Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Before You Do The Anzaldua Reading:

By coincidence I happened to just have read and given a presentation on "Borderlands/La Frontera" in my Gender and Literature class. While doing research for my presentation, I stumbled upon an interview with Anzaldua that reminded me of the discussion we had last class regarding Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s article. Anzaldua had just finished explaining her frustration with the way Borderlands is taught in colleges and high schools, claiming that they leave the angrier parts of the story out. The question and answer following her explanation of frustration is what reminded me of our discussion of Gates:

"Interviewer: The task, therefore, is to keep the traditional approaches in mind somehow but don't stay there, right?

G.A.: Yes, that's it. It is the same kind of struggle mestizas have living at the borders, living in the borderlands. How much do they assimilate to the while culture and how much do we resist and risk becoming isolated in the culture and ghettoized? This issue applies to everything."*

This is the same dilemma that Gates spoke of in his article about black writers. How much of one's culture must one sacrifice in order to be received by the literary elite? This is an interesting thing to keep in mind for the Anzaldua piece we were assigned to read for tomorrow. The language and genre shifting text seems to challenge this notion of "holding back one's culture" as Anzaldua pushes the boundaries of texts that has been received critically. Providing no english translations, Anzaldua will switch between english and spanish without warning and without regret. Some entire pages are taken by the language shift, and only meant to be understood by those who speak the native tongue. She feels that the best way to represent the things that she says is through spanish, so she makes no sacrifices and does so.

The book was still received very well by the public, but she says that the way it is being taught is not in the way that she had wished. So, in Anzaldua's case, by ignoring the assimilation into the "white culture" Anzaldua did not sacrifice critical reception, but rather critical misunderstanding. I'm not sure which is worse, but both seem to be unfortunate poisons for the "minority literature" writer.

*The interview can be found in the back of the Third Edition of the Aunt Lute Books publication.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, Andrew, I'm totally calling you out here. Why, why, why didn't you bring this up in class!?!?!

    You can expect a barrage of question from me on next Tuesday. Get prepared. It's on.