Beyond the comfort zone: Monolingual ideologies, bilingual U.S. Latino texts
Burrows, Sonja S., 1973-
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Burrows, Sonja S., 1973-
This project examines reader reception of U.S. Latino-authored narratives that engage in varying degrees of textual code switching and bicultural belonging. The analysis builds on the argument that these narratives, as part of a larger body of minor literatures, play a role in revolutionizing traditional Anglo-American discourses of knowledge by marginalizing the monolingual and monocultural reader historically positioned as the prototype of cultural literacy in the United States. This project further proposes that marginalization is achieved by a textual appropriation and structural weakening of the dominant language and culture via the creation of a narrative space that privileges code switching to articulate bicultural identities. U.S. Latino texts that alternate between English and Spanish mirror the misunderstandings and failures of intelligibility in the multicultural situations they depict, thereby requiring the monolingual and monocultural reader to experience this unintelligibility first-hand. In order to tackle broader questions about how these literary texts and their reception reflect what is at stake politically, nationally, and culturally for Latinos in the United States today, this interdisciplinary project draws upon a diversity of perspectives originating from linguistics, literary analysis, sociology, and history to identify how literary texts mirror bicultural identity for Latinos. As a part of this analysis, the project examines the history of Spanish language use in the United States, Latino immigration history, the standard language ideology privileging English monolingualism, the persistence of bilingualism, oral and written code switching, the publishing industry, and analyses of reader responses to bilingual texts based on survey data. In situating these histories within discussions about the bilingual, bicultural nature and reception of the U.S. Latino narrative, this project shows how the linguistic makeup and the subsequent receptivity of these texts minor the bicultural identity and changing social positioning of the Latino population in the United States.
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