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Biography / Criticism
Chicana poet and writer Ana Castillo was born and raised in Chicago, but has spent most of her writing career studying her Mestiza heritage. In her first novel, The Mixquiahuala Letters (1986), Castillo explores the relationship between two women who travel to Mexico in search of a better understanding of their place in both the U.S. and Mexican societies. The novel, written in the form of letters between the two women, is considered the landmark novel that made Castillo a leading Chicana feminista writer, winning the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.
Castillo's interest in race and gender issues can be traced through her writing career, culminating in Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma, published in 1994. In this collection of essays, Castillo explores the notion of Xicanisma, a term she herself created in order to give name to the struggles of Brown women in the racially polarized U.S. In the U.S. , much debate of racism becomes constructed in a Black-White paradigm, leaving little room for others. In Massacre of the Dreamers, Castillo explores the Chicana feminist movement of the 70's and where that movement is headed. Castillo notes that U.S. history, especially, seems to neglect the struggles of Mexico and the indigenous peoples who became involuntary migrants into what is now the Southwestern U.S. By exploring the history of Mexico and Central America, Castillo hopes to integrate ideas about the patriarchy and oppression of these societies with that of the United States, looking at how Brown women must cope in both societies.
Castillo was schooled in Chicago for the most part, attending the Chicago City College for two years before entering Northwestern Illinois University. Here, she received her B.A. in art. After receiving her degree in 1975, Castillo moved to Sonoma County, California to teach. In 1977 she moved back to Chicago and earned an M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Chicago. Throughout this period of time, Castillo was not only writing, but was also an activist -- something she still continues to be. In 1986 Castillo moved back to California and taught at various colleges. She eventually found herself at the University of Bremen in Germany where she earned her Ph.D. in American Studies.
Not only is Castillo a noted poet and novelist, she has edited many works with other Chicana-Latina writers including Cherrie Moraga and Norma Alarcon. It was with Alarcon and others that Castillo co-founded Third Woman, a literary magazine, for which she is a contributing editor. Her most recent publication, La Diosa de las Americas/Goddess of the Americas, is an anthology about the Virgin of Guadalupe with Castillo as editor. Castillo proclaims herself a "devotee" of the Virgin of Guadalupe who is considered the Mother Goddess in Mexican, Mestizo, and Mexican-Indian societies, but largely ignored by the patriarchal Catholic church. It is the Catholic church and patriarch that led Castillo to incorporate sexuality as one of the main themes in her writing. Because the Catholic church does not condone sex unless it is for the sole purpose of having a child, many women in Catholic cultures, including much of Latin America, lose a segment of their "self" by being denied their sexuality. Castillo believes that women have lost their sense of self on many levels, including psychologically, physically, and spiritually, and need to reclaim themselves. Castillo herself does this through her writing and activism.
Works by the Author
- My Daughter, My Son, The Eagle, The Dove. Illustrated by Susan Guevara. (2000)
- Peel my Love Like an Onion (1999)
- Loverboys (1996)
- So Far From God (1993)
- The Mixquiahuala Letters (1986)
- Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma (1994)
Video and Sound
- Sapogonia: Uncorrected Proof (uncut version) (1994)
- Ana Castillo reading from her works (sound recording) (1994)
- Sapogonia: Uncorrected Proof (3/8 meter video) (1990)
- I Ask the Impossible: Poems (2001)
- My Father Was a Toltec and Selected Poems 1973-1988 (1995)
- My Father Was a Toltec (1988)
- Women Are Not Roses (1984)
- The Invitation (1979)
- Otro Canto (1977)
- This Bridge Called by Back. Co-edited with Cherrie Moraga. (1988)
- The Sexuality of Latinas. Co-edited with Norma Alarcón and Cherrie Moraga. (1991)
- Goddess of the Americas/La Diosa de las Americas. Editor (1996)
Works about the Author
- Alarcon, Norma. "The Sardonic Powers of the Erotic in the Work of Ana Castillo. " Breaking Boundaries: Latina Writing and Critical Readings. Amherst, MA: Amherst University Press, 15, 1989: 268.
- Benjamin-Labarthe, Elyette. "L'Amour et la haine dans un roman chicano contemporain: Sapogonia d'Ana Castillo. " In Etats-Unis/Mexique: Fascinations et répulsions réciproques. Ed. Serge Ricard. Paris: Harmattan, 1996.
- ---. "Sapogonia d'Ana Castillo, ou le feuilleté des identifications. " Annales du Centre de Recherches sur l'Amérique Anglophone 20 (1995): 157-70, 237-38.
- Bennett, Tanya Long. "No Country to Call Home: A Study of Castillo's Mixquiahuala Letters. " Style 30.3 (1996 Fall): 462-478.
- Cook, Barbara J. "La Llorona and a Call for Environmental Justice in the Borderlands: Ana Castillo's So Far from God. " Northwest Review 39.2 (2001): 124-133.
- Cruz, Julia G. "Temática feminista chicana en un cuento de Ana Castillo. " Káñina: Revista de Artes y Letras de la Universidad de Costa Rica 21.2 (1997): 123-127.
- Datchi, Corinne. "Recherches topiques et atopiques du sujet féminin: The Mixquiahuala Letters d'Ana Castillo. " In Etats-Unis/Mexique: Fascinations et répulsions réciproques. Ed. Serge Ricard. Paris: Harmattan, 1996.
- Delgadillo, Theresa. "Forms of Chicana Feminist Resistance: Hybrid Spirituality in Ana Castillo's So Far From God. " Modern Fiction Studies 44.4 (1998 Winter): 888-916.
- Dubrava, Patricia. "Ana Castillo: Impressions of a Xicana Dreamer: A Profile. " Bloomsbury Review 15.6 (1995 Nov-Dec): 5, 13.
- Fernandez, Roberta, ed. In Other Words: Literature by Latinas of the United States. Houston: Arte Publico Press, 1994.
- Flores, Arturo C. "La escritura como configuración del espacio poético y de la identidad femenina en Ana Castillo. " Káñina: Revista de Artes y Letras de la Universidad de Costa Rica 23.3 (1999): 103-111.
- Gillman, Laura and Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas. "Con un pie a cada lado'/With a Foot in Each Place: Mestizaje as Transnational Feminisms in Ana Castillo's So Far from God. " Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 2.1 (2001): 158-175.
- Gómez-Vega, Ibis. "The Homoerotic Tease and Lesbian Identity in Ana Castillo's Work. " Crítica Hispánica 25.1-2 (2003): 65-84.
- In Her Heritage: A Biographical Encyclopedia of Famous American Women. CD-Rom. Pilgrim New Media, 1996. " Hampton, Janet Jones. "Ana Castillo pinta con palabras. " Américas 52.1 (2000 Jan-Feb): 48-53.
- Herrera, M. Aichih Wehbe. "Xicanisma: Raza, Lenguaje y Género en la Propuesta Feminista de Ana Castillo. " Nerter 8 (2005): 49-53. (In Spanish)
- Lanza, Carmela. "'A New Meeting with the Sacred': Ana Castillo's So Far from God. " RLA: Romance Languages Annual 10.2 (1998): 658-663.
- Lorente-Murphy, Silvia. "El baile y canto flamencos como metáfora de la vida en Peel My Love Like an Onion de Ana Castillo. " In Literatura y otras artes en America Latina. Ed. Daniel Balderston, Oscar Torres Duque, and Laura Gutiérrez, Laura, Brian Gollnick, and Eileen Willingham. Iowa City, IA: U of Iowa P, 2004.
- Manríguez, B. J. "Doing Rhetorical Analysis Sapogonia: The Rhetoric of Irony. " Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture 32.1-2 (1999 Spring-Summer): 53-72.
- ---. "Ana Castillo's So Far from God: Intimations of the Absurd. " College Literature 29.2 (2002 Spring): 37-49.
- Marzan, Julio and Ron Padgett. "Other Poetic Models. " In Teachers and Writers 28.3 (1997).
- Mills, Fiona. "Creating a Resistant Chicana Aesthetic: The Queer Performativity of Ana Castillo's So Far from God. " CLA Journal 46.3 (2003 Mar): 312-336.
- Perez, Domino Renee. "Crossing Mythological Borders: Revisioning La Llorona in Contemporary Fiction. " Proteus: A Journal of Ideas 16.1 (1999 Spring): 49-54.
- Pérez, Gail. "Ana Castillo as Santera: Reconstructing Popular Religious Praxis. " In A Reader in Latina Feminist Theology: Religion and Justice. Ed. María Pilar Aquino, Daisy L. Machado, and Jeanette Rodríguez. Austin, TX: U of Texas P, 2002.
- Platt, Kamala. "Ecocritical Chicana Literature: Ana Castillo's 'Virtual Realism'. " Isle: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 3.1 (1996 Summer): 67-96.
- Sauer, Michelle M. "'Saint-Making' in Ana Castillo's So Far from God: Medieval Mysticism as Precedent for an Authoritative Chicana Spirituality. " Mester 29 (2000): 72-91.
- Shea, Maureen E. "La literatura testimonial de la mujer y la autoridad etnográfica en la literatura centroamericana. " In La literatura centroamericana: Visiones y revisions. Ed. Jorge Román-Lagunas. Lewiston, NY: Mellen, 1994.
- Socolovsky, Maya. "Borrowed Homes, Homesickness, and Memory in Ana Castillo's Sapogonia. " Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 24.2 (1999 Fall): 73-94.
- Valencia, Tita. "Cuando 'tan lejos de Dios' se dice en inglés: Ana Castillo. " Revista de Literatura Mexicana Contemporánea 2.4 (1996 Oct-1997 Jan): 38-47.
Works in Languages other than English
- Recent Chicano poetry = Neueste Chicano-Lyrik, edited with Heiner Bus. Trans. F. Aupperle, et al. Bamberg: Universitätsbibliothek Bamberg, 1994.
- Das Wunderhaus der Sofi García: Roman. Trans. Maria Buchwald und Sabine Seifert. Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag, 1996.
- Mi hija, mi hijo, el aguila, la paloma: un canto Azteca. Illustrated by Susan Guevara. New York: Dutton Books, 2000.
- Carmen la Coja. Trans. Dolores Prida. New York: Vintage Español, 2000.
- Tan lejos de Dios. Trans. La Compañía Flavia. New York: Plume, 1999.
- Las Cartas de Mixquiahuala. Trans. Mónica Mansour. México, D.F. : Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes : Grijalbo, 1994.
- La diosa de las Américas: escritos sobre la Virgen de Guadalupe. Trans. Mariela Dreyfus. New York: Vintage Español, 2000.
- Esta puente, mi espalda: voces de mujeres tercermundistas en los Estados Unidos. Co-Edited with Cherrie Moraga. Trans. Ana Castillo, Norma Alarcón. San Francisco: ISM Press, 1988.
This is the official page for Ana Castillo and has some nice, short explanations of Xicanisma, a short biography, and an extensive bibliography.
Modern American Poetry: Castillo
Includes a critical biography and online poems.
Ana Castillo Interview, with Martha Cinader and Matthew Finch
This is a rather lengthy and detailed interview of Castillo. It mainly focuses on Xicanisma and her book Massacre of the Dreamers, but includes other topics as well.
Report a dead link or suggest a new one by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This page was researched and submitted by Julie Hua on 4/15/98 and edited and updated by Lauren Curtright on 9/25/04.