I still remember my application to masters programs what my dreams and goals were. Here is what I said 7 years ago:
It was in another class that I learned that it was the Zapatistas who envisioned “a world in which many worlds will co-exist.” That is also my hope for English literature studies: I wish to be a part of a continued effort to understand the multiple meanings of America in all their complexity. It would be my privilege to find bridges and greater links between the canon and newly canonized and at the same time express this complexity through the topics I chose to write about, which are neither "Latino" or "white" or "female" but the blend that I grew up with.
Shortly after being accepted a spot in Fordham's Creative writing program, I presented at my first academic conference a piece on Gloria Anzaldúa's legacy that would become my first peer reviewed article. As you can read here, it is piece of literary criticism that is also very personal and political. Modeling myself after Anzaldúa, I refused to dichotomize the two.
I was reminded of the political possibilities of literature during my campus visit to Lehigh University last week. At Lehigh, the English department has made it their mission to explore, advance and incorporate issues of social justice into their teaching and research. And speaking with scholars from every period from medievalists to the Harlem Renaissance the possibilities for literary scholarship as connected to social justice are truly inspiring. I know, at least, they are inspiring my thinking and approach to my last chapter. Moreover, it was one faculty member, in particular, that reminded me that my first impulse was to model my career after Anzaldúa, whose commitment to literature, writing, and social justice could not be separate but instead drove her creative impulse.
Laughing, crying and reading through unapologetically fantasmic linguistically complex novels by Carmen Boullosa and Valeria Luiselli, this last stretch of dissertation feels less and less like a task. I am enveloped by thinking through their theoretics of space, labor, and technology in New York from a Mexican point of view. There is a Mexican critique here of a contemporary New York, of the impact of technology on humanity, on the state of the novel, and more that is both rich and needs uncovering. As I feel the chapter take shape, in small moments of unexpected mischievous grins and outward giggles that often brings unwanted attention, I am so glad I fought for this chapter, insisted on its need to be there, and my need to write it.
Because after quite a windy road, it has brought me home.