Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Bordering Borders: Gender Politics and Contemporary Latina Literature

I approach the field of American Literature as a comparative one that includes Latina literature with hemispheric or world perspectives that differ from Anglo-European worldviews. In my examination of Latina literature I note that Latinas/os are not part of a new or emerging literature in the Americas but in fact Latinas/os are one of the original American writers not because they crossed the border into the U.S. but because the border crossed them (Flores 612). Therefore, I draw upon the growing body of work that focuses on the Latina/o writer as one who precedes the Anglo-American tradition. The works I address specifically in my dissertation focus on the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. These contemporary works are written by U.S.-based Latinas who write in English and Spanish. My dissertation, entitled Bordering Borders: Gender Politics and Contemporary Latina Literature, examines and critiques theories of border crossing in this body of literature. Using border theory and border crossing as a thematic link across chapters, my dissertation focuses on linguistic, familial, and geographic borders and the implications of these theoretical positions with regard to Latina women. I juxtapose Mexican American women writers and Caribbean origin women writers which allows me to apply (U.S. and Latin American) feminist theory to my project providing a double lens by which to more fully understand the implications of Latina literature in the U.S. This project is one of only a handful of thorough treatments of border theory and feminist thought. Second, there are many studies that focus on specific nationalities or ethnic identities such as works on Chicanas, Cuban Americans, or Puerto Ricans, but this comprehensive project considers, compares, and contrasts a wide range of Latina ethnicities and nationalities in a dialogic manner juxtaposing Chicana (Mexican American) and Caribbean origin Latina writers in each chapter. Finally, these two groups, while included in pan-Latina studies that are not gender specific, are not examined in dialogue with one another extensively in critical discourse. Hence this dissertation contributes to scholarship in the field by adding a new perspective to the existing U.S. Latina literary criticism from a pan-Latina and feminist framework.