Event Title

Women of Epic Proportions: Speaking from the Borders of a Dominican-American Epic

Presenter Information

Joelle Mann, Buffalo State College

Location

Panel 15: Kearney 312

Start Date

27-10-2012 10:15 AM

End Date

27-10-2012 11:45 AM

Description

Junot Diaz’s tragic epic narrative The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao traces the history of a Dominican family lost between American dreams and the reality of what Diaz deems to be the curse of the Dominican fuku. Diaz’s protagonist “ghetto-nerd,” Oscar de Leon, stumbles through fragmented experiences of love as he attempts to “write” his world. Inspired by American pop culture and science fiction, Oscar strives to become the Dominican JRR Tolkien. As Oscar aspires to create the American and Greek epics of his dreams, the dark realities of his existence are held together by the strong women of his family. These women attempt to survive to create an epic from the margins of gender and race. In this paper, I focus on the female characters of Belicia, La Inca, and Lola as they endure the restrictive Dominican border culture to overcome the stereotypical gender roles that alienate feminine identity and matriarchy within the diaspora and the Dominican-American border space. Through these characters, Diaz writes a feminine Dominican-American epic which positions women as resistance figures, linking the past to the present. Despite the possible interpretation of this novel as a failed Dominican epic of the diasporic experience, I will argue that through the lens of a feminine epic, the novel depicts the hope of the culture of the borderland. Through the use of memory and myth, the women of the de Leon/Cabral family create a Dominican-American history.

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Oct 27th, 10:15 AM Oct 27th, 11:45 AM

Women of Epic Proportions: Speaking from the Borders of a Dominican-American Epic

Panel 15: Kearney 312

Junot Diaz’s tragic epic narrative The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao traces the history of a Dominican family lost between American dreams and the reality of what Diaz deems to be the curse of the Dominican fuku. Diaz’s protagonist “ghetto-nerd,” Oscar de Leon, stumbles through fragmented experiences of love as he attempts to “write” his world. Inspired by American pop culture and science fiction, Oscar strives to become the Dominican JRR Tolkien. As Oscar aspires to create the American and Greek epics of his dreams, the dark realities of his existence are held together by the strong women of his family. These women attempt to survive to create an epic from the margins of gender and race. In this paper, I focus on the female characters of Belicia, La Inca, and Lola as they endure the restrictive Dominican border culture to overcome the stereotypical gender roles that alienate feminine identity and matriarchy within the diaspora and the Dominican-American border space. Through these characters, Diaz writes a feminine Dominican-American epic which positions women as resistance figures, linking the past to the present. Despite the possible interpretation of this novel as a failed Dominican epic of the diasporic experience, I will argue that through the lens of a feminine epic, the novel depicts the hope of the culture of the borderland. Through the use of memory and myth, the women of the de Leon/Cabral family create a Dominican-American history.