Presenter Information

Kayleigh Rhatigan, Dickinson College

Location

Stern Center Great Room

Start Date

20-4-2017 5:30 PM

Description

Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima (1972) is lauded as a classic of Chican@ literature and widely used in secondary and higher education as a representative Chican@ text. However, the novel depicts its female characters stereotypically and denies them agency and voice. The novel’s centering of masculinity reveals the problematic nature of curricula that use Ultima to represent all of Chican@ literature and culture. I read Ultima through a feminist lens and apply Jodi Melamed’s 2011 book Represent and Destroy to connect Ultima to the canon wars of the 1980s and issues of representation. Based on teaching guides that analyze the ways Ultima is actually taught I argue that secondary education curricula separate Ultima from the political context of the Chicano Literature Movement and treat it as representative of all of Chican@ literature and culture. Because Ultima is male-centered and relegates its female characters to stereotypical and two-dimensional roles, the use of Ultima as a representative text leads to the erasure of Chicana voices. This reveals the flaws inherent in teaching any text as representative.

The Limits of the Representative Text: Women on the Margins in Rudolfo Anaya's "Bless Me, Ultima" was presented by Kayleigh Rhatigan at the 2017 ROWGS Sympoisum.

Presentation Type

Presentation

Comments

Advisor: Associate Professor Claire Seiler

 
Apr 20th, 5:30 PM

The Limits of the Representative Text: Women on the Margins in Rudolfo Anaya's "Bless Me, Ultima"

Stern Center Great Room

Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima (1972) is lauded as a classic of Chican@ literature and widely used in secondary and higher education as a representative Chican@ text. However, the novel depicts its female characters stereotypically and denies them agency and voice. The novel’s centering of masculinity reveals the problematic nature of curricula that use Ultima to represent all of Chican@ literature and culture. I read Ultima through a feminist lens and apply Jodi Melamed’s 2011 book Represent and Destroy to connect Ultima to the canon wars of the 1980s and issues of representation. Based on teaching guides that analyze the ways Ultima is actually taught I argue that secondary education curricula separate Ultima from the political context of the Chicano Literature Movement and treat it as representative of all of Chican@ literature and culture. Because Ultima is male-centered and relegates its female characters to stereotypical and two-dimensional roles, the use of Ultima as a representative text leads to the erasure of Chicana voices. This reveals the flaws inherent in teaching any text as representative.

The Limits of the Representative Text: Women on the Margins in Rudolfo Anaya's "Bless Me, Ultima" was presented by Kayleigh Rhatigan at the 2017 ROWGS Sympoisum.