English Language and Literature ETDs

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This dissertation studies the ways that Mexican Americans experienced time as a colonizing force in the US Southwest between 1848 and 1940. I argue that Mexican American writing of this period exposes oppressive iterations of time within US modernity and often points toward possibilities of decolonizing time. The project focuses on political and economic constructions of US progress, which denied Mexican Americans presence within US temporal imaginings. My analysis moves from material to ideological temporal constructions as I analyze forms of time concerning wage labor, railroad operations, investment capitalism, judicial processes, congressional proceedings, Manifest Destiny, commodity fetishism, intellectual production, historical narrative, and sociological discourse. I historically situate Mexican American experiences of US time through María Amparo Ruiz de Burtons depiction of capitalist forms of time in The Squatter and the Don and Miguel Antonio Otero's dependence on the rhetoric of progress in his three-volume autobiography. They expose the way US forms of time like Manifest Destiny, free market capitalism and judicial proceedings depend upon the production of underdevelopment and inequity while championing the virtues of progress and development. The first two chapters also position the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo as a source of colonized time because it initiated a system of retroactive law and placed former Mexican citizens in a liminal 'mean time' of delayed political enfranchisement in order to dispossess Mexican Americans of their land and social standing. I go on to argue that Mexican American literature moves differentially across multiple forms of time to critique temporal domination by drawing on the scholarship of Chela Sandoval and Mikhail Bakhtin in my analysis of Jovita González and Margaret Eimer's Caballero. Throughout the dissertation, I explore the ways that literary recovery of Mexican American texts both participates in and rejects dominant forms of linear progressive time. The final chapter engages this issue through a close analysis of Adina De Zavala's History and Legends of the Alamo as a model for decolonizing time through practices of recovery and archivization that engage Derridian specters through intertextual dialogue with the past.'

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Level of Degree


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First Committee Member (Chair)

Harrison, Gary

Second Committee Member

López, Marissa

Third Committee Member

Cheek, Pamela

Project Sponsors

Center for Southwest Research, Feminist Research Institute




American LIterature, Chicano, Ruiz de Burton, Miguel Otero, Jovita González, Adina De Zavala, Time, Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Southwest Literature

Document Type