queering Latinidad
Latinas also changed the course of Latino literature by opening conversations about patriarchy, heteronormativity, and interlocking oppressions. Writings by Latina feminists emerged in the 1970s and 1980s as a response to dual tensions: the sexism they experienced in nationalist liberation movements and the racism they experienced in the feminist movement. Undergirding the intraethnic sexism they experienced was a long history of machismo (ideas about and an expression of masculinity) that subordinated women while expecting them to play crucial roles in maintaining the family unit, and then by extension, the activist community. Asked to subsume desires for agency in favor of fighting racial oppression, Latinas pointed to the hypocrisy of the Chicano and Puerto Rican Movements that still kept them bound to serve, stay silent, and suppress their sexuality. Chicanas challenged “the view that machismo was a source of masculine pride for Chicanos and therefore a defense mechanism against the dominant society’s racism,” as Alma Garcia put it.40 Maricela Christine Lucero-Trujillo captures this critique in one of her poems when her speaker declares “Hey Chicano bossman/don’t tell me that/machismo is part of our culture . . . You constantly remind me,/me, your Chicana employee/that machi-machi-machismo/is part of our culture.” Lucero-Trujillo also expresses the other critique driving Latina feminism in her poem “No More Cookies, Please” directed at the white feminist movement when she writes “No more cookies, please./You differentiate between the two,/but can you really separate your sex from your color/No? Then see, it won’t do.” Latinas resisted the argument that patriarchy was their number one oppression, when it was clear to many that racism and economic inequality subjected them to multiple oppressions.
Like other women of color during this time, Chicanas and Latinas called for an awareness of an intersectional understanding of identity and oppression. An intersectional analysis would take into account a woman’s social location in multiple ways, such as race, gender, sexuality, and class. The anthology, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981), coedited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa, was a pivotal articulation of intersectionality by Latina, African American, Asian American, and Native American women. It signaled how “Chicanas along with other women of color became the literary architects of their own movement”41 by foregrounding the need to consider lived experiences by voices who have been historically marginalized. It was more common to see anthologies for single ethnic groups in the 1970s and 1980s, such as one for Chicano literature and another for Puerto Rican writers. The inclusion of women of different ethnic backgrounds, including writing by Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Chicanas, also “helped to exemplify the power of collaboration across difference” that “would have wide-ranging effects not only for the way that women of color and U.S. Third World feminists saw each other, but for how different Latino groups related.”42
Latinas wrote in a variety of genres expressing female and feminist perspectives. Estela Portillo-Trambley and Cherríe Moraga wrote plays, such as The Day of the Swallows (1971) and The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea (1995), respectively, inspiring future writers for writing female-centric storylines and portraying lesbian protagonists. Cherríe Moraga also interrogated the hyper-masculinist and heterosexual boundaries of Chicano nationalism in an essay calling for a need to “Queer Aztlán.”43 For their part, Ana Castillo and Sandra Cisneros celebrated female sexuality and experimented with poetic and prose forms. Cisneros would also produce one of the bestselling and most widely translated Latina/o texts, The House on Mango Street, which was originally published by Arté Público Press in 1984 and later republished by a mainstream press, Vintage, in 1991. Like Cisneros, Julia Alvarez in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1991) and Cristina Garcia in Dreaming in Cuban (1992) also found wide readership in writing coming-of-age novels about Dominican American and Cuban American women respectively coming into consciousness about gender restrictions. Helena María Viramontes set her feminist Bildungsroman, or novel about a protagonist’s development, Under the Feet of Jesus (1994) among a community of migrant farmworkers in the 1970s.
Chicanas also created a feminist mythos. Chicanas reinterpreted female Mexican historical figures that had been maligned or idealized depending on how they upheld patriarchal values. One maligned figure was Malinche, also known as Malintzín and Doña Marina, the indigenous woman who served as translator and lover to Hernán Cortéz. Seen as a traitor to her indigenous people, her name became associated with ultimate betrayal. Because Chicanas who embraced feminism were seen as adopting a divisive ideology and betraying collectivist politics, reconfiguring Malinche into a feminist symbol and imagining her as having a complex subjectivity became an important political project for writers like Erlinda Gonzales-Berry, Pat Mora, Cherríe Moraga, Lucha Corpi, and Lorna Dee Cervantes. Even though the Virgin of Guadalupe stood as a contrasting symbol in Mexican and Chicano culture, because she embodied the ideal woman and mother, Chicanas like Gloria Anzaldúa in Borderlands (1987) and Ana Castillo as editor of the collection of essays Goddess of the Americas (1997) have asserted her strength as an indigenous and syncretic deity.
Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987) achieved special impact. Part autobiography and history, prose and poetry, and switching between English, Spanish, and Nahuatl, Borderlands’ hybrid form parallels the hybrid subjectivity of the “new mestiza” that she theorizes. Emerging from the “borderlands,” a geographical, psychic, and symbolic space of conflict and contradiction, the mestiza consciousness is able to move past binary thinking and the hierarchies it imposes. Borderlands became an influential text across several fields of study due to its experimental form, its politics, and its framework for thinking about geopolitical and ideological borders.
Writings by and about queer Latinos have been published with increasing frequency. One of the earliest was John Rechy’s City of Night (1963), which centers on the experiences of a young male sex worker in different cities. Arturo Islas also wrote two family sagas, Rain God (1984) and Migrant Souls (1990), that delve into homophobia in and outside of a border town and a Mexican family. Michael Nava wrote a series of detective novels featuring a gay Latino lawyer, the first entitled The Little Death (1986). In the late 1990s, two anthologies featuring gay Latino writers appeared. Colombian American poet and novelist, Jaime Manrique, co-edited with Jesse Dorris the anthology, Bésame Mucho: An Anthology of Gay Latino Fiction (1999). Jaime Cortez, who would later create the graphic novel Sexile (2004), edited the anthology Virgins, Guerrillas, and Locas: Gay Latinos Writing about Love (1999). Writer and spoken word poet, Emanuel Xavier published his first book of poetry, Pier Queen in 1997 and in the 2000s would edit two poetry anthologies, Bullets & Butterflies: Queer Spoken Word Poetry (2005) and Mariposas: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry (2008). Among writers publishing in the 2000s, Rigoberto González produced books of poetry, novels, children’s books, and memoirs, including Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa (2006); Manuel Muñoz wrote two books of short stories, Ziggzagger (2003), The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue (2007), and a novel, What You See in the Dark (2011); and Justin Torres published his Bildungsroman, We The Animals (2011). The Cuban American poet Richard Blanco, who delivered his poem “One Today” at Barack Obama’s second inauguration, won a Lamda Literary Award for Gay Memoir for The Prince of Los Cocuyos (2014). Charles Rice-González and Charlie Vásquez edited From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction (2011) to address the lack of fiction anthologies in the previous decade, and Ambientes: New Queer Latino Writing (2011), edited by Lázaro Lima and Felice Picano, anthologized writing across LBGTQ experiences.44
Contemporary Diasporic Literature
While diasporic populations produce Latina/o literature, the conditions leading to migration vary historically and between and within groups. Increased writing by Cuban Americans, Dominican Americans, Central Americans, and South Americans has appeared since the 1980s. The 1959 Cuban Revolution led to a mass exile of Cubans to the United States, who settled largely in Miami and hoped to return to Cuba upon the failure of the Communist Revolution. Much contemporary Cuban American literature deals in some way with the “Revolution/Exile dialectic.”45 There are exceptions, such as Oscar Hijuelos’s Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989), about a pair of Cuban brothers and musicians who immigrated to New York City in the 1950s, before the Revolution, and Nilo Cruz’s Pulitzer prize winning play, Anna in the Tropics (2003) about Cubans working in a Florida cigar factory in 1929. Writers who have represented the post-1959 Cuban American community include Roberto G. Fernández, Carolina Hospital, Elías Miguel Muñoz, Cristina Garcia, Achy Obejas, and Melinda López. As Ricardo L. Ortíz explains, two events in the 1980s significantly affected the Cuban American population: the “collective shift from an ‘exile’ to an ‘immigrant’ mindset” that led many Cuban Americans to accept permanent residence in the United States and the 1979 Mariel Boatlift, which brought more than 100,000 Cubans to the United States.46 In contrast to the exile generation, these Cubans were poor prior to the Revolution, tended to be darker-skinned, or were considered undesirable by the Cuban government as “political dissidents, sexual minorities, and persons suffering from various pathologies that the Revolution could not or refused to treat.”47 Cuban American writers representing working-class Cubans include Cecilia Rodriguez-Milanés, Achy Obejas, and Eduardo Santiago.
One of the more recent Caribbean populations in the United States is the diaspora from the Dominican Republic. The arrival of Dominicans as a large cohort began in the 1960s, with the ending of the Trujillo dictatorship. There were earlier Dominicans producing literature in the United States, and Silvio Torres-Saillant distinguishes this Spanish-language writing as part of the period “before the diaspora” which refers to the time from the “19th century to the end of the Trujillo dictatorship.”48 Writers from this period include Jesusa Alfau Galván de Solalinde, Felipe Alfau, Virginia de Peña de Bordas, Manuel Florentino Cestero, Gustavo Bergés Bordas, Camila Henríquez Ureña and Pedro Henríquez Ureña. The rise of what is now considered Dominican American literature can be traced to the 1970s. New writing collectives and workshops in New York helped support and promote writers like Juan Rivero, Esteban Torres, and Diogenes Abreu, among others.49 Writers and literary critics Daisy Cocco de Filippis and Franklin Gutiérrez played a large role in these efforts by organizing gatherings for writers, producing anthologies, and writing literary histories of Dominican American writing.50 The history of the Trujillo dictatorship has informed much of Dominican American literature, including Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies (1994), Angie Cruz’s Let It Rain Coffee (2005), and Junot Díaz’s The Brief Life of Oscar Wao (2007). Writing about lives that were cut short or oppressed by the Trujillo regime and its legacy, these writers exhibit what Elena Machado Sáez describes as an “ethical imperative to write historical counter narratives.”51
This ethical imperative drives much of the writing by Central Americans in the United States as well. The last two decades of the 20th century saw the largest increase in immigrants from Central America to the US, many of whom were fleeing civil wars in three countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.52 Literature representing the effects of the Guatemalan Civil War include the following novels: Francisco Goldman’s The Long Night of White Chickens (1992), Héctor Tobar’s The Tattooed Soldier (1998), David Unger’s Life in the Damn Tropics (2004), and Sylvia Sellers-García, When the Ground Turns in its Sleep (2007). Mario Bencastro has depicted the Salvadorean Civil War in his novel, A Shot in the Cathedral (1989) and collection of short stories, The Tree of Life: Stories of Civil War (1997) as well as life in the United States for Salvadorans in his novel, Odyssey to the North (1998) and the short stories in Paraíso portátil/Portable Paradise (2010). A Salvadorian American detective is the protagonist of Marcos McPeek Villatoro’s series of detective novels, which include Home Killings (2004), Minos (2003), A Venom Beneath the Skin (2005), and Blood Daughters (2011). Chicana author, Demetria Martínez portrays the 1980s Sanctuary Movement aiding Salvadorian refugees in the novel, Mother Tongue (1997). Silvio Sirias has explored the history of the Somoza regime and the Sandinistas in his novel, Bernardo and the Virgin (2005), as does Daniel Orozco in the short story, “Somoza’s Dream.” Two pioneering anthologies are Desde el Epicentro: An Anthology of U.S. Central American Poetry (2007) and Izote Vos: A Collection of Salvadoran American Writing and Visual Art (2000). Other Latina/o authors writing about Central America include Cristina Henríquez (Panama), Uriel Quesada (Costa Rica), and Roberto Queseda and Omar S. Castañeda (Honduras). As Ana Patricia Rodríguez explains, the prevalent themes in Central American diasporic writing are “the trauma of war, displacement, dislocation, institutional and other forms of violence, remittance economies and cultures, the social valve of migration, the biopolitics of expendable laboring bodies, and the apparently unrelenting search for social justice and homelands across the Americas.”53
Because South America encompasses ten countries, including Brazil, which has a Portuguese rather than a Spanish colonial heritage, characterizing Latina/o literature from South America risks missing the heterogeneity that exists, as also can occur in describing Latina/o literature. Moreover, literature from U.S. South Americans is still in an emerging field of study. As Juanita Heredia argues, “while South American Latino literature may begin in the 20th century, it is in the post-2000 period that more authors come into prominence with wider critical acclaim.”54 A factor influencing emigration from South America has been the political situation in this region. Political violence in “Brazil, Colombia, and Peru from the 1970s to the 1990s forced thousands to flee their homelands and settle with their families in the U.S.,” as also happened in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay.55 Ariel Dorfman and Marjorie Agosín are two writers who left Chile due to the coup displacing President Salvador Allende in 1973. Jaimie Manrique, Leila Cobo, and Patricia Engel have written fiction featuring Colombian Americans in Latin Moon in Manhattan (1992), Tell me Something True (2009), and Vida (2010), respectively. Daniel Alarcón is a Peruvian American writer who has written a collection of short stories, War by Candlelight (2005) and two novels, Lost City Radio (2007), and At Night We Walk in Circles (2013) in addition to cofounding Radio Ambulante, a Spanish-language podcast about Latin American stories. Marie Arana has written a memoir, American Chica (2002) about growing up with both Peruvian and American heritages, while Kathleen de Azevedo’s Samba Dreamers (2006) is set in Brazil and LA. A feature distinguishing this more contemporary diasporic literature is that “as globalization has increased in the 21st century, many South Americans have maintained more consistent contact with their national heritages/homeland through frequent travels.”56
Latina/o literature now spans a wide range of themes, experiences, and genres. There are discernable themes present in much of 20th-century literature that writers in the 21st century continue to explore such as war, trauma, migration as well as immigration, racism, acculturation, labor conditions, gender roles, sexuality, and identity formation. Latina/o literature also reflects the vastly different experiences within the Latina/o population, which is evident in Hector Tobar’s novels. Tobar’s first novel, The Tattooed Soldier (1998), followed the experiences of both a Guatemalan refugee to LA and the Guatemalan solider who killed his family, while his second novel, The Barbarian Nurseries (2011), is set in the LA suburbs and follows a Mexican woman working as an undocumented maid in the house of a well-to-do family whose father does not identify as Latino, mainly because his father was ashamed of his Mexican heritage. In addition to reflecting a diversity of experiences in terms of class, gender, sexuality, country of origin, and regional location, among others, Latina/o literature can now be found in a variety of genres, such as sci-fi, children’s literature, “chica lit,” and graphic novels. Additionally, while historically pan-Latino identification has been more of an interest of scholars and marketers than creative writers, as Marta Caminero-Santangelo notes, “Latino/a writers of the late 20th and 21st centuries are paying increasing attention to the tentative possibilities of a panethnic latinidad.”57
Discussion of the Literature
Latina/o literary scholarship has primarily been published on specific subgroups. Foundational treatments of Chicana/o literature generated theoretical paradigms for analysis and made a case for its cohesiveness as a body of literature.58 Among them, Ramón Saldívar’s approach in Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference (1990), which combined postructuralist and Marxist theory, is a key work in the field and in Latina/o literary studies broadly. Scholars have also theorized the characteristics and evolution of Chicano Movement poetry.59 Building on Américo Paredes’s influential study of the Mexican American corrido, a strand of scholarship on Chicano poetry makes a case for the corrido as a paradigmatic form for Chicano/a poetry.60 Scholarship by Chicana feminists such as Norma Alarcón,61 Tey Diana Rebolledo,62 Sonia Saldívar-Hull,63 Mary Pat Brady64 and Paula Moya65 were influential in examining Chicana literary works responding to the centrality of masculinity and heteronormativity in Chicano politics and discourse and the racism oppressing people of color.
Since the publication of Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera (1987), the concept of “borderlands” has been a fruitful theoretical paradigm for scholars to discuss geopolitical and conceptual boundaries. Scholars have also been influenced by Américo Paredes’s concept of “Greater Mexico,” which evokes the extensive presence of Mexican people and culture on the U.S. side of the border. Building on this work, scholars such as José Davíd Saldívar,66 José E. Limón,67 Héctor Calderón,68 Ramón Saldívar,69 Alicia Schmidt Camacho,70 Marissa K. López,71 and Raúl Coronado72 have made a case for transnational modes of analysis, which in the case of López and Coronado, also entails 19th-century discourse analysis. Studies of the “transnational” or “trans-American” are now prevalent in Chicana/o and Latina/o literary criticism, influencing and influenced by hemispheric analyses in multiple fields. As John Morán González puts it, the “‘transnational turn’ in American studies can be attributed to the focus upon trans-migrant, cross-border analyses central to Latina/o studies . . . in turn, interaction with American studies and Latin American studies has worlded Latina/o literary studies, bringing the study of Latina/o literature into closer comparative contact with oral traditions and literature of the Americas, whether in English, Spanish, or indigenous languages.”73
Chicana/o literary scholarship has been undergoing a reconsideration of its temporal and conceptual boundaries. Scholars such as Genaro Padilla,74 José Aranda,75 and John Morán González76 have examined writing produced before the 1960s. The novel has been a popular form for writers and Marcial González77 and Ralph Rodriguez78 have examined Chicana/o novels for how they represent class dynamics and Chicana/o identity in the post-nationalist period, respectively. Other ways scholars have expanded the conceptual scope of Chicana/o cultural studies include analyses of a multitude of social issues and topics: gay and queer representations,79 disability,80 class heterogeneity,81 varied tactics within the Chicano Movement,82 assimilation,83 undocumented migration,84 the significance of Asia in Chicana/o culture and literature,85 and critical examinations of Chicana/os’ and Mexicans’s relation to indigeneity and indigenous peoples, among others.86
Scholarship on Caribbean literature in the United States also follows the trajectory of characterizing a discernable literary canon, and then expanding it conceptually, temporally, and geographically. Eugene Mohr’s The Nuyorican Experience: Literature of the Puerto Rican Minority (1982) was the first book-length study of Puerto Rican literature on the mainland.87 Mohr’s book does not venture into the 19th century, and Juan Flores’s book chapter “Puerto Rican Literature in the United States: Stages and Perspectives” makes a case for including 19th-century exile Puerto Ricans in the literary canon. Flores’s work has also been influential for including musical forms as part of the Puerto Rican literary history and theorizing the concept of diaspora to account for the back-and-forth exchange between Puerto Ricans on the mainland and island.88 Lisa Sánchez González’s book, Boricua Literature: A Literary History of the Puerto Rican Diaspora provides an updated history by examining writers producing literature in and beyond New York and by providing a sustained examination of genres other than poetry. In turn, Urayoán Noel’s In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (2014) provides the most in-depth history of Nuyorican poetry.
Early scholarship on Cuban American literature was informed predominantly by the historical stages established pre- and post-Cuban Revolution. Gustavo Pérez Firmat’s Life on the Hyphen: The Cuban-American Way (1994), which discusses various cultural forms, has been an influential theorization of Cuban American bicultural identity. Isabel Alvarez-Borland’s Cuban American Literature of Exile: From Person to Persona (1998)89 characterizes the evolution of exile literature over generations. José Quiroga analyzes Cuban historical memory and acts of memorialization in Cuban Palimpsests (2005).90 Shifting the temporal focus, scholarship by Louis A. Peréz,91 Rodrigo Lazo,92 and Laura Lomas93 spanned back to the 19th century. In recent works, Ricardo L. Ortíz94 examines Cuban American writing produced beyond Florida and how Cuban Americans authors are interrogating heteronormativity while Antonio M. López centralizes Afro-Cuban representations.95 William Luis’s Dance Between Two Cultures: Latino Caribbean Literature Written in the United States (1997) offered a pivotal contribution to studies of U.S. Caribbean literature by discussing writings by Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and Dominican Americans together.
Of these three groups—Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and Dominican Americans—there has been less scholarship on Dominican American literature, but this is changing. Daisy Cocco de Fillipis,96 Franklin Gutiérrez,97 and Silvio Torres-Saillant98 have produced the most overviews of this tradition and have provided vital contributions by compiling and publishing the works of Dominican American writers. Torres-Saillant has pointed out that most criticism has been produced on authors who have published through major presses, and on those writing in English.99 Thus, most scholarship has been written on Julia Alvarez and Junot Díaz. Raphael Dalleo and Elena Machado Sáez’s The Latino/a Canon and the Emergence of Post-Sixties Literature examine U.S. Caribbean literature to discuss the role of the market in contemporary cultural production, and to challenge the idea that contemporary literature is apolitical in contrast to the oppositional literature of the 1960s.100
Emerging areas of scholarship include criticism on U.S. writers from Central and South America, pan-Latino studies, and comparative-ethnic studies. Arturo Arias has addressed the marginality and invisibility of Central Americans in the United States101 and, in collaboration with Claudia Milian, has outlined ways of understanding this expanding population and its representations.102 Ana Patricia Rodríguez provides the most comprehensive cultural study of Central America and its diaspora in the United States in Dividing the Isthmus: Central American Transnational Histories, Literatures, and Cultures (2009).103 Scholarship in this area also includes Yajaira M. Padilla’s study of writings from El Salvador and its U.S. diaspora to discuss representations of female agency; Claudia Milian’s104 analysis of Central Americans in relation to Latino/a identity; and Ariana E. Vigil’s105 examination of Latina/o representations of the wars in Central America. No book has yet been published that focuses solely and entirely on Latina/o writers from South America. Scholarship exists on single authors or as part of pan-Latino projects. Suzanne Oboler has written a useful overview of immigration patterns from South America in a special issue of Latino Studies about South Americans.106 In recent years, more work is emerging offering analyses under the category “Latino” literary and cultural studies, exemplified by Kirsten Silva Gruesz,107 Marta Caminero-Santangelo,108 David J. Vásquez,109 John D. “Rio” Riofrio,110 Jennifer Harford Vargas,111 and the compilation of criticism edited by Lynn Di Iorio Sandín and Richard Perez.112 Work by Frederick Aldama113 and Tace Hedrick114 also analyzes pan-Latino representations of popular forms such as comic books and “chica lit,” respectively. Demonstrating another surfacing analytic, Michael Hames García,115 María Eugenia Cotera,116 Crystal Parikh,117 Ernesto Martínez,118 Paula Moya,119 and Sarah D. Wald120 analyze Latina/o literature in conjunction with literature by other ethnic groups.
Latina/literature can be found published as individual works and in anthologies. Three of the most comprehensive anthologies are The Latino Reader: An American Literary Tradition From 1542 to the Present (1997), Herencia: The Anthology of Hispanic Literature of the United States (2002), and The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2011). All three contain selections of texts from the 16th century to the 20th century. For anthologies from the 1970s cultural nationalist era, one may consult: The Chicanos: Mexican American Voices (1971), Aztlan: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature (1972), Mexican American Authors (1972), Literatura Chicana: Texto Y Contexto (1972), From the Barrio: A Chicano Anthology (1973), We are Chicanos: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature (1975), Borinquén: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Literature (1974), and Nuyorican Poetry: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Words and Feelings (1975). The anthologies published in the 1970s were specific to particular Latina/o groups, produced to carve a space for Chicano and Nuyorican literature and to present alternatives to the American literary canon, which excluded writers from these groups.121 The journal, Revista Chicano-Riqueña, established in 1972, has issues that are like anthologies and published literature from both groups, laying a foundation for future inter-ethnic collaborations.122 A Decade of Hispanic Literature (1982) was an outgrowth of Revista Chicano-Riqueña. Along with Hispanics in the United States (1980), it is one of the first anthologies to publish pan-Latino literature.123 Feminist anthologies include This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981), Cuentos: Stories by Latinas (1983), Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras (1990), and Infinite Divisions: An Anthology of Chicana Literature (1993). In the 1990s, anthologies start to include Dominican Americans in Latinos in English (1992), Masterpieces of Latino Literature (1994) and Latina (1995) and Central Americans in Currents from the Dancing River (1994) and New World (1997).124 Anthologies compiling the work of Dominican American authors include Niveles del imán: Recopilación de jóvenes poetas dominicanos en Nueva York (1983); Espiga del siglo (1984); Voces del exilio: Poetas dominicanos en la ciudad de New York (1986); Poemas del exilio y de otras inquietudes/Poems of Exile and Other Concerns (1988); and a special issue of the journal Brújula/Compass on “Dominican Writers in the U.S.” (1998). More recent anthologies on Puerto Rican literature are Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café (1994) and Boricuas: Influential Puerto Rican Writings (1995). Anthologies on Cuban American literature include Cuban American Writers: Los Atrevidos (1988); Bridges to Cuba (1994), Little Havana Blues: A Cuban-American Literature Anthology (1996), and A Century of Cuban Writers in Florida (1996). Anthologies featuring writings by queer authors include Compañeras: Latina Lesbians (1987), Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About (1991), Bésame Mucho: An Anthology of Gay Latino Fiction (1999), Virgins, Guerrillas, and Locas: Gay Latinos Writing about Love (1999), Bullets & Butterflies: Queer Spoken Word Poetry (2005) and Mariposas: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry (2008), From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction (2011) and Ambientes: New Queer Latino Writing (2011). Compilations featuring writers from Central America are Desde el Epicentro: An Anthology of U.S. Central American Poetry (2007) and Izote Vos: A Collection of Salvadorean American Writing and Visual Art (2000).
Archives containing materials from and about Latina/o authors can be found around the country. The Library of Congress has on-site archival materials as well as online sources. One of their recent online additions is the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape, which has over a 100 audio recordings of Latina/o and Latin American authors currently available from the nearly 700 accessible on-site. Other large archives are: the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection part of the University of Texas Archives, which also has online offerings through its Digital Collections; the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Library, whose holdings and online resources can be found here, and which also has materials available through the UCLA Film & Television Archive; Stanford University’s Latin America and Iberian Collections, which includes Mexican American Collections; the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives at the Special Collections Department of the University of California, Santa Barbara Library, which has Chicano and Latino Collections as well as a digital one of Chicano Art; the Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora at Hunter College, CUNY, which has several Digital Collections, including one specifically on Puerto Rican Writers; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, which also has Digital Collections; and The Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries, whose Digital Collections includes the Cuban Theater Digital Archive. The University of Southern California offers an online resource guide and databases of Chicano and Latino newspapers as well as a digital archive of photographs and films from the 1973 and 2010 Flor y Canto literary festivals. The Latino Literature database from Alexander Street Press also offers access to “100,000 pages of poetry, fiction, and over 450 plays written in English and Spanish by hundreds of Chicano, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and other Latino authors working in the United States.”125
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(1.) Francisco A. Lomelí, “Contemporary Chicano Literature, 1959–1990,” in Handbook of Hispanic Cultures in the United States: Literature and Art, ed. Francisco A. Lomelí (Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, 1993), 87.
(2.) “Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project,” Arte Público Press.
(3.) As Suzanne Bost and Frances R. Aparicio explain, “The terms ‘Hispanic’ and ‘Latino’ are US inventions to describe Latin American descent peoples in the United States” (1). While “Hispanic,” a term that the US government has employed since the 1970s for census-taking purposes, is seen as privileging a European heritage, “‘Latino’ is recognized as a more progressive term and as a way to account for the [racial and cultural] mixtures that differentiate American Latinos from Europeans.” Suzanne Bost and Frances R. Aparicio, “Introduction” in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, eds. Suzanne Bost and Frances R. Aparicio (London: Routledge, 2012), 1.
(4.) Marta Caminero-Santangelo, “Latinidad” in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, eds. Suzanne Bost and Frances R. Aparicio (London: Routledge, 2012), 21.
(5.) Nicolás Kanellos, “An Overview of Hispanic Literature of the United States,” Herencia: The Anthology of Hispanic Literature of the United States, ed. Nicolás Kanellos (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 4.
(6.) Nicolás Kanellos, ed., Herencia: The Anthology of Hispanic Literature of the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); and Ilan Stavans, ed., The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (New York: W.W. Norton, 2011), xiv.
(7.) Norton, 5.
(8.) Herencia, 22.
(9.) Norton, 203.
(10.) Norton, 257.
(11.) Norton, 249.
(12.) Norton, 318.
(13.) Juan Flores, “Puerto Rican Literature in the United States: Stages and Perspectives,” in Divided Borders: Essays on Puerto Rican Identity (Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, 1993), 145.
(14.) Raymund A. Paredes, “Special Feature: The Evolution of Chicano Literature,” MELUS 2 (1978): 76.
(15.) Charles M. Tatum, Chicano and Chicana Literature: Otra voz del pueblo (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2006), 38–39.
(16.) Norton, 333–335.
(17.) Herencia, 348.
(18.) Herencia, 348.
(20.) William Luis, Dance Between Two Cultures: Latino Caribbean Literature Written in the United States (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1997), 21.
(22.) Américo Paredes, Between Two Worlds (Houston, TX: Arte Publico Press, 1991), 11.
(24.) Norton, 732.
(25.) George Mariscal, Brown-Eyed Children of the Sun: Lessons from the Chicano Movement, 1965–1975 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005); and Andrés Torres, “Political Radicalism in the Diaspora—The Puerto Rican Experience,” in The Puerto Rican Movement: Voices from the Diaspora, eds. Andrés Torres and José Emiliano Velázquez (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998), 1–22.
(26.) Jorge Huerta, Chicano Drama: Performance, Society and Myth (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 3.
(28.) George Hartley, “Indigeneity” in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, 182.
(29.) Juan Bruce-Novoa. Retrospace (Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, 1990), 50.
(30.) Lisa Sánchez González, Boricua Literature: A Literary History of the Puerto Rican Diaspora (New York: New York University Press, 2001).
(31.) Urayoán Noel, In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2014), xxvi.
(32.) Lisa Sánchez González, Boricua Literature: A Literary History of the Puerto Rican Diaspora (New York: New York University Press, 2001), 132.
(33.) Tatum, 64.
(34.) Rafael Chabrán and Richard Chabrán, “The Spanish-Language and Latino Press of the United States: Newspapers and Periodicals” in Handbook of Hispanic Cultures in the United States: Literature and Art, ed. Francisco Lomelí (Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, 1993), 377–378.
(35.) Tatum, 64–65.
(36.) Francisco A. Lomelí, “Contemporary Chicano Literature, 1959–1990,” in Handbook of Hispanic Cultures in the United States: Literature and Art, ed. Francisco A. Lomelí (Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, 1993), 95.
(37.) Tatum, 65.
(40.) Alma M. Garcia, “The Development of Chicana Feminist Discourse, 1970–1980,” Gender & Society 3.2 (June 1989): 223.
(41.) Patricia Marina Trujillo, “Feminisms,” in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, 57.
(42.) Sandra K. Soto, “Queerness,” in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, 77.
(43.) Cherríe Moraga, “Queer Aztlán: The Re-formation of Chicano Tribe,” in The Last Generation (Boston: South End Press, 1993), 145–174.
(44.) Charles Rice-González and Charlie Vásquez, eds., From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction (Maple Shade, NJ: Lethe, 2011), vii.
(45.) Ricardo L. Ortíz, “Cuban-American Literature,” in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, 420.
(48.) Silvio Torres-Saillant, “Dominican-American Literature,” in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, 424.
(51.) Elena Machado Sáez, Market Aesthetics: The Purchase of the Past in Caribbean Diasporic Fiction (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015), 1.
(52.) Juan Gonzalez, Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America, revised ed. (New York: Penguin Books, 2011).
(53.) Ana Patricia Rodríguez, “Literatures of Central Americans in the United States,” in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, 452.
(54.) Juanita Heredia, “South American Latino/a Writers in the United States,” in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, 437.
(57.) Marta Caminero-Santangelo, “Latinidad,” in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, 23.
(58.) Joseph Sommers, “From the Critical Premise to the Product: Critical Modes and Their Application to a Chicano Literary Text,” New Scholar 6 (1977): 51–80; Joseph Sommers and Thomas Ybarra-Frausto, eds., Modern Chicano Writers: A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1979); Juan Bruce-Novoa, Chicano Authors: Inquiry by Interview (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980); Rosaura Sánchez, “Postmodernism and Chicano Literature” Aztlán 18 (1987): 1–4; Ramón Saldívar, Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990); and Hector Calderón and José David Saldívar, eds., Criticism in the Borderlands: Studies in Chicano Literature, Culture, and Ideology (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991).
(59.) Juan Bruce-Novoa, Chicano Poetry: A Response to Chaos (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1982); Cordelia Candelaria, Chicano Poetry: A Critical Introduction (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986); and Rafael Pérez-Torres, Chicano Poetry: Against Myths, Against Margins (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995).
(60.) Américo Paredes, With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and its Hero (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958); María Herrera-Sobek, The Mexican Corrido: A Feminist Analysis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990); and Jose E. Limón, Mexican Ballads, Chicano Poems: History and Influence in Mexican-American Social Poetry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).
(61.) Norma Alarcón, “Making Familia from Scratch: Split Subjectivities in the Work of Helena María Viramontes and Cherríe Moraga,” in Chicana Creativity and Criticism: Charting New Frontiers in American Literature, eds. María Hererra-Sobek and Helena María Viramontes (Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, 1988), 14–59; and “Traddutora, Traditora: A Paridigmatic Figure of Chicana Feminism,” Cultural Critique 5 (1989): 57–87.
(62.) Tey Diana Rebolledo, Women Singing in the Snow: A Cultural Analysis of Chicana Literature (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995).
(63.) Feminism on the Border: Chicana Gender Politics and Literature (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).
(64.) Extinct Lands, Temporal Geographies: Chicana Literature and the Urgency of Space (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002).
(65.) Paula M. L. Moya, Learning from Experience: Minority Identities, Multicultural Struggles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).
(66.) José David Saldívar, The Dialectics of Our America: Genealogy, Cultural Critique, and Literary History (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991); Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997); and Trans-Americanity: Subaltern Modernities, Global Coloniality, and the Cultures of Greater Mexico (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012).
(67.) José E. Limón, American Encounters: Greater Mexico, the United States, and the Erotics of Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1998).
(68.) Héctor Calderón, Narratives of Greater Mexico: Essays in Chicano Literary History, Genre, and Borders (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004).
(69.) Ramón Saldívar, The Borderlands of Culture: Américo Paredes and the Transnational Imaginary (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006).
(70.) Migrant Imaginaries: Latino Cultural Politics in the U.S.–Mexico Borderlands (New York: New York University Press, 2008).
(71.) Marissa K. López. Chicano Nations: The Hemispheric Origins of Mexican American Literature (New York: New York University Press, 2011).
(72.) Raúl Coronado, A World Not to Come: A History of Latino Writing and Print Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013).
(73.) John Morán González, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Latino/a American Literature (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016), xxv.
(74.) Genaro M. Padilla’sMy History, Not Yours: The Formation of Mexican American Autobiography (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993).
(75.) José F. Aranda, Jr., When We Arrive: A New Literary History of Mexican America (Tucson, University of Arizona Press, 2003).
(76.) John Morán González, Border Renaissance: The Texas Centennial and the Emergence of Mexican American Literature (Austin, University of Texas Press, 2009).
(77.) Marcial González, Chicano Novels and the Politics of Form: Race, Class, and Reification (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009).
(78.) Ralph E. Rodriguez, Brown Gumshoes: Detective Fiction and the Search for Chicana/o Identity (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009).
(79.) Richard T. Rodriguez, Next of Kin: The Family in Chicano/a Cultural Politics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009); and Sandy K. Soto, Reading Chican@ Like a Queer: The De-mastery of Desire (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010).
(80.) Julie Avril Minich, Accessible Citizenships: Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2014).
(81.) José E. Limón, “Transnational Triangulation: Mexico, the United States and the Emergence of a Mexican American Middle Class,” in Mexico and Mexicans in the Making of the United States, ed. John Tutino (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012), 236–256; and Elda María Román, “‘Jesus, When Did You Become So Bourgeois, Huh?’ Status Panic in Chicana/o Cultural Production,” Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 38.2 (Fall 2013): 11–40.
(82.) Randy J. Ontiveros, In the Spirit of a New People: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Movement (New York: New York University Press, 2013).
(83.) John Alba Cutler, Ends of Assimilation: The Formation of Chicano Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).
(84.) Alicia Schmidt Camacho, Migrant Imaginaries: Latino Cultural Politics in the U.S.–Mexico Borderlands (New York: New York University Press, 2008).
(85.) Jayson Gonzales Sae-Saue, Southwest Asia: The Transpacific Geographies of Chicana/o Literature (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2016).
(86.) Sheila Marie Contreras, Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008); Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández, Unspeakable Violence: Remapping U.S. and Mexican National Imaginaries (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011); and María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, Indian Given: Racial Geographies across Mexico and the U.S. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016).
(87.) Early essays characterizing the distinctiveness of this literature include Miguel Algarín’s introduction to the anthology, Nuyorican Poetry: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Words, eds. Miguel Algarín and Miguel Piñero (New York: Morrow, 1975); Felix Cortez’s, Ángel Falcón, and Juan Flores’s “The Cultural Expression of Puerto Ricans in New York City: A Theoretical Perspective and Critical Review” Latin American Perspectives 3.3 (1976); Martín Espada’s “Documentaries and Declamadores: Puerto Rican Poetry in the United States,” in A Gift of Tongues: Critical Challenges in Contemporary American Poetry, eds. Marie Harris and Kathleen Aguero (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987); and Frances Aparicio’s “La vida es un Spanglish disparatero: Bilingualism in Nuyorican Poetry,” in European Perspectives on Hispanic Literature of the United States, ed. Genevieve Fabre (Houston, TX: Arté Publico Press, 1988).
(88.) Juan Flores, From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000); and The Diaspora Strikes Back: Caribeño Tales of Learning and Turning (New York: Routledge, 2008).
(89.) Cuban American Literature of Exile: From Person to Persona (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1998).
(90.) Cuban Palimpsests (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005).
(91.) On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999).
(92.) Writing to Cuba: Filibustering and Cuban Exiles in the United States (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005).
(93.) Translating Empire: José Martí, Migrant Latino Subjects, and American Modernities (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008).
(94.) Cultural Erotics in Cuban America (Minneopolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007).
(95.) Unbecoming Blackness: The Diaspora Cultures of Afro-Cuban America (New York: New York University Press, 2012).
(96.) Desde la diaspora: Selección bilingüe de ensayos/A Diaspora Position: A Bilingual Selection of Essays (New York: Ediciones Alcance, 2003); and “Las tertulias de las escritoras dominicanas de los Estados Unidos: Una historia,” Camino Real: Estudios de las Hispanidades Norteamericanos 3.4 (2011): 53–71.
(97.) “Ensayistas dominicanos,” in Enciclopedia del Español en los Estados Unidos, ed. Humberto López Morales (Madrid: Instituto Cervantes, 2008), 781–784; and “Instituciones y revistas culturales dominicanas,” in Enciclopedia del Español en los Estados Unidos, ed. Humberto López Morales (Madrid: Instituto Cervantes, 2008), 593–596.
(98.) “La literature dominicana en los Estados Unidos y la periferia del margen,” Punto y Coma 3.1–2 (1991): 139–149. Silvio Torres-Saillant and Ramona Hernández, The Dominican Americans (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1998); and Silvio “Dominican-American Literature,” in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, 423–435.
(100.) The Latino/a Canon and the Emergence of Post-Sixties Literature (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
(101.) “Central American-Americans: Invisibility, Power and Representation in the US Latino World,” Latino Studies 1 (2003): 168–187.
(102.) “U.S. Central Americans: Representations, agency and communities,” in Latino Studies 11 (2013): 131–149.
(103.) Dividing the Isthmus: Central American Transnational Histories, Literatures, and Cultures (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009).
(104.) Latining America: Black-Brown Passages and the Coloring of Latino/a Studies (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2013).
(105.) War Echoes: Gender and Militarization in U.S. Latina/o Cultural Production (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2014).
(106.) Suzanne Oboler, “Introduction: Los Que Llegaron: 50 Years of South American Immigration (1950–2000): An Overview,” Latino Studies 3 (2005): 42–52.
(107.) Ambassadors of Culture: The Transamerican Origins of Latino Writing (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001).
(108.) On Latinidad: U.S. Latino Literature and the Construction of Ethnicity (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2007.
(109.) Triangulations: Narrative Strategies for Navigating Latino Identity (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).
(110.) Continental Shifts: Migration, Representation, and the Struggle for Justice in Latin(o) America (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015).
(111.) Jennifer Harford Vargas, “Dictating a Zafa: The Power of Narrative Form in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 39.3 (2014): 8–30.
(112.) Contemporary U.S. Latino/a Literary Criticism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
(113.) Your Brain on Latino Comics: From Gus Arriola to Los Bros Hernandez (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009).
(114.) Chica Lit: Popular Latina Fiction and Americanization in the Twenty-First Century (Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press, 2015).
(115.) Fugitive Thought: Prison Movements, Race, and the Meaning of Justice (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004).
(116.) Native Speakers: Ella Deloria, Zora Neale Hurston, Jovita González, and the Poetics of Culture (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008).
(117.) An Ethics of Betrayal: The Politics of Otherness in Emergent U.S. Literatures and Culture (New York: Fordham University Press, 2009).
(118.) On Making Sense: Queer Race Narratives of Intelligibility (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013).
(119.) The Social Imperative: Race, Close Reading, and Contemporary Literary Criticism (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015).
(120.) The Nature of California: Race, Citizenship, and Farming since the Dust Bowl (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2016).
(121.) Raphael Dalleo and Elena Machado Sáez, “The Formation of a Latino/a Canon,” in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, 387.