Toward a Minor-Minor Literature: Bilingualism in Tato Laviera's Poetry

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Gilles Deleuze and F?lix Guattari?s definition of minor literature outlined in Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature describes literature written by an author belonging to and representing an oppressed social group. The theory stipulates that in order for a literature to be considered ?minor?, it must be political because of the ?cramped social space? in which the minor group exists, that it is necessarily collective and produces ?an active solidarity? among the group in question, and that it must be constructed in the language of the ?major?, or the oppressors, in order to effectively convey its political message. Using the example of bilingual poet Tato Laviera, I argue that Deleuze and Guattari fail to include authors in their definition who use language itself to convey their political, social, and collective messages. Laviera?s characters are Puerto Rican immigrants living in New York, and while there is a sort of major/minor relationship between Puerto Rican immigrants and Americans, his poetry does not simply lament the oppressed condition of the immigrants and call for change. The use of bilingualism and code-switching (the use of multiple languages within the same discourse), allows for a third discourse to emerge between Spanish and English, which is called ?Spanglish?, and which is the language of a third social space, the ?Nuyorican? (New York Puerto Rican).


Raul Villa




Ford Research Mentors Endowment

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