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Literature in English, North America, Ethnic and Cultural Minority


In her paper, "Anxieties of Impotence: Cuban Americas in New York City, " Christina Marie Tourino seeks a basis for comparison between Latin American literatures and Latino literatures of the United States. Such groups have rarely been compared in the past because they are considered part of the same literary "family." However, Tourino argues that owing to the flows of capital driven by global pressures, literatures between and among Latin Americans and Latinos hail from such culturally heterogeneous sites and are made over by so many relocations that they do call for comparative projects. Instead of comparing texts across national or ethnic lines, then, Tourino's project attends to texts that spring from related but different sorts of departures, dislocations, languages, and constructions of race, gender, sexuality, and class, then seeks what "family" resemblance still obtains. As a test case, Tourino looks at two texts that descend directly from Cuba and are produced in New York: Oscar Hijuelos's The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989) and Reinaldo Arenas's El asalto (1990). What Tourino discovers is that, despite radical differences in the class, politics, sexuality, language, and political disenfranchisement of the text's protagonists (and even their authors), both of these texts posit a fantasy of excessive masculinity as the source of an all-male family that reproduces itself without women -- a fantasy whose freneticism points to a masculine anxiety over its own emptiness that seems to be performed in related ways in much Latino and Latin American literature.