Having grown substantially over the past two decades as an institutional presence and in methodological sophistication, the field of Latina/o American literature has coalesced sufficiently to require its own literary history. By this adjective “Latina/o” American, we refer to literature by writers of Latin American and Caribbean origin who find themselves annexed or incorporated into the United States (as in the case of Puerto Rico and the formerly northern half of Mexico), or who have migrated or descended from exiled or immigrant Hispanic, Latin American, and/or Caribbean peoples residing outside their place of origin. Initially starting as disparate community-supported research staking claims to institutional resources through literary manifestoes during the 1960s (e.g., Chicano studies and Puerto Rican studies), what now circulates as Latina/o American literary history has not only expanded to include the writing of numerous and influential Latina/o groups such as Cuban Americans, Dominican Americans, and U.S.-based Central and South Americans, but has also shifted from its originally narrow national foci into new critical conversations with American, Latin American, and other interdisciplinary and diasporic literary histories. The scholarly conversations across these fields have raised questions about the “when” and “where” of any ethno-racial literary history and the nationalist or idealist narratives that have tended to organize them. The long-awaited chicken to the egg of Latina/o literary anthologies that began to circulate in the last two decades (Herencia, published by Oxford University Press in 2002 and the Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2011)), this first major Latina/o literary history of its kind has a sustained focus on the categories of race, class, gender, and sexuality that came to the fore in struggles for representation, and that remain urgent for this field. Their intersections generate a significant imperative for inquiry as bodies classified as “Hispanic or Latina/o” now constitute the largest, economically, and politically disenfranchised “minority” in the United States. This rapidly growing U.S. demographic is set to displace a longstanding “non-Hispanic white” majority in the pecking order of ethno-racial groups by the mid-twenty-first century. “Hispanic or Latina/o” remains the problematic label for a multilingual, multiracial, and mobile force with a long history in the Americas that has required the development of distinct analytics and methodologies for bringing into focus a new literary history.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities(all)