The English Department is pleased to announce a lecture by Cristina Rodriguez of UC Irvine Tuesday, February 10, at 5:00 pm in the Morris Inn Private Dining Room. A reception will follow.
Cristina Rodriguez is a PhD candidate in the English Department at the University of California, Irvine. Her research interests include Chicano and Latin literature, multi-ethnic American literature, and American studies. Rodriguez’s dissertation, “Find Yourself Here: Neighborhood Logics in Twenty-First Century Chicano and Latino Literature,” argues that since transmigrants often form profound connections to place, a nuanced account of transmigrant subjectivity can be developed through analyzing innovative fiction by migrants who describe their own neighborhoods. The authors studied use their own hometowns as both setting and stylistic inspiration, deploying various formal techniques to mirror the fictional location to the real one, thus literarily enacting the neighborhood.
Rodriguez constructs what she calls a “neighborhood geography” from each work, by traveling on foot, interviewing the neighbors and local historians, mapping the text’s fictional setting upon the actual spaces it references, and teasing out connections between place, narrative form, and migrancy, to demonstrate how excavating the locale illuminates the text. Her interdisciplinary methodology incorporates recent sociological studies of transnationalism by Linda Basch, Patricia Pessar, and Jorge Duany, tenets of Human Geography, and the work of Latino literary theorists including Raúl Homero Villa and Mary Pat Bray on space in narrative. These neighborhood geographies—of Salvador Plascencia’s El Monte barrio, Junot Díaz’s New Jersey housing development, Sandra Cisneros’ Westside Chicago, and Helena María Viramontes’ East Los Angeles—sharpen Latino literary criticism’s long-standing focus on urban and regional spaces in narrative by zooming in on neighborhood streets, while building on contemporary theories of transnationalism to analyze the broader cultural implications of local migrancy. By grounding the effects of transmigrancy in concrete locations, “Find Yourself Here” presents a comprehensive vision of the US Latino immigrant experience without generalizing from its myriad versions and numerous sites.