The U.S. Latina Boom: The Formation of a Feminist Literary Movement, 1984-2000
Morillo, Kara Ann
Ontiveros, Randy J
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The time period that spanned the late 1980s through the early 1990s saw an increase in production of U.S. Latina literature by women. Their production was so prolific it generated a Boom—a renaissance of Latina writing into the marketplace. This dissertation revisits what we may think of as a watershed moment in literary history and popular culture. I examine the impact of the Latina Boom on American literature writ large and on the U.S. publishing industry. Reading against arguments about the mere mainstreaming of ethnic voices, I contend that Latina Boom writers strategically used their respective positions to initiate progressive cultural change within and by way of the literary mainstream. Further, I argue that the Boom spans a wider timeframe than usually acknowledged, extending from 1984 to 2000. What’s more, this extended Boom represents an ongoing a composite of multiple literary, social, and cultural movements that exceeds the bounds of the Boom as an ongoing process of revision, inspiration, and change. When viewed as a collective, intentional effort within the mainstream rather than as individual accomplishment before the masses, the Latina Boom can be better appreciated by scholars and readers for its impact on American publishing and literature. I argue that writers Sandra Cisneros, Cristina García, Julia Alvarez, and Ana Castillo utilized the publishing market’s interest in them to make visible and marketable a feminist literary movement. The biggest outcome of the Boom has been the expansion of the American canon and mainstream marketplace to include more diverse voices in American literature, most notably by a younger generation of writers who found their inspiration in their groundbreaking predecessors. I conclude with a discussion on the Latina Boom’s beneficiaries, which includes authors Cristina Henriquez, Jennine Capó Crucet, Patricia Engel, and Kirsten Valdez Quade.