Date of Award

1-1-2009

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Jorge Camacho

Abstract

Latin American literary theory has developed in the face of identity crises arising throughout its history as critics, theorists, and writers attempt to identify what is truly "Latin American" and not merely the imitation of works and importing of ideas from First World colonizing powers. Latin American feminist criticism, gathering momentum as an official movement shortly after that of the United States, has met similar problems in its effort to extricate itself from U.S., French, and English models. This body of criticism has been forced to acknowledge its own participation in the silencing and categorization of women and its lack of theory as an inherent problem in the criticism of its own female writers. Critics like Debra A. Castillo have noted that theory following from practice is, in fact, an intrinsic characteristic of Latin American feminist writings; however, they have also attempted to move toward theory building in recent years. Castillo's book Talking Back: Toward a Latin American Feminist Literary Criticsm (1992) notes the indebtedness of writers to early European and American feminist theorists, but also attempts to delineate strategies of resistance that Latin American feminist texts share. Other Latin American critics have championed such an approach that draws from foundational works in feminist theory where applicable, but also does not force Latin American writings into these molds. This study does not add to the number of strategies that Castillo presented but combines three--silence, negation, and the subjunctive mood--to demonstrate how multiple texts employ multiple strategies to achieve a larger goal for individual and collective agency. Moreover, I look to broaden the reach of Castillo's strategies to include texts published by Latin American women on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. Though disparate in form, content, and cultural background, Cola de lagartija (1983), Novela negra con argentinos (1990), The House on Mango Street (1984), and Caramelo (2002) studied in conjunction have revealed similarities as well as differences in their feminist discourse that can provide direction for further studies.

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