Literature as History

Autobiography, Testimonio, and the Novel in the Chicano and Latino Experience

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Historical documents—and, for that matter, historical sources—exist in many forms. The traditional archival sources such as official documents, newspapers, correspondence, and diaries can be supplemented by personal archives, oral histories, and even works of fiction in order for historians to illuminate the past.

Literature as History offers a critical new path for Chicano and Latino history. Historian Mario T. García analyzes prominent works of Chicano fiction, nonfiction, and autobiographical literature to explore how they can sometimes reveal even more about ordinary people’s lives. García argues that this approach can yield personal insights into historical events that more formal documents omit, lending insights into such diverse issues as gender identity, multiculturalism, sexuality, and the concerns of the working class.

In a stimulating and imaginative look at the intersection of history and literature, García discusses the meaning and intent of narratives. Literature as History represents a unique way to rethink history. García, a leader in the field of Chicano history and one of the foremost historians of his generation, explores how Chicano historians can use Chicano and Latino literature as important historical sources. Autobiography, testimonio, and fiction are the genres the author researches to obtain new and insightful perspectives on Chicano history at the personal and grassroots levels. Breaking the boundaries between history and literature, García provides a thought-provoking discussion of what constitutes a historical source.
“García’s latest work changes the landscape of Chicano and Latino literature and history in profound ways.”—Choice

“An incisive exploration of the multiple tracks [Chicano and Latino] authors have taken in writing about themselves and their community.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“Fascinating and compelling.”—Western Historical Quarterly

“[Literature as History] offers an extraordinary example of how to provide historical validity and marry fiction with history.”—Bulletin of Spanish Studies

Literature as History reexamines the unresolved relationship between a community’s cultural artifacts and its lived historical experience. By approaching literary texts as important parts of the Chicana/o and Latina/o archive, García’s study will be instructive for young scholars in a variety of academic disciplines. More important, it will provide teachers a road map for revealing to their students the complexity of the past and its relevance for their present and their future.”—George Mariscal, author of Brown-Eyed Children of the Sun: Lessons from the Chicano Movement, 1965–1975

“Finally, a much-needed extensive history of Chicano literature as historical discourse. Amply footnoted, the work covers all genres, thus giving the reader a vision rarely found in any other available work. In brief, a keeper and well worth the reader’s time.”—Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, author of A Voice of My Own: Essays and Stories
Literature as History
200 Pages 6 x 9
Published: August 2018Paperback ISBN: 9780816538690
Published: November 2016Ebook ISBN: 9780816534555

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