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Accented AmericaThe Cultural Politics of Multilingual Modernism$
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Joshua L. Miller

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336993

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336993.001.0001

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Spanglicizing Modernism

Spanglicizing Modernism

(p.271) 6 Spanglicizing Modernism
Accented America

Joshua L. Miller (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter centers on two novels that depict temporally overlapping projects of imperial expansion and colonial civilizing through language imposition. In foregrounding their narrative idioms as counterlanguages, this comparative analysis teases out Chicana/o and Filipina/o cultural politics from their literary multilingualisms. The key trends of interwar modernism—immigration, imperialism, and high-low language standardization and mixture—converge with particular force in the writings of Paredes and Bulosan, whose work represents a new chapter in U.S. literary history. Like other interwar writers they locate the kinetic charge of modern “American” cultures in bicultural fusions of multiple languages. However, unlike the work of Henry Roth, these novels make non-English words explicitly central to the narrative idioms of U.S. literature. In this sense they are not translational narratives, in the same way as Call It Sleep, in which registers of English distinguish speech in different languages, but nontranslational fictions that infuse linguistic mixture with Du Boisian racialized self-reflexivity. Unlike realist novels, their works do not pursue phonological approximation, but highlight the material consequences of racialized language difference through partially translated narration. In this respect, the militarization of language and linguicization of security at U.S. national borders during these decades is reflected in a 1946 article on “Pochismo, ” described as the “popular slang” of Mexican Americans taught to U.S. Border Patrol trainees and protested during an “Anti-Pochismo week” by Mexican intellectuals.

Keywords:   interwar modernism, immigration, imperialism, high-low language standardization, mixture, Paredes, Bulosan

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