The New Border

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This course is a study of the literature of the U.S.-Mexico border from the 1980s to the present. We begin with Gloria Anzaldúa’s foundational texts, Borderlands / La Frontera, and her landmark feminist anthology, co-edited with Cherríe Moraga, This Bridge Called My Back: Radical Writings by Women of Color. We then consider the legacies and afterlives of this body of work in more recent literature, from Roberto Bolaño’s obsession with femicide and the borderlands to Carmen Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft, Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, and Valeria Luiselli’s The Lost Children Archive. We’ll also spend significant time with contemporary poets, including Daniel Borzutzky, Juan Felipe Herrera, Valerie Martínez, Wendy Trevino, and Javier Zamora. How does this literature understand the changing dynamics of what scholar John Alba Cutler calls “the new border,” a zone defined by an increasingly punitive regime of militarization, criminalization, mass detention and mass deportation? How does this literature disclose the structures of relation that underlie the mediation and spectacularization of the border? How does it respond to the ideologies of white supremacy and anti-Mexican and anti-Latino racism? More basically, what theories and methods of reading does the literature of the new border demand? Where does it direct our attention? While our main focus will be on how the literature of the new border asks us to think about the U.S.-Mexico border, we will conclude by examining how this literature has changed as the border zone has expanded into Central and South America—and beyond. With this final turn, we will extend our examination to recent work that explores the nature of the relationship between the United States and the Americas.


Humanities Commons

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