248 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:17 Mar 2016
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How Myth Became History

Texas Exceptionalism in the Borderlands

The University of Arizona Press
The myth of Texas origin often begins at the Alamo. This story is based on ideology rather than on truth, yet ideology is the foundation for the U.S. American cultural memory that underwrites official history. The Alamo, as a narrative of national progress, supports the heroic acts that have created the “Lone Star State,” a unified front of U.S. American liberty in the face of Mexican oppression.

How Myth Became History explores the formation of national, ethnic, racial, and class identities in the Texas borderlands. Examining Mexican, Mexican American, and Anglo Texan narratives as competing representations of the period spanning the Texas Declaration of Independence to the Mexican Revolution, John E. Dean traces the creation and development of border subjects and histories. Dean uses history, historical fiction, postcolonial theory, and U.S.-Mexico border theory to disrupt “official” Euro-American histories.

Dean argues that the Texas-Mexico borderlands complicate national, ethnic, and racial differences. He makes this clear in his discussion of the Mexican Revolution, when many Mexican Americans who saw themselves as Mexicans fought for competing revolutionary factions in Mexico, while others who saw themselves as U.S. Americans tried to distance themselves from Mexico altogether.

Analyzing literary representations of the border, How Myth Became History emphasizes the heterogeneity of border communities and foregrounds narratives that have often been occluded, such as Mexican-Indio histories. The border, according to Dean, still represents a contested geographical entity that destabilizes ethnic and racial groups. Border dynamics provide critical insight into the vexed status of the contemporary Texas-Mexico divide and point to broader implications for national and transnational identity.
Dean thinks very deeply about what it means to live in the borderlands and to understand, write, recount, and experience the histories."—Choice Reviews

“Dean has produced the rare book that… brings literature and history together rather than treating one as background for the other.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“Dean has produced the rare book that… brings literature and history together rather than treating one as background for the other.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly
John E. Dean is an associate professor of literature at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas. He is the author of Travel Narratives from New Mexico: Reconstructing Identity and Truth.
Timeline of the Texas-Mexico Border, 1835–1920

Introduction. The Texas-Mexico Border: A Mythical History
1 The Collision of Cultural Memories on the Texas-Mexico Border: Walter Prescott Webb’s The Texas Rangers, Américo Paredes’s George Washington Gómez, and Rolando Hinojosa’s The Valley / Estampas del Valle
2 Mexico, Genesis, Apocalypse: Ignacio Solares’s Yankee Invasion: A Novel of Mexico City
3 The History of All Is the History of Each: Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian: Or Evening Redness in the West
4 History as Alternative to the Past: Carlos Fuentes’s The Old Gringo
5 The Archival Cave of Mediation in Katherine Anne Porter’s “Flowering Judas”
6 Remediating a Refusal of History: Arturo Islas’s The Rain God: A Desert Tale

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