Spanish and Portuguese ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation examines the effects of transnational migration on women with particular attention to the (re-)negotiation of personal and cultural identity resulting from the adoption of novel roles within Chicana narratives of Mexican migration. Chapter One offers a historical background regarding the U.S.-Mexico border, (im)migration, and more specifically, women and migration, as well as an overview of pertinent Chicano migrant literature that serves as an appropriate point of departure for discussion of Chicana re-writings of such texts. This discussion offers border feminism as a framework for analyzing the representation of evolving feminine roles and familial configurations in the context of transnational migration within contemporary cultural production. Chapter Two discusses the novels Across the Great River (1989) by Irene Beltrán Hernández and Trini (1986) by Estela Portillo Trambley as precursors to post-millennial works addressing issues of immigration and the family. Chapter Three directs attention to Across a Hundred Mountains (2007) by Reyna Grande and La línea (2006) by Ann Jaramillo in light of three cinematographic works with common thematics—La misma luna (2007), Sin nombre (2009), and Which Way Home (2009). Chapter Four focuses upon political condemnations of personal tragedies in The Guardians (2007) by Ana Castillo, utilizing reflections on The Cariboo Cafe' (1985) by Helena María Viramontes, and again invoking discussion of aforementioned films to understand these works as paradigmatic narrative and cinematographic calls to action, while also introducing other literary genres—namely testimonials, ethnographies, and juvenile fiction—that similarly call for social change. Finally, Chapter Five discusses transnational families and migration in the context of multiculturalism and cultural coalitions, highlighting the narrative and cinematographic works as instruments to demand social and political activism that transcends borders. The conclusion places the texts within the context of evolving trends in migrant literature to demonstrate how they challenge the nationalist discourse of Mexican narratives of immigration and the masculinist discourse of earlier Chicano migrant texts by focusing upon the re-definition of gender and national identities, and embracing the migrant as a theoretical subject through the restoration of his or her humanity.

Degree Name

Spanish & Portuguese (PhD)

Level of Degree


Department Name

Spanish and Portuguese

First Committee Member (Chair)

Lamadrid, Enrique

Second Committee Member

López, Kimberle

Third Committee Member

Lomelí, Francisco




Mexican American literature (Spanish), American literature -- Mexican American authors, Mexican American women in literature, Emigration and immigration in literature, Mexican-American Border Region -- Emigration and immigration -- In literature

Document Type