Early literary works written in Spanish in what is today the American Southwest have been largely excluded from the corpus of American literature, yet these documents are the literary antecedents of contemporary Chicano and Chicana writing. This collection of essays establishes the importance of this literary heritage through a critical examination of key texts produced in the Southwest from 1542 to 1848. Drawing on research in the archives of southwestern libraries and applying contemporary literary theoretical constructs to these centuries-old manuscripts, the authors—all noted scholars in Chicano literature—demonstrate that these works should be recognized as an integral part of American literature.
Juan Bruce-Novoa, Ramón Gutiérrez, María Herrera-Sobek, Enrique Lamadrid, Luis Leal, Francisco A. Lomelí, Genaro Padilla, Tey Diana Rebolledo, Tino Villanueva
This project also includes the new essay "Reflections on Reconstructing a Chicano/a Literary Heritage: Hispanic Colonial Literature of the Southwest" by Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez, an assistant professor of English at Arizona State University. She writes, "Perhaps the most salient truth made evident by the collection is that the Spanish conquest left a troubled inheritance on which to build a literary trajectory."