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Latina/o Literature

ENGL 070.401
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

This course focuses on the literature written by Latinos/-as, subjects of Latin American and Spanish Caribbean descent living in the U.S. As an introductory survey, we will read a range of texts that shape the category of Latino literature. The final list of authors may include Ana Castillo, Richard Rodriguez, Gustavo Pérez-Firmat, Cristina Garcia, Junot Díaz, Julia Alvarez, Miguel Algarín, Miguel Piñero, and Piri Thomas. Critical essays by Anzaldúa, Saldívar, Flores, Yúdice, among others, will be studied. Films may include Zoot Suit, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, El Súper, West Side Story, Short Eyes, and possibly Machete. Historical and cultural contextualization will be done along with the reading of the literature and films. What will be emphasized is that the Latino writer’s relationship to the departed and affective ‘home nation’ is an ongoing one. So we will explore questions of how the heterogeneous diaspora that comes to be called ‘Latino’ problematizes ideas of race, class, and language in the U.S., but we will also consider how it does so in dialogue with Latin America and the Caribbean. We will read with various questions in mind. Can we formulate a Latino aesthetic? At what point is the Latin American subject a Latino? At what point does a migrant, exile or refugee become part of a diaspora? Terms like “code-switching” and “Spanglish” are part of the vocabulary of Latino life, but how else can we talk about the English(es) of contemporary Latino literature, especially after the event of Junot Díaz? What questions of citizenship, culture, language and consumption are raised by the growing number of Latinos in the U.S.—around 35 million—and again, not only for the U.S., but also for the departed, affective home nation?