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Border Renaissance

Border Renaissance

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    Border Renaissance
    Book Description:

    The Texas Centennial of 1936, commemorated by statewide celebrations of independence from Mexico, proved to be a powerful catalyst for the formation of a distinctly Mexican American identity. Confronted by a media frenzy that vilified "Meskins" as the antithesis of Texan liberty, Mexican Americans created literary responses that critiqued these racialized representations while forging a new bilingual, bicultural community within the United States. The development of a modern Tejana identity, controversies surrounding bicultural nationalism, and other conflictual aspects of the transformation from mexicano to Mexican American are explored in this study. Capturing this fascinating aesthetic and political rebirth, Border Renaissance presents innovative readings of important novels by María Elena Zamora O'Shea, Américo Paredes, and Jovita González. In addition, the previously overlooked literary texts by members of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) are given their first detailed consideration in this compelling work of intellectual and literary history.

    Drawing on extensive archival research in the English and Spanish languages, John Morán González revisits the 1930s as a crucial decade for the vibrant Mexican American reclamation of Texas history. Border Renaissance pays tribute to this vital turning point in the Mexican American struggle for civil rights.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79353-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. INTRODUCTION Renaissance in the Borderlands
    (pp. 1-28)

    The Texas Centennial of 1936 was an unlikely watershed in the development of Mexican American literature. The huge statewide celebration of the independence of Texas from Mexico in 1836 sparked an outpouring of literature from the one group of Texans arguably most marginalized by the event: Texas Mexicans.¹ The media frenzy that blanketed the state with innumerable paeans to the Anglo-Texan heroes of the Alamo and San Jacinto resounded in the ears of Texas Mexicans like a reproach and a goad. The reproach lay in the Centennial’s racialized representations of Mexicans as the main obstacle to Anglo-Texan freedom in the...

  5. CHAPTER 1 “Texanizing Texans”: Texas Centennial Discourses of Racial Pedagogy
    (pp. 29-66)

    In early May 1935, mere months before the formal observance of the Texas Centennial, a lieutenant and thirteen other sailors from the German cruiser Karlsruhe laid a wreath inside the Alamo to commemorate the “memory of Texas heroes” who had died there almost a century earlier (“German Sailors,” 5). Commanded by Captain Gunter Lutjens, the Karlsruhe was on a globe-spanning training cruise and goodwill mission on behalf of the Nazi regime. After sailing through the Panama Canal and reaching Houston, the men from the Karlsruhe visited several Texas cities, including San Antonio, as part of a weeklong publicity campaign. State...

  6. CHAPTER 2 “This Is Our Grand Lone Star State”: Reclaiming Texas History in María Elena Zamora O’Shea’s El Mesquite
    (pp. 67-94)

    In the midst of an old grove of live oak and mesquite trees alongside Highway 77 in Kenedy County stands a massive granite slab with a bronze plaque stained by the sun and rain of many years. Over the seven decades since its erection for the Texas Centennial of 1936, people traveling between the lower Rio Grande Valley and Corpus Christi have paused at the adjoining rest stop, perhaps taking a moment to glance at the raised letters of the roadside marker’s inscription:

    Under this tree

    General Zachary Taylor

    commanding the Expeditionary Army of

    the United States sent to Texas...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Forging Bicultural U.S. Citizenship: LULAC and the Making of Mexican American Aesthetics
    (pp. 95-126)

    The knock-knock joke received a Mexican American makeover in the LULAC News for December 1936, the issue that closed out the Centennial year. This example from a hoary genre might pass as unremarkable except for the bilingual, bicultural subject it posits as the condition of its own intelligibility. At first glance, the language and the very genre itself presumed a familiarity with English and the popular culture of the United States, yet these are insufficient to comprehend the humor invoked. Understanding the punch line involved not only knowing another language—Spanish—but also the popular colloquialism known throughout Greater Mexico...

  8. CHAPTER 4 A Mexico-Texan Interlude: Américo Paredes, Border Modernity, and the Demise of Patriarchal Anticolonialism
    (pp. 127-156)

    There is a modernist moment in Américo Paredes’s novel George Washington Gómez that almost escapes attention yet powerfully captures the vexed intersection of aesthetics, modernity, and patriarchal anticolonialism vital to his vision of Texas-Mexican culture during the 1930s. An epistemological vertigo overcomes the title character when his unwed sister Maruca’s pregnancy, resulting from an illicit liaison with an Anglo-Texan, precipitates a traumatic crisis that threatens to tear the Gómez family apart. Witnessing his mother beating his sister for compromising family honor, the teenaged Guálinto experiences this scene of domestic violence as a rupture with familiar reality that leaves “the world...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Mujeres Fronterizas: Writing Tejana Agency into the Texas Centennial Era
    (pp. 157-192)

    In the issue of the LULAC News for March 1939 an article titled “Doña Paula Losoya, Great Pioneer of Del Rio” introduced readers to yet another Texas-Mexican historical figure overlooked by Anglo-centric Centennial discourses. Since its first year of publication in 1931, the LULAC News, in an effort to educate Lulackers about Mexican Americans’ contributions to Texan democracy, had been publishing biographical sketches of Texas Mexicans who had played critical roles in Texas history. The article about Losoya marked a significant first. Whereas male Texas-Mexican leaders of the Texas Revolution, including José Antonio Navarro, Erasmo Seguín, Juan Nepomuceno Seguín, and...

  10. Epilogue: From Centennial to Sesquicentennial
    (pp. 193-202)

    In the Southwest Review for summer 1942, the renowned University of Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie published “The Alamo’s Immortalization of Words” in an implicit response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the previous December. Examining the discursive aftermath of the Battle of the Alamo in March 1836, Dobie maintained that that defeat had generated the “two sentences originated so far by Texas . . . destined for immortality: ‘Remember the Alamo’ and ‘Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat—the Alamo had none’” (“Immortalization” 402). Taken together, the battle cry and the learned epitaph had the power “to make...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 203-230)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 231-242)
  13. Index
    (pp. 243-259)