The Production of Ideology Through Chicanx Poetry: Towards an Alternative Framework for the American Dream Restricted; Files Only

Diaz Vasquez, Jose Ruben (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/w66344634?locale=en
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Abstract

Beginning in the 1960’s, endeavors such as the Chicano Power Movement and the Farmworker Rights Movement (inspired by the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements) sought to promote political, economic, and cultural shifts that contributed to a distinct generation of artistic work produced by Chicanx artists and writers. The calls for change from these minoritized writers undeniably clashed with the dominant discourses and master narratives of the U.S, including the powerful concept of the American Dream. Through an empirical study, I investigate the ways in which Chicanx poets between the 1960’s and 1990’s ‘talk back’ to the dominant discourse of the American Dream. Specifically, I examine 65 poems by Chicanx poets published within one anthology—The Floating Borderlands edited by Lauro Flores. I utilize Wendy Griswold’s analytical tool of the Cultural Diamond to conceptualize this anthology and the poems therein as cultural objects, situated in a particular social context, that work with a variety of producers and receivers to create ideologies that shape their social world as much as they are shaped by it.  Therefore, this project is a systematic study on the extent to which a selection of 65 poems engages with or does not engage with the dominant discourse of the American Dream. Through a multi-methods approach, I draw on close-readings, content analysis, and cultural sociology analysis, and I argue that the majority of poems engage with the Dream and promote narratives and discourses which demand a framework of multiple intersecting, diverging, and cross-cutting imaginaries to understand the various meanings attributed to the American Dream. This alternative framework suggests that individuals with different positionalities imagine paradigmatically distinct ‘American Dreams,’ to what is dominantly considered to be ‘the American Dream’—this includes the notion of a better life, upward mobility, and equality for certain groups—and thus they pave the way towards alternative realities, epistemologies, and identity-formations. 

Table of Contents

Introduction……………………………1

Establishing a Basic Framework: The Cultural Diamond……………………….4

Establishing a Common Discursive Ground……………..10

Tracing the History of the American Dream…………………..10

The Many American Dreams: What do they All Point to?....................13

Limitations of Current Literature on American Dream……………..14

Contextualizing Chicanx Poetry………………20

Methodology…………………23

Data Analysis………………..27

Findings………………………38

Conclusion……………………40

References……………………..42

Appendix A: Biographical Information about Chicanx Poets in Floating Borderlands……..44

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