“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”: Learning from Hybridity and Adolescence in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Breana Fair Wilmington College
Faculty Sponsor(s): Bonnie Erwin Wilmington College
This paper examines cultural (Mexican-American) and ethnic (Latinx) identity in Benjamin Alire Saenz’s contemporary young adult novel, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which is set in Texas in the 1980s, using elements of postcolonial and race theory. Gloria Anzaldúa’s concept of the borderlands is used to explore the cultural and ethnic identities of the novel’s two main characters, Aristotle and Dante. This paper also considers the congruent concept of hybridity to understand the boys’ divided Mexican-American culture and heritage and how they choose to represent themselves and construct their identities in consideration of the conflicting elements of the two parts. It also incorporates the concept of intersectionality, with culture and ethnicity placed at the center, since the cultural and ethnic facets of the characters’ identities interplay with other elements, such as sexuality, gender expression, and adolescence. The multiple dimensions of the characters’ identities and expressions thereof are deeply influenced by their complex identification with their hybrid Mexican-American culture and their Latinx ethnicity. The paper explores the nuanced ways of thinking about and understanding identity in regards to culture, and it illuminates the ways in which cultural identity interacts with and helps develop other facets of identity.
English Literature & Creative Writing
Oral Presentation

When & Where

09:00 AM
Jordan Hall 303