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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2009

E 314V • Mexican American Literature and Culture

Unique Days Time Location Instructor


Course Description

Please refer to the course schedule for course days, time, room location, prerequisites and possible cross-listings:

The term "Mexican American" is one that encompasses a large and growing body of “minority” people in the United States. It falls on a spectrum of labels that includes “Hispanic,” “Latina/o,” and “Chicana/o,” all of which approximate identifications of a culturally diverse and politically potent group of people in this country. As this spectrum of identification suggests, Mexican American (or Chicano) culture is neither monolithic nor homogeneous. In this introduction to Mexican American literature and popular culture, we will examine a multiplicity of cultural productions in order to explore the varieties of lived experience that might be identified as Mexican American or Chicano.

The formal qualities of Chicano/Mexican American literature depend upon a knowledge not only of the history of Chicano/Mexican American peoples in the United States but also of the cultural products—such as music, film, food, and style—that come to inform the lives and lifestyles of Chicanos/Mexican-Americans. Thus, we'll examine the formal aspects of literature, song, and film even as we discuss the ways in which each impinges, historically and culturally, on the meanings encoded in the others. As the course will be ordered according to genre we will, for example, begin by looking at the relationship between early Tejano and Mexican corridos and the poetry of Américo Paredes and the early Chicano activist, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez as well as how, in turn, Chicana activists later revised and re-voiced those singing styles with poetic styles of their own. We’ll continue to examine the role that song as an expressive medium plays in fiction; however, we’ll perform a more focused study of the role of ancient and contemporary Mexican/Mexican-American folklore in the study of short fiction. Finally, we’ll examine filmic constructions of Mexican-American identity alongside coming-of-age novels by authors of Mexican heritage. The course will thus seek to interweave literary and cultural criticism with those stories, in whatever medium, that inform Mexican American/Chicano experience. The critical and scholarly methods students learn in the course, as well as its emphasis on their own critical writing, will help to prepare students for success as majors in English or other fields.

Grading Policy

4 Short Papers, 20%, 1 Final Synthesis Paper, 25%, Course Web Discussion Participation, 10%, Micro-themed Reading Responses, 20%, Mid-Term, 25%


Selections from Américo Paredes, Between Two Worlds; Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzalez, Yo Soy Joaquín; Américo Paredes, George Washington Gómez; Selections from José Griego y Maestas & Rudolfo Anaya, Cuentos: Tales from the Hispanic Southwest; Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/La Frontera; Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories; Selections from Sandra Cisneros, Loose Woman, Ray Gonzalez, The Ghost of John Wayne and Other Stories and Helena María Viramontes, The Moths and Other Stories; Michele Serros, Chicana Falsa


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