Latino/a Literature and The Uses of Folklore

Authored by: María Eugenia Cotera

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415666060
eBook ISBN: 9780203097199
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221613


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Folklore has been a major aesthetic force in Latino/a literary practice since the early twentieth century. Spiritual figures such as the “curandero/a” or “santero/a” have shared literary space with more spectral figures such as “La Llorona” or the devil. Popular traditions of music and dance have enriched Latino/a novels, short stories and poetry, as have representations of deeply meaningful religious practices, rituals, and rites of passage. Historical figures from the conquest forward that have been celebrated and demonized in the oral traditions of Latino communities have made their way into foundational texts in the Latino/a canon (“La Malinche” and Gregorio Cortez are perhaps the two most well-known examples). Countless memoirs have offered insight into the everyday culture of Latinos/as – their representations of traditional and contemporary foodways, children’s games, chistes (jokes), proverbs, and dichos, these accounts offer a picture of intergenerational exchange, community cohesion, and, most importantly, survival, in the shadow of empire, colonization, and continued economic, social, and political marginalization.

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