Date of Thesis

Spring 2019

Thesis Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Major

English

Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration

Literary Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Elena Machado Sáez

Keywords

latinx literature, contemporary fiction, popular culture, representation

Abstract

This thesis examines contemporary Latinx authors’ use of popular cultural and generic allusions to challenge limiting labels that audiences place on their fiction. Confronting readings that privilege Latinx literature as either imbued with the political rigor of the 1960s’ Civil Rights Movement or an assimilationist attitude, I argue that these writers deliberately appropriate images and tropes familiar to Anglo-American readers to assure success in the literary marketplace while challenging their readers’ expected conclusions. My first chapter analyzes Sandra Cisneros’s reimagining of popular U.S. figures in light of ethnic storytelling practices in her 2002 novel Caramelo. The second chapter examines the absent latinidad and Horror tropes of Carmen Maria Machado’s 2017 short story collection Her Body and Other Parties. My third chapter assesses the use of postmodernist literary conventions and the presence of Rita Hayworth in Salvador Plascencia’s 2005 debut The People of Paper. These Latinxs introduce an alternative politics through their fiction; their latinidad is neither a reminder of their integration into the white mainstream nor an inescapable marker of their ethnicity. Instead, these texts call for a reconsideration of what comprises the Latinx literary tradition by rehistoricizing the popular consciousness of the United States.

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