Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Leslie Bary


Since the 1970s, there has been an ongoing debate within the humanities regarding the canon and curricular reform. Moving beyond questions of advocacy and the dichotomy of center and periphery (without diminishing the necessity of these), Border Crossers and Coyotes: A Reception Study of Latin American and Latina/o Literatures surveys the various ways which marginalized texts enter U.S. academic discourse as well as analyzing the conflicts inherent in these border crossings. The study proposes the position of the coyote, a person who transports undocumented workers across the U.S./Mexico border for profit, as analogous to that of the critic/teacher. Employing a cultural studies perspective informed by postmodern anthropology, reader-response, and feminist theories, the study analyzes the reception of texts including the canonical, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude, the representative such as Bless Me, Ultima and The House on Mango Street, the disciplinary border crosser Borderlands/La Frontera, and the collaboratively produced but singly authored Translated Woman and I Rigoberta Menchu. This analysis functions to uncover the ruptures within the current discourse on "diversity" which make manifest the struggle to negotiate the slippery space between erasure and appropriation. By performing close readings of critical responses to these texts, the study identifies various strategies of containment that foster decontextualizing, essentializing, and/or universalizing readings which neutralize their oppositional and transformative potential. This potential lies in the challenges which these texts pose to existing assumptions regarding genre, authorship, history, language and our conceptualization of literature itself. Institutional practices and pedagogies are also problematized as conflicted in responding to calls for diversity, primarily by "tacking on" Latin American and Latina/o cultural productions in a process of inclusion without influence. This study proposes the abandonment of such additive models in favor of a relational and transformative approach which allows for a revision of established reading practices and critical conventions.