In this original look at how ethnic literature enters the U.S. classroom and the literary canon, Delia Poey compares the risks facing teachers and interpreters of well-known Latina/o or Latin American texts with those run by the "coyote" who smuggles undocumented workers across the U.S./Mexico border: both are in danger of erasing those cultural traits that made the border crossers important.
Poey shows that these texts have yet to be fully mainstreamed into the curricula, and that teachers of multicultural literature inadvertently re-colonize the texts by failing to treat them "on their own terms." She goes beyond highlighting the ways a superficial understanding of Latin American literature has led to an even more superficial or problematic reception of Latina/o texts and offers solutions. In looking at such familiar books as Borderlands, Hunger of Memory, House on Mango Street, Bless Me Ultima, and One Hundred Years of Solitude, Poey not only provides teachers and critics of Latina/o literature with innovative and viable approaches to these texts but proposes new contexts for them and new ways of viewing how they have been treated in classrooms and criticism.
Far more than merely an entry in the current debate over canon and curricular reform, the work combines a practical approach to teaching Latina/o literature with suggestions on diversifying curricula and revising established reading practices.