In this original look at how ethnic literature enters the U.S. classroom and the literary can, Delia Poey compares the risks facing teachers and interpreters of well-kwn Latina/o or Latin American texts with those run by the coyote who smuggles undocumented workers across the U.S./Mexico border: both are in danger of erasing those cultural traits that made the border crossers important. Poey shows that these texts have yet to be fully main-streamed into the curricula, and that teachers of multicultural literature inadvertently re-colonize the texts by failing to treat them on their own terms. She goes beyond highlighting the ways a superficial understanding of Latin American literature has led to an even more superficial or problematic reception of Latina/o texts and offers solutions. In looking at such familiar books as Borderlands, Hunger of Memory, House on Mango Street, Bless Me Ultima, and One Hundred Years of Solitude, Poey t only provides teachers and critics of Latina/o literature with invative and viable approaches to these texts but proposes new contexts for them and new ways of viewing how they have been treated in classrooms and criticism. Far more than merely an entry in the current debate over can and curricular reform, the work combines a practical approach to teaching Latina/o literature with suggestions on diversifying curricula and revising established reading practices.
Delia Poey is assistant professor of Spanish at Florida State University. She has edited Out of the Mirrored Garden: New Fiction by Latin American Women and co-edited Little Havana Blues: A Cuban American Literature Anthology and Iguana Dreams: New Latino Fiction.