Embracing the Second Soul: Bilingualism in Caribbean-American Spanish-English Texts

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-9145-3739
Daves, Jessica, Spanish - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Pellon, Gustavo, AS-Spanish, Italian & Portuguese, University of Virginia

While some critical works have been written acknowledging multilingualism in contemporary literature, much of the criticism written about bilingual Hispanic literature has been unfairly one-dimensional. At times, the use of both languages is ignored, or seen as a superfluous aesthetic choice, while at others, the use of Spanish is recognized without truly being analyzed. Even when an author’s bilingual texts are recognized as such, the criticism tunnels its focus on a single work without examining the work in a larger context.
It is therefore the purpose of this dissertation to begin to fill this gap by examining three Caribbean-American authors and their bilingual works: Soledad and Let It Rain Coffee by Angie Cruz; La vida es un special, Raining Backwards, and En la Ocho y la Doce, by Roberto G. Fernández, and Language Duel/Duelo del lenguaje by Rosario Ferré. I consider why each author chose to include both Spanish and English in the texts that I study. What is the discursive or sociolinguistic purpose of this bilingualism within the texts? Do the authors use their bilingualism in similar ways, or are their bilingual uses different? Furthermore, as each of the works that I study was published in the United States, I also consider the effect of the texts’ bilingualism on a monolingual reader. How much access does a monolingual English reader have to each specific text?
While this study of the bilingualism of three authors is only the beginning of the study of U.S. Latino writers who write bilingually, it provides one blueprint for how to begin studying works published in the U.S. and written in both Spanish and English. It acknowledges that bilingual works each use their language uniquely, and encourages readers to cast a critical eye at why an author has chosen to incorporate more than one language into the text. In this way, I hope this dissertation spurs future study of the bilingual nature of texts, and thus continues to encourage writers to take advantage of any or all of their personal languages so that Spanish continues to thrive within the U.S.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Angie Cruz, Roberto G. Fernández, Rosario Ferré, Bilingualism in literature, Caribbean-American Texts, U.S. Latino Texts, Soledad, Let It Rain Coffee, La vida es un Special, Raining Backwards, En la Ocho y la Doce, Language Duel / Duelo del lenguaje
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