New Latinx Feelings: Race, Affect, And Form In Queer Latinx Literature

Thomas Conners, University of Pennsylvania


This project looks to US Latinx cultural production to trace how colorblind social discourse has rendered racial difference mute, as opposed to moot, as conversations of gender and sexuality appear to take its place. While Latinx Studies coalesced during the Cultural Movements of the 1960s and 1970s around an explicitly ethnoracial, heterosexual identity, from the late 1990s on it has contended with deracialized language and homonormativity resulting from colorblindness and the mainstreaming of LGBTQ rights. Through analyses of queer(ed) literary production of a post-1990s Latinx MFA generation, I argue that literary form registers feelings of racialization in narratives about sexuality, positioning both form and feeling as new metrics of Latinx historiography, interpretation, and subjectivity. By reading legal cases alongside novels and short stories, I sustain that Latinx literature does what colorblind law refuses to do by apprehending race and indicting racism in the literary structures of texts that otherwise appear predominantly, if not exclusively, queer. After all, if colorblindness discursively removes race from language despite its continuing structural presence, and if queerness has long existed as unspeakable sentiments, then these sociohistorical shifts demand an engagement with form and feeling.