The Borderlands of Culture: Américo Paredes and the Transnational
Poet, novelist, journalist, and ethnographer, Américo Paredes
(1915-1999) was a pioneering figure in Mexican-American border studies
and a founder of Chicano studies. Paredes taught literature and
anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin for decades, and his
ethnographic and literary critical work laid the groundwork for
subsequent scholarship on the folktales, legends, and riddles of the
Mexican American people. In this beautifully written literary history,
the distinguished scholar Ramón Saldívar establishes Paredes'
preeminent place in writing the contested cultural history of the
American southwestern borderlands. At the same time, Saldívar
reveals Paredes as a precursor to the "new" American cultural studies by
showing how he perceptively negotiated the contradictions between the
national and transnational forces at work in the Americas in the nascent
era of globalization.
Saldívar demonstrates how Paredes' poetry, prose, and journalism
prefigured his later work as a folklorist and ethnographer. In song,
story, and poetry, Paredes first developed the themes and issues of the
"border studies" or "anthropology of the borderlands" for which his
later work would be celebrated. Saldívar describes how Paredes'
experiences as an American soldier, journalist, and humanitarian aid
worker in Asia shaped his understanding of the relations between Anglos
and Mexicans in the borderlands of the American southwest and of
national and ethnic identities more broadly. Saldívar was a friend
of Paredes, and part of The Borderlands of Culture is told in Paredes'
own words. By explaining how Paredes' work engaged with issues central
to contemporary scholarship, Saldívar extends Paredes' intellectual
project and shows how it contributes to the remapping of the field of
American studies from a transnational perspective.
Chicano Narrative; The Dialectics of Difference
In struggling for the retention of cultural integrity and unity, the
Mexican American communities of the American Southwest in the nineteenth
and twentieth centuries produced a significant body of literary texts.
Chicano Narrative is an examination of representative aspects of Mexican
American narrative forms - including the novel, short story, narrative
verse, and autobiography - that have largely been excluded from the
canon of American literature.
No longer a regional literature, Chicano narrative is more than a simple
mirror of the life and folklore of a heretofore invisible segment of
American society. It is a part of American literature and merits
expanded and continued exploration.
Figural Language in the Novel: The Flowers of Speech from Cervantes to
This work draws an analogy between the problem of all authors of prose
fiction and that of Ishmael, the narrator of Moby-Dick, who despairs of
putting the circumstances of the hunt - "so mystical and well nigh
ineffable" - in comprehensible form. Ramón Saldívar contends that
a narrator's initial task is to formulate a grammar and a syntax for the
communication of the mystical, as well as the "everyday," experience.
Tracing this central undertaking in close readings from Cervantes,
Stendhal, Melville, Hardy, and Joyce, he shows how modern narratives
create an epistemological ground for coherent versions of the world.
Novels affirm the power of fiction to portray the horizons of knowledge
and to dramatize the ways that the truths of human existence are created
and preserved. Saldívar shows that deconstructive readings of
novels remind us that we do not apprehend the world directly but through