Ends of Assimilation compares sociological and Chicano/a (Mexican American) literary representations of assimilation. It argues that while Chicano/a literary works engage assimilation in complex, often contradictory ways, they manifest an underlying conviction in literature's productive power. At the same time, Chicano/a literature demonstrates assimilation sociology's inattention to its status as a representational discourse. As twentieth-century
sociologists employ the term, assimilation reinscribes as fact the fiction of a unitary national culture, ignores the interlinking of race and gender in cultural formation, and valorizes upward economic mobility as a politically neutral index of success.
The study unfolds chronologically, describing how the historical formation of Chicano/a literature confronts the specter of assimilation discourse. It tracks how the figurative, rhetorical, and lyrical power of Chicano/a literary works compels us to compare literary discourse with the self-authorizing empiricism of assimilation sociology. It also challenges presumptions of authenticity on the part of Chicano/a cultural nationalist works, arguing that Chicano/a literature must reckon with
cultural dynamism and develop models of relational authenticity to counter essentialist discourses. The book advances these arguments through sustained close readings of canonical and noncanonical figures and gives an account of various moments in the history and institutional development of Chicano/a
literature, such as the rise and fall of Quinto Sol Publications, asserting that Chicano/a writers, editors, and publishers have self-consciously sought to acquire and redistribute literary cultural capital.
John Alba Cutler is Assistant Professor of English at Northwestern University.
Acknowledgments ; Introduction: Representing Race, Producing Culture: Chicano/a Literature and the Sociology of Assimilation ; Chapter 1: Becoming Mexican-American Literature ; Chapter 2: Quinto Sol, Chicano/a Literature, and the Long March Through Institutions ; Chapter 3: Cultural Capital and the Singularity of Literature in Hunger of Memory and The Rain God ; Chapter 4: Cultures of Poverty, Lyric Subjects, and Sandra Cisneros's Wicked Wicked Ways ; Chapter 5: Segmented Assimilation and Jimmy Santiago Baca's Prison Counterpublics ; Chapter 6: Disappeared Men: Chicano/a Authenticity and the American War in Viet Nam ; Conclusion ; Works Cited ; Index