English 137T

Topics in Chicana/o Literature and Culture: The Politics of Chicano/a Literature and Film

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2010 Gonzalez, Marcial
Gonzalez, Marcial
MW 12:30-2 300 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Viramontes,  H.: Their Dogs Came With Them; Urrea,  L.: Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life; Rodriguez,  R.: Brown: The Last Discovery of America; Moraga,  C.: Loving in the War Years: Lo Que Nunca Pasó Por Sus Labios; Castillo,  A.: The Guardians: A Novel; Anaya,  R.: Heart of Aztlán; Acosta,  O.: The Revolt of the Cockroach People

Films: I Am Joaquin (1969); Requiem 29 (1971); Please Don't Bury Me Alive (1976); Chicana (1979); Zoot Suit (1981); The Ballad of Tina Juarez (1994); Walkout (2006)


The emergence of Chicano/a literary studies as an academic discipline, along with the production of the first Chicano/a films, coincided historically with the Chicano Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. There is no disputing that the political aims of the movement were promoted by Chicano/a cultural production during those years. The cultural became political, and eventually cultural identity came to be understood as nearly synonymous with radical political consciousness. But to what extent was the prioritizing of culture successful in bringing about political empowerment for Chicanos and Chicanas? Did the importance given to culture via literature and film help realize the movement's aspirations for social change? What has been the impact of this "cultural turn" from forty years ago on Chicano/a cultural production today? In this course we will study several literary works and films produced by Chicanos and Chicanas over the past four decades to examine their assumptions about the role of literature and culture in developing political consciousness and building social movements. But we will also pay close attention to the ways in which these works imagine (or don't imagine) resolutions to the social contradictions they represent--and to their critical views of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and national origin. Students will be required to read selected essays of literary and film theory to assist in analyzing the specific primary works we study. The film list is subject to change.

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