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Writing Chicana identity: Strategies of resistance and reformulation

Dora Alicia Ramirez-Dhoore, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


My dissertation addresses the way Chicana writers are reformulating and revising stereotypes that have been defined by patriarchal discourse in literature, film, and websites. Images and cultural myths such as La Malinche, La Virgen de Guadalupe, curanderas, and others have often been misrepresented socially, historically, and politically; therefore these misconceptions must be addressed when interpreting literature and art created by Chicanas. In Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference, Ramon Saldivar explains that Chicano narratives, “must be understood as different from and in resistance to traditional American literature, yet must also be understood in their American context, for they take their oppositional stance deliberately, in order to offer readers a reformulation of historical reality and contemporary culture that is more consistent with the way reality and culture are actually experienced than do other representations” (9). I focus on women's narratives that add to this discussion of reformulation, as they include the quadruple oppression (race, class, gender, and sexuality) women of color experience. ^ It was during the Chicana renaissance in the 1980's that Chicana writers were noticed for writing works of resistance that reformulated the historical reality and contemporary culture that is created through stereotypical portrayals of Chicanas in film and literature. But, as readers, we must also realize that Chicanas have had a long history of writing narratives of resistance and reformulation. I examine the strategies of resistance Chicanas use in their texts to speak to the issues that surround and construct their identities (race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, etc.). In doing this, I focus on the images used in Maria Cristina Mena's children's books, Dolores del Río's films, Sandra Cisneros's poetry, and the work of contemporary website artists, Melina Chavarria, Laura Molina, and Bianca Ortiz. The purpose of this study is to show Chicana writers/artists carving out their place in history by accessing a privileged U.S. rhetoric, using their own language(s) to reformulate stereotypical images found in the public imagination, and thus make a larger space for a Chicana writers' “practiced resistance” against hegemonic discourses. ^

Subject Area

Literature, Comparative|Design and Decorative Arts|Women's Studies|Literature, American|Cinema

Recommended Citation

Ramirez-Dhoore, Dora Alicia, "Writing Chicana identity: Strategies of resistance and reformulation" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3092585.