English/Women’s Studies 363H: Latina Feminisms

Professor Laura Halperin

Spring 2013

MWF 12-12:50

Greenlaw 319


This honors course will introduce students to feminist literary theories,

with a focus on (U.S.) Latina feminist theories, and with a concentration on

texts by Chicana, Cuban American, Dominican American, and Puerto Rican

writers. We will explore how literary theory can present itself in myriad

ways-hence the attention to plural “theories,” rather than singular

“theory.” Building on Chicana feminist and U.S. Third World feminist

platforms that advance the idea that the personal is political and that

theory can be found in praxis, the Latina writers whose works we will

analyze present their theories across an array of literary genres,

including: theory (in the strict, narrow sense of the term), essays,

memoirs, novels, vignettes, and films. In our attention to the many ways in

which theory can be, and is, conceptualized, we also will examine the

multiplicity of Latina feminisms and will challenge the idea of a monolithic

and static Latina feminism. We will begin the semester by delving into the

historical formations of Latina feminisms and by reading texts that ask what

it means to be a Latina writer. We also will read texts considered

foundational in the development of a Latina feminist literary “canon.”

Following Latina/o-centered movements of the 1960s and 1970s that relied on

a platform of unified oppositionality and racial and ethnic pride, Latina

feminisms thereafter shifted the rhetoric to one that did not shy away from

examining both inter-group and intra-group tensions. Given this differential

focus, we will read texts that explore the tremendous harm many Latinas

experience (from outside their communities and within them). We then will

turn to texts that explore what it means to come of age Latina. We will

conclude the semester by analyzing literary and filmic texts that rely on

humor, levity, and female solidarity in their formulation of Latina

subjectivities. Throughout the semester, we continually will question what

it means for a text or writer to be classified as theoretical, Latina,

and/or feminist.