Chicana rhetoric

By js, 29 July, 2010, No Comment

I’ve just finished reading kendal Leon’s dissertation about chicana rhetoric titled “BUILDING A CHICANA RHETORIC FOR RHETORIC AND COMPOSITION: METHODOLOGY, PRACTICE, and PERFORMANCE.”

In her dissertation, Leon argues that the term “Chicana” is a “political act of identification” that is rhetorical because it is ideological and “carries explicit political implications that mediate performance of what it means to be a Chicana” (abstrac ii-iii)

She examines not Chicanas which perform a “stabilized ‘rhetoric’” but instead places rhetoric as a “dependent variable” which “[alters] with and through Chicana production” (2-3).

She acknowledges that Chicana identity and rhetoric has been studied in poetic writing and wants to show how it is also articulated in other types of writing. (3)

She focuses on “Chicana identity as not only reflecting a reality but as an
epistemic that incites correlative actions” (4).

Leon identifies “commonalities or repetitious practices enacted by Chicanas” (15). She defines Chicana rhetoric as “a specific set of practices that are developed and employed within a particular context from which Chicana emerges” (15-16).

  1. Shared Topoi and Symbols to Resist and to Use to Create
    1. recanting or retelling stories of symbolic figures
    2. topoi-border and mestiza (consciousness)–learning to deal with plurality and contrdictions
  2. Use of poetics to theorize
  3. Recognition and Utilization of Experiential Knowledge
    1. “acknowledges experience as a source of knowledge about the world” which leads “Chicanas to create or adopt theories to help invent ways to account for and build upon this epistemology and ontology” (17)
  4. Invention and Intervention of Histories
    1. “the subject position of Chicana is itself created to stand in opposition, or to be more precise, operates in strategic tension with historical constructions of Mexican American and/or Latina. Chicana writers often create new narratives that interrogate and recast histories to enable activist subjectivities.” (18)
  5. Connective and Collective
    1. “Chicana rhetoric employs the Nahua trope of difrasismo17, or coupling. The
      difference is that rather than operating on replacement or minimization, difrasismo
      creates relationships—sometimes spatial, or ideological. What this allows then is the
      production of affinities to be formed. Affinities and relations can also take place textually by placing different languages and discursive practices next and in between each other. I do not call this “multi-genre” but instead an act of textual affinities (i.e. Calafell, “Pro(re-…. Textual affinities may also take place by disrupting subjectivities
      based on chronos. ….affinities are also produced in Chicana rhetoric materially
       …. Chicana identity operates productively: when one affiliates as and with Chicana(s), it shapes the way we see the world and the way we act in it as scholars and activists.” (18-19)

Leon focuses on “how Chicana-ness is understood, defined, felt and experienced is actually part of a shared practice of Chicana rhetoric. To reiterate, I am looking at Chicana rhetoric because, as you can see, calling oneself a Chicana enacts an intentional chain of ideological and material signification. Therefore, what this dissertation does is to examine and explain the how of Chicana identity—how it operates rhetorically in the world, including the world of texts, histories, and action; and at the same time, the way it operates in the world with a particular set of outcomes and practices.” (19)


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