Date of Award

Spring 2000

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Bates, Milton J.

Second Advisor

Machan, Tim W.

Third Advisor

Hribal, C.J.

Abstract

My dissertation studies why several bilingual writers in Chicana/o literary history-specifically, Jose Antonio Villarreal, Raymond Barrio, Rudolfo Anaya, Sandra Cisneros, and Gloria Anzaldua-mix Spanish and English and use unconventional form within otherwise standard English-language prose. My project takes a different direction from previous, more sociolinguistic studies by examining how "play" with language and innovations of form function rhetorically in their texts. I argue that their mixing of linguistic and cultural elements effectively crosses borders of language and culture, critiques the dominant Anglo culture, inscribes intercultural tensions, and seeks syncretism between competing notions of ethnic identity. In each of these purposes, the writers I have studied draw upon a traditional figure of devotion in the Mexican-American community, La Virgen de Guadalupe, as a paragon of successful cultural negotiation. In Chicana/o culture, La Virgen functions not only as a mediator between humans and God, but also as an embodiment of both Spanish and Amerindian spiritual traditions the Virgin Mary of the European church imbued with her pre-Conquest predecessors, Aztec goddesses of fertility and creation. By bringing together cultures in conflict she offers for modern Chicana/o authors, each of whom relate to her uniquely, a model of "border crossing" that their bilingual, formally innovative writing performs.

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