My first book, Ends of Assimilation: The Formation of Chicano Literature (Oxford, 2015), examines how Chicana/o literary texts in a variety of genres portray processes of assimilation, including linguistic change, residential integration, intermarriage, and other forms of cultural adaptation. I show how popular conceptions of assimilation arise from the influential milieu of the Chicago School of sociology in the early twentieth century. These early sociological accounts of assimilation have an admirable anti-racist impulse behind them, but they also install several blind spots into assimilation discourse, including the absence of any attention to gender and sexuality and a misplaced sense of American cultural homogeneity. By contrast, texts such as Américo Paredes’s George Washington Gómez, Arturo Islas’s The Rain God, Sandra Cisneros’s My Wicked Wicked Ways, Jimmy Santiago Baca’s Martín & Meditations on the South Valley, and Helena María Viramontes’s Their Dogs Came with Them, among many others, show how changes in culture happen in anxious, uneven, and contradictory terms. Most importantly, I show how the field of Chicana/o literature emerges in the 1960s and 1970s via literary institutions–particularly universities and independent publishing houses–formulated to combat the damaging effects of social science discourses about Mexican Americans. Unlike early sociologists of assimilation, Chicana/o writers do not assume to be merely documenting culture, but rather producing and changing it.
Ends of Assimilation has been reviewed in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Literature & History, and the ALH Online Review. I was also hosted by David-James Gonzales on the New Books in Latino Studies podcast for a conversation about the book in 2016. Check it out here.
My interest in literary institutions has led me to my second book project, Invisible Hands: Print Culture, Class, and Latino Modernism, which begins from the premise that newspapers and magazines were the most important literary institutions for US Latinx communities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Building on the work of other scholars of Spanish-language print culture–including Kirsten Silva Gruesz, Raúl Coronado, Rodrigo Lazo, and Laura Lomas–I construct a framework for reading the tens of thousands of literary texts published in Spanish-language newspapers and magazines during this time period. I am particularly interested in how these texts both participate in transamerican currents of modernism (and modernismo) and produce their own, multifarious notions of what it means to be modern. This research has an ongoing digital component, as well, in the form of the website Mapping Latinx Modernism, which seeks to introduce newcomers to this archive.
ARTICLES AND BOOK CHAPTERS
My essay “Rubén Darío, Latino Poet” will appear in the Fall 2018 special issue of English Language Notes on “Latinx Lives in a Hemispheric Context.” I also have a short essay titled “Was There a US Latino Modernism?” appearing in the modernism/modernity Print Plus platform later this year. These two essays give some indication of the my current research interests.
I am also thrilled to have an essay titled “Rosá Alcalá’s Aesthetics of Alienation” appearing in the forthcoming volume American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement (Wesleyan). Preorder here.
In 2017 my essay “Borders and Borderlands Literature” appeared in the Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature, edited by Yogita Goyal.
In 2016 my article “Toward a Reading of Nineteenth-Century Latino/a Short Fiction” appeared in The Latino Nineteenth Century (NYU), edited by Rodrigo Lazo and Jesse Alemán.
Also in 2016 my essay “Chicano Narrative‘s Hidden Print Cultures” was published in the volume Bridges, Borders, and Breaks: History, Narrative, and Nation in Twenty-First-Century Chicana/o Literary Criticism, edited by Yolanda Padilla and William Orchard.