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Border Writing

The Multidimensional Text

1991
Author:

D. Emily Hicks
Foreword by Neil Larsen

Border Writing

A paradigmatic contribution to literary theory and interpretation out of the writings of Latin America.

A paradigmatic contribution to literary theory and interpretation out of the writings of Latin America.

Border Writing examines a newly emerging culture-space, the borderland between Mexico and the United States. This gives the geographic referent of the term border a centrality. As used by Hicks-and, one might say, as used by a score of writers in the field of cultual studies-that term points beyond its most obvious geographic referent to become a leading metaphor that organizes the conceptual field. What gives the term its privileged metaphoric value is the reality of displacement that is the central fact of life among people living in the border. By giving the metaphor of displacement such centrality in her text, Emily Hicks positions herself in such a way that she is able to effect an encounter between a body of literature which includes texts of quite diverse origin-such as works by Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, and the Argentine Luisa Valenzuela-and texts that a more canonically oriented literary history would overlook, as would be the case with the string of love poems from Nicaragua and Aztlan studied by Hicks in the last chapter of the book. Such an encounter of texts is already significant in that it brings within view postmodern reading strategies. Most decisive, though , is the use Hicks makes of the metaphor of displacement to open up the space where important developments in postmodern theory show their relevance for a new reading of Latin American Literature. Border Writing is worthy addition to the Theory and History of Literature series of the University of Minnesota Press.

World Literature Today

Until recently, literary theory has been grounded in the histories of English, French, German, and Spanish literature. The terms and models for the production of literature and its function in culture and society were decided in Western Europe, and any deviations were immediately marginalized. This Eurocentric view has been widely attacked by postmodern, feminist, and postcolonial political practices.

Drawing on a variety of critical and theoretical sources, D. Emily Hicks employs the concept of border writing to consider the complexities of contemporary Latin American writing. With its emphasis on the multiplicity of languages and the problems of translation, border writing connotes a perspective that is no longer determined by neat distinctions. Hicks combines Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of “deterritorialization” (the geographic, linguistic, or cultural displacement from one’s own country, language, or native culture) with a holographic metaphor in provocative readings of Latin America writers, including Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Luisa Valenzuela, and Julio Cortazar. The result is a volume that forces the reader to consider the development of literature in terms of strategies and tactics that contribute to the production of meaning in culturally complex and politically repressive societies.

D. Emily Hicks is associate professor of English and comparative literature and a member of the Latin American studies faculty at San Diego State University. Neil Larsen is associate professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at Northeastern University and the author of Modernism and Hegemony: A Materialist Critique of Aesthetic Agencies (Minnesota, 1990).

Border Writing

D. Emily Hicks is professor of English and Comparative Literature and Chicano/a Studies at San Diego State University.

Neil Larsen is professor of comparative literature and Critical Theory at the University of California Davis and the author of Modernism and Hegemony: A Materialist Critique of Aesthetic Agencies (Minnesota, 1990).

Border Writing

Border Writing examines a newly emerging culture-space, the borderland between Mexico and the United States. This gives the geographic referent of the term border a centrality. As used by Hicks-and, one might say, as used by a score of writers in the field of cultual studies-that term points beyond its most obvious geographic referent to become a leading metaphor that organizes the conceptual field. What gives the term its privileged metaphoric value is the reality of displacement that is the central fact of life among people living in the border. By giving the metaphor of displacement such centrality in her text, Emily Hicks positions herself in such a way that she is able to effect an encounter between a body of literature which includes texts of quite diverse origin-such as works by Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, and the Argentine Luisa Valenzuela-and texts that a more canonically oriented literary history would overlook, as would be the case with the string of love poems from Nicaragua and Aztlan studied by Hicks in the last chapter of the book. Such an encounter of texts is already significant in that it brings within view postmodern reading strategies. Most decisive, though , is the use Hicks makes of the metaphor of displacement to open up the space where important developments in postmodern theory show their relevance for a new reading of Latin American Literature. Border Writing is worthy addition to the Theory and History of Literature series of the University of Minnesota Press.

World Literature Today

Though successful as a conventional academic study, Border Writing also operates brilliantly as the kind of text is describes. . . . Hick’s discussion inventively challenges readers to ‘deterritorialize’ their categories of literary and political analysis.

Comparative Literature

Border Writing offers new perspectives and approaches to texts that will permit readings which reflect the complexity of those subjects and cultural productions whose myriad of referential codes require a border reader-one who can ‘look in two directions at the same time.

Studies in 20th Century Literature