208 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Dec 2015
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Badmen, Bandits, and Folk Heroes

The Ambivalence of Mexican American Identity in Literature and Film

The University of Arizona Press
Badmen, Bandits, and Folk Heroes is a comparative study of the literary and cinematic representation of Mexican American masculine identity from early twentieth-century adventure stories and movie Westerns through contemporary self-representations by Chicano/a writers and filmmakers. In this deeply compelling book, Juan J. Alonzo proposes a reconsideration of the early stereotypical depictions of Mexicans in fiction and film: rather than viewing stereotypes as unrelentingly negative, Alonzo presents them as part of a complex apparatus of identification and disavowal. Furthermore, Alonzo reassesses Chicano/a self-representation in literature and film, and argues that the Chicano/a expression of identity is characterized less by essentialism than by an acknowldgement of the contingent status of present-day identity formations.

Alonzo opens his provocative study with a fresh look at the adventure stories of Stephen Crane and the silent Western movies of D. W. Griffith. He also investigates the conflation of the greaser, the bandit, and the Mexican revolutionary into one villainous figure in early Western movies and, more broadly, traces the development of the badman in Westerns. He newly interrogates the writings of Américo Paredes regarding the makeup of Mexican masculinity, and productively trains his analytic eye on the recent films of Jim Mendiola and the contemporary poetry of Evangelina Vigil.

Throughout Badmen, Bandits, and Folk Heroes, Alonzo convincingly demonstrates how fiction and films that formerly appeared one-dimensional in their treatment of Mexicans and Mexican Americans actually offer surprisingly multifarious and ambivalent representations. At the same time, his valuation of indeterminacy, contingency, and hybridity in contemporary cultural production creates new possibilities for understanding identity formation.
Provides a thought-provoking political stance on the ethics of reading stereotypes in historical and contemporary written and visual texts, and in everyday life.”—Bulletin of Latin American Research

“Examining early 20th century adventure stories and film (including an investigation into how early Westerns combined the greaser, the bandit, and the Mexican revolutionary into a single villainous figure), the author shows how seemingly negative and one-dimensional stereotypes are actually multifarious and ambivalent. Alonzo also argues that the Chicano/a expression of identity in film and literature is characterized less by essentialism than by an acknowledgement of fluidity in identity formation.”—Book News Inc.
“Alonzo delivers a significant contribution to an already considerable body of scholarship on Mexican American identity in art, film, and literature. . . . In doing so, this scholarly work departs from its antecedents, which focus more on negative stereotyping and representation. Steeped in various theoretical perspectives on cultural identity, the author frames the study in an especially useful manner.”—Choice
Juan J. Alonzo is an assistant professor of English at Texas A&M University.
List of Figures
Introduction: Ambivalence and Contingency in the Representation of Mexican Identity

1 The Greaser in Stephen Crane’s Mexican Stories and D. W. Griffith’s Early Westerns
2 Greasers, Bandits, and Revolutionaries: The Conflation of Mexican Identity Representation, 1910–1920
3 The Western’s Ambivalence and the Mexican Badman
4 Stereotype, Idealism, and Contingency in the Revolutionary’s Depiction
5 Gregorio Cortez in the Chicano/a Imaginary and American Popular Culture
6 Reformulating Hybrid Identities and Re-inscribing History in Contemporary Chicano/a Literature and Film
Epilogue: The Return of the Stereotypical Repressed: Why Stereotypes Still Matter

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