English 100

Junior Seminar: Chicano/a Novels and the Law

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2008 Gonzalez, Marcial
Gonzalez, Marcial
MW 9:30-11 305 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Gaspar de Alba, A.: Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders; Corpi, L.: Cactus Blood; Vea, A.: Gods Go Begging; Maya-Murray, Y.: Locas; Acosta, O. Z.: The Revolt of the Cockroach People and The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo; Ruiz, R.: Happy Birthday Jesus and Big Bear; Villanueva, A. L.: Naked Ladies; L�pez, I. H.: Racism on Trial: The Chicano Fight for Justice


This course will examine representations of working-class characters and their encounters with the law in several Chicana and Chicano novels. Some of these novels were written by lawyers. Others are narrated from the perspective of a lawyer. All of them are about interpreting, challenging or breaking the law in one way or another. In this course, we will be concerned with the following questions: What is significant about the centrality of the law in these novels? What are the social and formal implications of novels narrated by a lawyer? What distinguishes the narratives of characters who are disciplined by the law from those who take defiant stances against the legal system? What do the representations of legal struggles reveal about history, class power and racialization? Do these novels represent realistic conditions, or do they reinforce stereotypes about Chicanos and the law? We will support our reading of the novels in this course with a fair amount of secondary reading. Assignments may include two papers, an exam, and an in-class presentation. A percentage of your grade will be based on participation.

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