An introduction to the rise of contemporary Chicana writing
Understanding Contemporary Chicana Literature explores the work of six notable authors to reveal characteristic themes, images, and stylistic devices that make contemporary Chicana writing a vibrant and innovative part of a burgeoning Latina creativity. Describing Chicana literature as a quest for self-definition, Deborah L. Madsen provides close readings of the poetry, prose, novels, and short fiction of Bernice Zamora, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Denise Chávez, Alma Luz Villanueva, and Lorna Dee Cervantes. Madsen identifies the historical, social, and feminist ties among these writers and examines in detail the development of a distinctive feminine ethnic-racial voice.
In her assessment of this literature's place in the contemporary renaissance of ethnic women's writing, Madsen explains its context, including the definitions of such key terms as "Chicano" and "Chicana," the historical relationship between the civil rights movement and the Chicano movement, and the relationship between feminism and Chicana literary expression. Madsen analyzes the concerns shared by these authors, including hybrid cultural identity and the experience of fragmentary subjectivity; the patriarchal control of feminine sexuality; memory and inherited feminine role models such as La Virgen, La Malinche, and La Llorona; the connection between gender oppression and racial and class oppression; and the use of innovative literary forms.
Deborah L. Madsen is a professor of English at South Bank University in London. She has published extensively on American literature of the colonial and modern periods. Her books include American Exceptionalism; Allegory in America: From Puritanism to Postmodernism; Postmoderism: A Bibliography; Rereading Allegory: A Narrative Approach to Genre; and The Postmodernist Allegories of Thomas Pynchon. She is the editor of Post-Colonial Literatures: Expanding the Canon; Visions of America Since 1492; and several volumes of The Year's Work in English Studies. Madsen lives in Cambridge, England.