06 September 2009

Wikcrit in the 1980s

Wikcrit (though not called such) is not new. Here, for example, is an excellent example of what was going on in the 1980s in literary criticism. The passage is about Chicana/o poets:

“In the attempt to identify the audiences, a major factor is language choice. These poets may have the option of writing in Spanish, in English, or in a combination of the two languages, the choice usually depending upon such factors as family background, area of origin, and educational opportunities. They may have had to learn English, Spanish, or even both languages. To some Chicana and Chicano authors only one option may be available; to others, perhaps all three.

“Nevertheless, these languages, whose mixing is a central stylistic feature of this poetry, are combined in at least two ways. First, Chicano authors may write bilingually, using Spanish for one poem and English for another. Tino Villanueva, Bernice Zamora, and Carmen Tafolla all fall into this group. Second, Chicano writers may also intermix the two languages within the same poem, as Alurista, Tafolla, Zamora, Xelina, and José Montoya have done in varying degrees. The cultural and literary phenomenon of using two languages interlinearly has been referred to as ‘interlingualism,’ a term coined to distinguish the mixture of language within one poem from ‘bilingualism,’ the use of English and Spanish in different poems. The difference lies in how the movement takes place. In a bilingual experience, the reader must mentally juxtapose poems in English with poems in Spanish; in an interlingual experience, the tensions in syntax, the connotations, the ironies, and the reverberations of words and images interlock, pulling in two directions at once. Poems written interlingually engage rival sets of reader expectations and desires. They graphically enact on the surface of the page the conflicts and tensions between the two main audiences of Chicana-Chicano poetry, the English-speaking audience and the Spanish-speaking audience.” (Contemporary Chicana Poetry: A Critical Approach to an Emerging Literature, by Marta Ester Sánchez, 1986, pp. 20-21)

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