‘Radical Bilingualism’: Language Borders and the Case of Puerto Rican Children’s Literature
Puerto Rican children’s literature reflects the complex history of Puerto Rico, an island that has been perpetually under colonial rule. Island and US Puerto Ricans represent a cultural identity with indefinite geographical, national and linguistic borders. Although both groups have created distinct communities, both remain loyal to Spanish as a marker for identity, making the inclusion of Spanish necessary in literary representations. Children’s writers such as Pura Belpré, Nicholasa Mohr, Judith Ortiz-Cofer and Carmen Bernier-Grand underline the tension involved when depicting this group of US citizens in two languages: the language of the conqueror and the conquered. Yet, even while acknowledging foreign languages, US children’s literature as an institution often upholds monolingual discourse. In this essay, I present the case of Puerto Rican children’s literature to argue that children’s literature has yet to adopt a bilingual perspective.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: English Department,University of Florida, GainesvilleFlorida, USA
Publication date: December 1, 2011