Special Collections Spotlight: The Chicano Literary Renaissance

Dec 18, 2012

By Juli McLoone, Rare Books Librarian

The voices of self-taught San Antonio Latino writers in the 1970s will never be forgotten.

The UTSA Libraries Special Collections holds many rare books and publications produced during the Chicano Literary Renaissance, ensuring the legacies of these Latino authors are accessible to the world.

Caracol, a local arts and politics journal published from 1974 to 1979, helped Chicana and Chicano literature flourish by publishing the work of many new, self-taught and working-class writers.

Intended as a forum for raising Latino consciousness, Caracol addressed both personal experiences and socioeconomic issues through poetry, short stories, drama, reviews, and political commentary.

The Libraries also hold several copies of "Y No Se Lo Tragó La Tierra = And the Earth Did Not Part" by Tomás Rivera. Local author and publisher Bryce Milligan donated the book.

Rivera, a Crystal City, Texas native, published the book in 1971, bringing national attention to Latino literature in Texas.

He received the Quinto Sol Award for this stream-of-consciousness novel composed of short vignettes of migrant life. A former professor and associate dean at UTSA, he went on to become the first minority chancellor of the University of California at Riverside, where he served until his untimely death in 1984.

Along with Rivera, San Antonio Chicana poets Angela de Hoyos and Carmen Tafolla also played a significant role in Chicana and Chicano literature in the 1970s.

De Hoyos’ press M&A Editions, established in the 1970s, continued to be an important publisher of Latino literature over the following decades. The UTSA Libraries Special Collections holds a signed copy of de Hoyos’ own "Chicano Poems: For the Barrio," published in 1977.

The Libraries also hold significant manuscript collections relating to later Chicana and Chicano literature, including the papers of Xavier Garza, John Phillip Santos, and Bárbara Renaud González, as well as the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Records.

About the image: Pa’delante Vamos by Angela de Hoyos of San Antonio. Front cover of Caracol, January 1978.