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Premise Course: How do we carry borders with us even as we cross them? Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera, Luiselli’s Tell Me How it Ends, Castillo’s The Mixquiahuala Letters

September 15 @ 3:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Online, N/A, Portland, OR 97207

Beautiful question: How do we carry borders with us even as we cross them?

(Learn about Premise classes here: https://www.premiseinstitute.com/premisefaq)

Texts: Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera; Ana Castillo’s The Mixquiahuala Letters, and Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How it Ends

Since its conception in 1848, the US-Mexico border has been a site of conflict, contradiction, and beauty. Although the border continues to feature heavily in our news and politics, it is often described through narratives of violence, national security, and human rights abuses.

 In this course, we will delve into works that complicate these narratives by embracing the beauty and possibility of the borderlands. We will begin with Gloria Anzaldúa’s landmark work Borderlands/La Frontera, in which she describes the border as “una herida abierta,” an open wound, where we can see “the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country — a border culture.” We will then turn to Ana Castillo’s The Mixquiahuala Letters, a classic exploration of love, friendship, and identity on both sides of the border. Finally, in the last week of the course, we will read Tell Me How it Ends, Valleria Luiselli’s extended essay that transforms a would-be-refugee survey into a mediation on how the US legal system treats the migrant children coming through its border in search of safety.

Alongside the questions relating to the border’s status and its significance for the identities formed in its shadow, this course will also consider the importance of form. Each of the four texts we will read pushes against the limits and expectations of genre and embraces the power of collage. These formal elements will influence our conversation through questions: Are the borderlands inherently a source of fracture? What does it mean to build beauty out of and to find happiness in the midst of violence? How can language be used as a form of resistance?

Please note: Borderlands/La Frontera includes extensive use of Spanish. However, translations of significant passages will be provided, and the work can be understood without any familiarity with Spanish. The way we choose to engage with this text is a key part of our understanding of it.

Learn more about these books on the Premise Goodreads page.

Instructor: Caity Swanson

Wednesdays, September 15-October 20

Register for Premise classes here: https://www.premiseinstitute.com/premisecourses