Understanding Contemporary Chicana Literature

Overview

Understanding Contemporary Chicana Literature explores the work of six notable authors to reveal characteristic themes, images, and stylistic devices that make contemporary Chicana writing a vibrant and innovative part of a burgeoning Latina creativity. Describing Chicana literature as a quest for self-definition, Deborah L. Madsen provides close readings of the poetry, prose, novels, and short fiction of Bernice Zamora, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Denise Chávez, Alma Luz Villanueva, and Lorna Dee Cervantes. ...
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Overview

Understanding Contemporary Chicana Literature explores the work of six notable authors to reveal characteristic themes, images, and stylistic devices that make contemporary Chicana writing a vibrant and innovative part of a burgeoning Latina creativity. Describing Chicana literature as a quest for self-definition, Deborah L. Madsen provides close readings of the poetry, prose, novels, and short fiction of Bernice Zamora, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Denise Chávez, Alma Luz Villanueva, and Lorna Dee Cervantes. Madsen identifies the historical, social, and feminist ties among these writers and examines in detail the development of a distinctive feminine ethnic-racial voice.

In her assessment of this literature’s place in the contemporary renaissance of ethnic women’s writing, Madsen explains its context, including the definitions of such key terms as "Chicano" and "Chicana," the historical relationship between the civil rights movement and the Chicano movement, and the relationship between feminism and Chicana literary expression. Madsen analyzes the concerns shared by these authors, including hybrid cultural identity and the experience of fragmentary subjectivity; the patriarchal control of feminine sexuality; memory and inherited feminine role models such as La Virgen, La Malinche, and La Llorona; the connection between gender oppression and racial and class oppression; and the use of innovative literary forms.

About the Author:
Deborah L. Madsen is a professor of English at South Bank University in London. She has published extensively on American literature of the colonial and modern periods. Her books include American Exceptionalism; Allegory in America: From Puritanism to Postmodernism; Postmoderism: A Bibliography; Rereading Allegory: A Narrative Approach to Genre; and The Postmodernist Allegories of Thomas Pynchon. She is the editor of Post-Colonial Literatures: Expanding the Canon; Visions of America Since 1492; and several volumes of The Year’s Work in English Studies. Madsen lives in Cambridge, England.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This critique of the work of six contemporary Mexican American writers and poets--Ana Castillo, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Denise Ch vez, Sandra Cisneros, Alma Luz Villanueva, and Bernice Zamora--helps define a quickly growing literary movement. In addition to offering insights into the works of these women, Madsen (English, South Bank Univ., U.K.) details the history and motives behind "the Chicana Renaissance," a literary movement emerging from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Madsen distinguishes the social and political concerns of Chicanas from those of Chicanos, other minority males, and "Anglo" feminists. She shows how the Chicana is abandoned in the split between mainstream feminism and the male-dominated minority movements that, according to Madsen, have ignored the social problems of the minority female. In response, Chicanas have invented new literary norms to reflect their experiences. Madsen presents numerous examples from each author's work to elaborate these ideas. This book should engage students and anyone interested in contemporary social and gender issues, themes of women and environment, and new literary norms. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.--Nedra C. Evers, Sacramento P.L., CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Understanding Contemporary Chicana Literature uses the works of six notable Chicana authors to reveal common themes, images and concerns which make their writing part of a larger growing Latina community of work. Prose, novels, poetry and short works of Bernize Zamora, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Denise Chavez, Alma Luz Villanueva and Lorna Dee Cervantes are considered in an assessment essential to any ethnic collection.
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