Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This dissertation examines various ways that family has been employed as a model of both oppression and liberation in Latina/o literature. Working from an interdisciplinary standpoint at the crossroads of literary and cultural studies, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, Chicano/a studies, and Latino/a studies, this project seeks to uncover how representations of familia in U.S. Latino/a literary texts accomplish their discursive work, as well as complicating conventional formulations of kinship and family.

I examine Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas, in Chapter One, in terms of queer family and the counter-domestic logic of “the streets.” In Chapter Two, I explore the ways that nationalism and family are intertwined in two Cuban American texts: The Agüero Sisters, by Cristina García, and We Came All The Way From Cuba So You Could Dress Like This? by Achy Obejas. In Chapter Three, I use narratology as a way to examine the workings of patriarchy as a means of controlling the truth in Ana Castillo’s So Far from God and Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Finally, I examine the trajectory of Cherríe Moraga’s body of work in Chapter Four, from This Bridge Called My Back to A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness, arguing that Moraga’s work, like a spirograph, spirals back to similar themes about family and identity while also changing significantly as she ages.

Each chapter employs different spatial frameworks to approach the texts, reflecting not only the heterogeneity of the work itself, but also the varied uses of “family” as a trope. In examining how these texts complicate chronology, authority, ethnicity, and heteronormativity, this dissertation argues for new, feminist possibilities for kinship beyond conventional domesticity.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.