Appointed As

Division of Humanities


ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowships program


University of California, Los Angeles

PhD Field of Study

PhD, English, Harvard University

Dissertation Abstract

“Unbinding Latinidad: Book History and the Horizon of Publishable Latinidad”

The Latinx canon is built on exigency. Latinidad is what Lázaro Lima has called a “crisis identity,” a community organized around diasporic movement, historical exclusion, and the urgent need for enfranchisement. How do we define Latinidad as a diasporic consciousness, if it cannot be organized around a single destination or origin, a religious unity, a racial identification, or a language? Following from that crisis of ethnic identification, how do we organize Latinx textual history, if its canon lacks a single, traceable lineage? Unbinding Latinidad singles out the Latinx novel as an object of study, arguing that novel-length fiction traces a story of “publishable Latinidad,” as opposed to a history of the Latinx imagination unbound. Because the overhead of publishing and distributing novels is substantial, the survival of novel-length works by Latinx authors has overwhelmingly depended on the cooperation of Latinx authors with existing trade presses and existing routes of circulation. If, however, trade presses are only willing to assume the financial risk of certain narratives and not others, what becomes of the others? The texts we find in the cracks between conventional paths of circulation—those texts traveling via alternate routes, those self-published and recovered, those hidden inside archives waiting for publication—I call texts of Latinx survivance, borrowing a portmanteau for “survival and endurance” from Gerald Vizenor’s work in Indigenous Studies. In reframing Latinx literature as a double tradition of “publishable Latinidad” and texts of survivance, I call into question the categories by which we process American minority literature, both as an alternative to traditional canon and as a marginal tradition reluctantly incorporated into that canon.