Special Session (Panel #125)


“Postcolonial Histories and Intertextuality

in Junot Díaz’s

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao



Modern Language Association Convention

Date: December 27th, 2008, 7 pm to 8:15 pm

Location: Hilton San Francisco, 333 O'Farrell Street

Room: Union Square 2 (Fourth Floor)





Panel Chair:

Elena Machado Sáez, English Department, Florida Atlantic University



Presentation Titles and Presenter Bios:

“Migrating Readers: Footnoting Dominican History in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”


Ylce Irizarry is an Assistant Professor of Latina/o Literatures at East Carolina University and received her Ph.D. in English from The Pennsylvania State University.  Her research on US Latina/o literature, Hispanic Caribbean historical fiction, Narrative Ethics, and Testimonio has appeared in Contemporary Literature (2007), CAS: Comparative American Studies (2006), and LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory (2005).  She has published and presented on Dominican American authors such as Julia Alvarez, Nelly Rosario, and Junot Díaz.  She has an essay on Junot Díaz forthcoming in the collection Voices from Abroad:  The Spanish Caribbean Writer as Exile and (Im)Migrant. Irizarry’s current book project explores the turn
to historical novels by US Latina/o authors such as
Cristina García, Julia Alvarez, Ernesto Quiñonez, and Junot Díaz.
Each of these authors began their careers with what she calls the "arrival" text—a book about acculturation to the US mainstream—and later shift to texts
on the colonial or postcolonial history of the Hispanic Caribbean Diaspora.
 Irizarry’s MLA panel presentation is part of that larger project, discussing how Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao illustrates a turn to historical fiction.




“El Ojo de Sauron: A Ghetto Nerd’s Telling of Postcolonial Histories from the Dominican Republic and Its Diaspora.”


Jason Meyler is an assistant professor of Spanish in the Foreign Languages and Literatures Department at Marquette University.  His teaching and research interests include the study of contemporary US Latino/a Literature and Popular Culture from Dominican-American, Puerto Rican and Chicano/a artists.  Most recently, he has presented papers on the postcolonial artwork of Enrique Chagoya which rewrites pre-Columbian codices to tell of how Aztec and Mayan gods battled with the likes of Superman and Captain America.  This combination of pre-Columbian and comic book subject matter, Jason argues, is more than playful pastiche as Chagoya’s work demands its viewers re-visualize Latino/a and Latin American culture wars.  At the moment, Jason is completing an article that analyzes Abraham Rodriguez’s Spidertown and The Buddha Book as texts that question the negative conceptualization of the ghetto.  This work on Rodriguez is part of a larger book project that considers how Latino/a culture can be (re)conceptualized through intertextuality. 




Yunior Strikes Back: Junot Díaz’s Oscar Wao as a Diasporic Foundational Fiction.”


Elena Machado Sáez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Florida Atlantic University. She is coauthor of the book, The Latino/a Canon and the Emergence of Post-Sixties Literature (Palgrave Macmillan 2007). The Latino/a Canon book chapter entitled, “Movin’ on Up and Out: Engaging Lowercase Latino/a Conversations with Junot Díaz and Angie Cruz,” specifically analyzes Díaz’s short story collection, Drown, in relation to the genre of ghetto realism. Machado Sáez has also published articles on Caribbean and US Latino/a literatures in journals such as Anthurium, MELUS, Phoebe, Sargasso, and Small Axe and her current book project focuses on contemporary historical fiction by Caribbean diasporic writers. One of the book chapters performs a comparative analysis of how Junot Díaz’s Oscar Wao and Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breaker function as diasporic foundational fictions processing postcolonial violence. She has an article on “Teaching Brathwaite’s MR within a Caribbean Fabulist Tradition” forthcoming in the MLA’s Approaches to Teaching Kamau Brathwaite, edited by Elaine Savory. Machado Sáez has recently presented papers on Junot Díaz, Juan Flores, Ana Menéndez, and Ilan Stavans at several conferences.