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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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2. Exploring Borders   

2. Exploring

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Activities: Author Activities

Gloria Anzaldúa - Teaching Tips

Back Back to Gloria Anzaldúa Activities
  • Students who do not read or speak Spanish may be frustrated by Anzaldúa's inclusion of words, phrases, and sentences in untranslated Spanish, and even students with a background in what Anzaldúa calls "Standard Spanish" may have difficulty understanding her use of regional Chicano dialects and Chicano slang known as Caló. Ask your students to pick a page of Anzaldúa's prose or poetry and look up the Spanish vocabulary both in a traditional Spanish dictionary and in a dictionary of Chicano Spanish such as The Dictionary of Chicano Spanish/El diccionario del español chicano by Roberto A. Galván and Richard V. Teschner. Ask your students to write a journal entry discussing why Anzaldúa challenges her readers in this way. What kind of audience is she hoping to reach? What kind of experience is she trying to provide for readers? What message does Anzaldúa send about the relative importance of English, Castillian Spanish, and Caló?

  • Ask your students to think about the significance of the title Borderlands/La Frontera, the work from which the passages in The Norton Anthology of American Literature are drawn. Have your class discuss the importance of Anzaldúa's choice to incorporate both English and Spanish in the title and the significance of the slash, which itself functions as a kind of border within the title. How does the title reflect Anzaldúa's concern with articulating multiple perspectives and celebrating inclusivity? Anzaldúa has claimed that the capitalization of the word "Borderlands" throughout her text is a means of indicating that the border is less a physical place and more a state of mind or a cultural experience for mestizas. Ask your students to list and discuss the different kinds of psychological, cultural, sexual, racial, and spiritual borders that the text explores.

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