Date of Award


Degree Type

Restricted to Claremont Colleges Dissertation

Degree Name

English, PhD


School of Arts and Humanities

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

David Luis-Brown

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Wendy Martin

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Daniel Ramírez

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2020 Alexander Lalama

Subject Categories

Latin American Literature | Music


¡¿Y Que?! investigates Latinx characters in literature and popular culture who participate in rock music subcultures as a resistive tool for navigating the intercultural experiences of Latinxs living in the U.S. and beyond. Subcultures like punk, goth, and Morrissey fandom are zones of contact and crossover, spaces where Latinxs world-travel and engage in the project of questioning dominant values of U.S. culture and also celebrate their outsider status within their heritage culture. These subcultures are built around music that elides the mainstream, that skulks in the shadows of underground venues and risqué clubs, and is not designed for mass consumption. Rather than jazz clubs and mambo performances that are often associated with Latinx culture, this project examines characters in texts from authors Cristina García, Junot Díaz, and Caridad Svich, as well as the popular television series Parks and Recreation and Orange is the New Black, that find themselves drawn to the more loud, disruptive, angular, and discordant sounds of punk, goth, and alternative rock music. The subcultures that develop around these types of music generate spaces where these characters, amidst their status as living within a nation or culture but excluded from it, can navigate their own identification and self-making. These Latinx characters affiliate themselves with these predominately Anglo, suburban, and outsider music subcultures to access the potential power of hybridization to develop new lexicons and modes of being that challenge patriarchal, colonial, racial, and heteronormative regimes. These characters disrupt the notions of Latinidad perpetuated by U.S. depictions of Latinxs, as well as those that perpetuate static, delimiting notions of Latinidad within Latinx groups as well. Through accessing these subcultures, Latinx characters in these texts borrow, manipulate, and reshape elements that allow them another level of resistance, one that allows Latinxs to engage in the project of questioning dominant values of U.S. culture and also celebrating their outsider status within their own heritage culture.