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Diverse heritage: Exploring literary identity in the American southwest

Diverse heritage: Exploring literary identity in the American southwest
Lisa Costello


Graduate School, College of Arts, University College Cork, National University of Ireland, Dublin 2, IRELAND.


Since the age of colonisation, the territory of New Mexico has been exposed to a diversity of cultural influence. Throughout recorded history various forces have battled for control of this territory, resulting in a continuous redefinition of its political, geographic and economic boundaries. Early representations of the Southwest have been defined as “strategies of negotiation” between Anglo, Hispanic and Native populations, strategies that are particularly evident in the territory of New Mexico. The contemporary identity of regions like northern New Mexico have destabilised the notion of what constitutes racial purity in regions which are defined by diversity. This thesis aims to evaluate the literary history of northern New Mexico in order to determine how exposure to a diversity of cultural influence has affected the region’s identity. An analysis of Anglo and Native writers from northern New Mexico will illustrate that these racial groups were influenced by the same geographic landscape. As such, their writing displays many characteristics unique to the region. In providing a comparative analysis of Native and Anglo authors from northern New Mexico, this thesis seeks to demonstrate commonalities of theme, structure and content. In doing so this research encourages a new perspective on New Mexico writing one which effectively de-centres contemporary notions of what the American canon should be.