Writing Off the Hyphen

New Critical Perspectives on the Literature of the Puerto Rican Diaspora

Edited by Jose L. Torres-Padilla and Carmen Haydee Rivera

  • Published: 2008
  • Subject Listing: Literary Studies; Latino/a Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 368 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: American Ethnic and Cultural Studies
  • Contents

The sixteen essays in Writing Off the Hyphen approach the literature of the Puerto Rican diaspora from current theoretical positions, with provocative and insightful results. The authors analyze how the diasporic experience of Puerto Ricans is played out in the context of class, race, gender, and sexuality and how other themes emerging from postcolonialism and postmodernism come into play. Their critical work also demonstrates an understanding of how the process of migration and the relations between Puerto Rico and the United States complicate notions of cultural and national identity as writers confront their bilingual, bicultural, and transnational realities.

The collection has considerable breadth and depth. It covers earlier, undertheorized writers such as Luisa Capetillo, Pedro Juan Labarthe, Bernardo Vega, Pura Belpré, Arturo Schomburg, and Graciany Miranda Archilla. Prominent writers such as Rosario Ferré and Judith Ortiz Cofer are discussed alongside often-neglected writers such as Honolulu-based Rodney Morales and gay writer Manuel Ramos Otero. The essays cover all the genres and demonstrate that current theoretical ideas and approaches create exciting opportunities and possibilities for the study of Puerto Rican diasporic literature.
José L. Torres-Padilla is associate professor of English, State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Carmen Haydée Rivera is associate professor of English, University of Puerto Rico.

"A comprehensive view of the evolution of U.S. Puerto Rican literature through a number of new critical essays that cover some of its most important themes and trends and include a very good representation of leading authors from different historical periods. Puerto Ricans are the second largest group among the nationalities included under the Hispanic/Latino rubric, and this body of writings, which has grown considerably in recent decades, is important to both U.S. and Puerto Rican literary traditions."
-Edna Acosta-Belen, University at Albany, State University of New York

"Fills in a dearth of critical anthologies on U.S. Puerto Rican literature as well as it foregrounds the critical works of both established and younger scholars in the field. There is no other literary anthology that is timely, up to date, and that brings together such a wide array of topics and approaches that do justice to the complexities of U.S. Puerto Rican literature."
-Frances R. Aparicio, University of Illinois at Chicago


Introduction: The Literature of the Puerto Rican Diaspora and Its Critical Practice / Jose L. Torres-Padilla and Carmen Haydee Rivera

PART I: Earlier Voices
1. Evolving Identities: Early Puerto Rican Writing in the United States and the Search for New Puertorriquenidad / Jose M. Irizarry Rodriguez

2. For the Sake of Love: Luisa Capetillo, Anarchy, and Boricua Literary History / Lisa Sanchez Gonzalez

3. When "I" Became Ethnic: Ethnogenesis and Three Early Puerto Rican Diaspora Writers / Jose L. Torres-Padilla

PART II: Political and Historical
4. Anarchism in the Work of Aurora Levins Morales / Ferda Asya

5. Puerto Rican Literature in a New Clave: Notes on the Emergence of DiaspoRican / William Burgos

6. The Political Left and the Development of Nuyorican Poetry / Trenton Hickman

PART III: Identity and Place
7. Literary Tropicalizations of the Barrio: Ernesto Quinonez's Bodega Dreams and Ed Vega's Mendoza's Dreams / Antonia Dominguez Miguela

8. Discordant Differences: Strategic Puerto Ricanness in Pedro Pietri's Puerto Rican Obituary / Victor Figueroa

9. "Borinkee" in Hawai'i: Rodney Morales Rides the Diaspora Wave to Transregional Imperial Struggle / Maritza Stanchich

10: Tato Laviera's Parody of La carreta: Reworking a Tradition of Docility / John Waldron

11. Writing Home: Mapping Puerto Rican Collective Memory in The House on the Lagoon / Kelli Lyon Johnson

12. Translating "Home" in the Work of Judith Ortez Cofer / Joanna Barszewska Marshall

13. Getting There and Back: The Road, the Journey, and Home in Nuyorican Diaspora Literature / Solimar Otero

PART V: Gender
14. Identity of the "Diasporican" Homosexual in the Literary Periphery / Enrique Morales- Diaz

15. Manuel Ramos Otero's Queer Metafictional Resurrection of Julia de Burgos / Betsy A. Sandlin

16. Subverting the Mainland: Transmigratory Biculturalism in U.S. Puerto Rican Women's Fiction / Mary Jane Suero-Elliott


"Writing Off the Hyphen offers depth and insight on the theory and critical approaches for understanding the complexity of the Puerto Rican diaspora from a broad range of perspectives. It covers a variety of topics and serves as a starting point for critical discussions on Puerto Rican literature from a historical and literary standpoint. This volume belongs in all academic library collections. It is a key resource for Puerto Rican literature and culture courses, and for understanding Puerto Rican diasporic literature."
-Multicultural Review