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Crossing, Trespassing, and Subverting Borders in Chicana Writing

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Debora Holler

The border and border-crossing and its significance for the Chicana in a cultural, social, gendered, and spiritual sense are at the core of this book. The three oeuvres selected—Helena Viramontes’ The Moths and Other Stories, Ana Castillo’s The Mixquiahuala Letters, and Norma Cantú’s Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera—are eloquent examples of feminist Chicana writers who refuse to allow their lives to be restricted by the gender, social, racial, and cultural border and who portray how Chicana women rebel against the unfair treatment they receive from their fathers, husbands and lovers. Crossing and deconstructing the man-made borders means to leave behind the known territory and discover an unknown land, in the hope of finding a new world in which Chicana women have the same rights as white women and in which they can realize their self, develop a new mestiza consciousness and liberate themselves from patriarchal constraints and religious beliefs. The author shows how the newly won self-confidence empowers the Chicana to explore the opportunities this freedom offers.

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6 Growing up Mestiza: Crossing Physical, Cultural, and Spiritual Borders in Norma Cantú’s Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera (1995)

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Norma Elia Cantú60 was born on January 3, 1947 in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Soon the family moved north of the borderlands to Laredo, Texas. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&I at Laredo (1973) and Kingsville (1976), respectively, and her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 1982. She taught at Laredo State University, later renamed Texas A&M International University where she also served as Chair and Interim Dean. Moreover, she worked as a senior arts administrator with the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C. and was Acting Chair of the Chicano Studies Research Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She held positions as assistant professor, associate professor and full professor and taught at the University of Nebraska, Laredo State University, Georgetown University, Texas A&I University, and the University of Texas. Her teaching interests include cultural studies, contemporary literary theory, border studies, Chicano/a and Latina/o literature and film, folklore and women’s studies.

Cantú is a prolific Chicana writer and has published numerous scientific articles, book chapters, book reviews, professional reports, poetry, short fiction, and essays on a number of topics which have earned her an international reputation as a scholar. Cantú has received several distinguished prizes and scholarships during her academic career, among them the Research Grant from the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center/Rockefeller Gateways Program (1996) for the study of popular culture in frontier spaces (quinceañera traditions in Laredo), the...

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