The University of Texas at San Antonio
Department of English, Classics, and Philosophy
6900 North Loop 1604 West
San Antonio, Texas 78249
Award-winning author and professor Norma E. Cantú is professor of English and U.S. Latina/o Literature at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Her scholarly interests include folklore, Chicana literature, and borderlands studies. She edited Flor y Ciencia: Chicanas in Mathematics, Science, and Engineering (2006) and co-edited the anthologies Telling to Live: Latina Feminist Testimonios (2001) and Chicana Traditions: Continuity and Change (2002) She is also author of the award-winning Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera (1995). She formerly served as senior arts specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Folk and Traditional Arts Program and as acting director of the Center for Chicano Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has also served on the boards of the American Folklore Society and the Federation of State Humanities Councils.
The reading from the award-winning coming-of-age novel set in Laredo is supplemented with images and discussion of the cultural production of Chicanas along the U.S.-Mexico border. Find out what the china poblana represents, why Laredo celebrates George Washington's birthday with a three-week fiesta, and much more.
The U.S.-Mexico border has been the setting of numerous Chicano novels. An analysis of the major themes in these novels—land, racism, violence—underscores the contested history of the region. From nineteenth-century narratives to contemporary texts, the border has always been a site of contestation and confluence between two cultures. From relatively unknown authors like Margarita Canseco del Valle to Alicia Gaspar de Alba and Benjamin Alire Saenz, Chicana and Chicano authors have explored these themes and given us a rich literary tradition full of engaging stories that show the complexities of life on the border.
The coming-of-age ritual has changed and evolved over the last hundred years. An analysis of the celebration and its impact on the community, families, and individuals reveals that it is a significant part of the traditional culture of the Latino community. The examination of the quinceañera and other life-cycle markers makes for an interesting cross-cultural comparison, as all communities have ways of marking life passages.