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Brown on Brown

Brown on Brown

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    Brown on Brown
    Book Description:

    Common conceptions permeating U.S. ethnic queer theory tend to confuse aesthetics with real-world acts and politics. Often Chicano/a representations of gay and lesbian experiences in literature and film are analyzed simply as propaganda. The cognitive, emotional, and narrational ingredients (that is, the subject matter and the formal traits) of those representations are frequently reduced to a priori agendas that emphasize a politics of difference.

    In this book, Frederick Luis Aldama follows an entirely different approach. He investigates the ways in which race and gay/lesbian sexuality intersect and operate in Chicano/a literature and film while taking into full account their imaginative nature and therefore the specific kind of work invested in them. Also, Aldama frames his analyses within today's larger (globalized) context of postcolonial literary and filmic canons that seek to normalize heterosexual identity and experience. Throughout the book, Aldama applies his innovative approach to throw new light on the work of authors Arturo Islas, Richard Rodriguez, John Rechy, Ana Castillo, and Sheila Ortiz Taylor, as well as that of film director Edward James Olmos. In doing so, Aldama aims to integrate and deepen Chicano literary and filmic studies within a comparative perspective. Aldama's unusual juxtapositions of narrative materials and cultural personae, and his premise that literature and film produce fictional examples of a social and historical reality concerned with ethnic and sexual issues largely unresolved, make this book relevant to a wide range of readers.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79658-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Narrative, Sexuality, Race, and the Self
    (pp. 1-20)

    My subject here is sex, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, and the self. Notwithstanding its multifaceted difficulties and complexities, I see it as a joyous, lively, complex, frequently surprising, and altogether gratifyingly controversial topic. One that has been treated in literature, cinema, and the arts from every angle of vision and from all ideological perspectives and yet remains as fresh and as inexhaustible as ever. One that bears a very close and concrete relationship with every aspect of our social existence, activity, and status and that is nonetheless often concealed or shut away in the private sphere or approached in mainly “universal,”...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Querying Postcolonial and Borderland Queer Theory
    (pp. 21-46)

    InBrown: The Last Discovery of America, literary agent provocateur Richard Rodriguez renders visible his experiences as queer and Chicano in a so-identified post-Protestant/Catholic postcolonial Americas. In his trademark fast-paced and highly stylized journalese mode, Rodriguez textures an identity he variously dubs asbrownand “third man” (125) that occupies “the passing lane in American demographics” (125). In his creative autobiographical reinvention, he appears as a shape-shifter of sorts who inhabits the slipstreams of a third space that is neither black nor white but queer “Catholic Indian Spaniard” (35). The Rodriguez ofBrownis a Chicano queer subject who is...

  6. CHAPTER 2 John Rechy′s Bending of Brown and White Canons
    (pp. 47-72)

    In 1963 John Rechy published his runaway bestsellerCity of Night, introducing the American critics and readers alike to a fictionalized American demimonde. As guide into America’s cities at night, Rechy invented the unnamed, biracial (Mexican/Scottish) and bisexual protagonist from the bordertown El Paso. SinceCity of Night, Rechy has introduced his readers to dozens of other similar self-identifying characters. In spite of his long-standing emplotment of such ethnosexualized characters, however, Rechy has been traditionally identified as part of a Grove Press avant-garde—and not as a key player in the shaping of contemporary Chicano/a letters.

    The identification of Rechy...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Arturo Islas′s and Richard Rodriguez′s Ethnosexual Re-architexturing of Metropolitan Space
    (pp. 73-88)

    InLa Mollie and the King of TearsandDays of Obligationrespectively, novelist Arturo Islas and journalist Richard Rodriguez pen homographic texts that queer the contemporary Chicano/a and mainstream U.S. textual landscape. Islas and Rodriguez create first-person narrating subjects—a smooth-talking pachuco, Louie Mendoza, for Islas and a hesitantly vulnerable yet penetratingly bold self-as-narrator for Rodriguez—who journey through world city-scapes to destabilize zones of racial and sexual control, then reinhabit such zones sans a North vs. South, straight vs. bent oppositionality. The authors Rodriguez and Islas engage and disengage with narrative convention in their fictionalizing of metropolitan spaces...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Ana Castillo′s and Sheila Ortiz Taylor′s Bent Chicana Textualities
    (pp. 89-113)

    U.S.-dwelling Chicana authors have come into their belle lettres own. Since the 1980s, names like Ana Castillo, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Denise Chávez, Sandra Cisneros, Lucha Corpi, Pat Mora, Cecile Pineda, Mary Helen Ponce, and Helena María Viramontes, to mention a few, have become regular sights at mainstream bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble across the country. This is not a result of some deus ex machina intervention. Increased visibility is the result of much thumping on the doors of corporate book editors and mainstream agents by Chicana, Nuyorican, Cuban, and Dominican women writers for decades prior to their renaissance in...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Edward J. Olmos′s Postcolonial Penalizings of the Film-Image Repertoire
    (pp. 114-136)

    In March of 1992, Chicano actor Edward James Olmos released his directorial debut,American Me. In this film, Olmos opened cinemagoers’ eyes to the multilayered terrain—psychological, sexual, social—in his creative representation of a Chicano youth turned gangbanger in East L.A. As the film unfolds, Olmos (as director and as the story’s protagonist) begins to break new ground in Chicano cinema by revealing the Chicano subject’s internalizing of neocolonial models of oppression. Olmos’s interweaving of connotative and denotative detail both at the level of the story (plot, characters, events, themes) and at the level of the telling (the cinematic...

  10. CONCLUSION: Re-visioning Chicano/a Bodies and Texts
    (pp. 137-148)

    In this concluding chapter, I want to return to several issues raised (directly and indirectly) throughoutBrown on Brown. As I’ve already discussed at some length in Chapter 1, there are some critical entanglements that inform much of U.S. (borderland and postcolonial queer) cultural and literary studies today. There is the conflation of the fiction of narrative with the facts of our everyday existence. There is the fusion of cultural studies scholarship with political activism. There is the conflation of en masse resistance to real sites of power with individual acts of resistance based on identity politics. However, as I’ve...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 149-158)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 159-168)
  13. Index
    (pp. 169-176)