American Literary Studies faculty member, Dr. Jesse Alemán, has published “The Diachronics of Difference: Chicano Narrative Then, Now, and before Chicanidad” as the lead chapter in Bridges, Borders, and Breaks: History, Narrative, and Nation in Twenty-First Century Chicana/o Literary Criticism (Eds. Orchard and Padilla, U of Pittsburg Press, 2016). Bridges, Borders, and Breaks is a volume that assesses the field of Chicana/o literary studies in light of the rise of Latina/o studies, the recovery of a large body of early literature by Mexican Americans, and the transnational turn in American studies. Using Ramón Saldívar’s landmark work Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference as their starting point, the chapters reveal how the term “Chicano” defines a literary critical sensibility as well as a political one, and show how this view can yield new insights about the status of Mexican Americans, the legacies of colonialism, and the ongoing prospects for social justice. In these essays, Chicano/a literary representations emerge as significant examples of the local that interrogate globalization’s attempts to erase difference. They also highlight how Chicano/a literary studies interests in racial justice and the minority experience have produced important intersections with new disciplines such as Latino Studies and Critical Ethnic Studies, while also retaining a distinctive character. The re-calibration of Chicano/a literary studies in light of these shifts raises important methodological and disciplinary questions, which these essays address as they outline the new tools required for the study of Chicano/a literature at this critical juncture. Alemán’s article assesses the ground-breaking impact Ramón Saldívar’s book had on the field of Chicano/a literary studies at the time of the book’s publication and in the 25 years since its release. Read Alemán’s leading chapter in Bridges, Borders, and Breaks when you get the book here or on Amazon.
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