Critical Pedagogy on the Margins: Teaching Chicana/o Literature in Rural New Mexico

By Danizete Martínez

Located in the rural vicinity of Tomé, New Mexico, 35 miles south of Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico-Valencia branch campus is a Hispanic Serving Institution with at least 63 percent Hispanic full-time equivalent enrollment. In preparing our students to become versatile, independent writers who can analyze a variety of writing situations and respond to textual prompts with the appropriate genre, authorial voice, and rhetorical approach, I am interested in making stronger connections between literacies and specific localities by including ethnic and regional literature in our curriculum that expressly reflects our students’ cultural experiences.

By directly incorporating ethnic writing into our undergraduate classrooms, we are introducing a genre that the majority of our student populations have not had the opportunity to carefully explore.  It has been my experience that contact with texts written by or about community members has led to more engaged queries, analyses, and writing. By also incorporating regional writing into our curriculum, we are embracing the opportunity of a more inclusive composition/literary studies approach that aligns us well with the scope of Critical Pedagogy and the Study of the Literatures of People of Color in the US and Canada.

“Teaching Chicana/o Literature in Community College: Social, Ethnic, and Linguistic Hybridity in Ana Castillo’s So Far from God” explores the importance of teaching ethnic literature at community colleges, and considers the social importance of Ana Castillo’s So Far From God (1993) to Southwest learners. In a time when minority education programs are being threatened by budget cuts, and are rapidly being displaced/replaced by more fiscally “lucrative” certificates and departments, Castillo’s novel demonstrates the contemporary relevance and cultural currency of traditional folklore to small communities.

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