The trans-American literature of empire and revolution, 1880-1938

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During the period of 1880-1938, Latina/o writers such as José Martí, Manuel Zeno Gandía, Julia de Burgos, Salomón de la Selva, María Cristina Mena, Daniel Venegas, and William Carlos Williams addressed readers in English or Spanish and in print venues at various sites throughout the Americas, thereby constructing literary exchanges within what we have come to think of as a trans-American field. Following Kirsten Silva Gruesz, Anna Brickhouse, and José David Saldívar, we may define the field that contains these disparate writers of Latin American origin as “trans-American,” as the scope and anti-imperialist angle of their texts demand a term more partial and limited than “pan-American,” “transnational,” or “hemispheric” labels that have gained currency in U.S. American Studies. Moreover, the term “trans-American” requires attention to the process of cultural translation involved in writing about the United States in Spanish or about Mexico or Nicaragua in English, or in more conventionally moving across languages, or interpreting North America from a perspective informed by Latin American and Latina/o cultural formations. Transamerican Latina/o literature of this period thus provides a story of migratory routes rather than the root of a single nation and pushes Latina/o literary studies toward comparative methodologies that attend to language difference and multiple national cultures within the United States. During the turn from the nineteenth century to the twentieth, the moving borders of empire and people migrating from Latin America to the United States set latinidad in motion, not only along the border that delineated the United States from Mexico after 1848 but also in the context of migration from the Hispanic Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America as a result of U.S. imperial intervention in the first decades of the twentieth century. While migratory sojourners have long figured as contributors to the formation and innovation of national literatures and especially to the emergence of modernismo in Spanish and of modernism in English, the recovery of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Latina/o writing through the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project has made it possible to read foundational texts of multiple national traditions simultaneously as defining the parameters and preoccupations of Latina/o literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Latina/o American Literature
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781107045385
ISBN (Print)9781107044920
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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