MMUF Cohort 11 (2018-2019)

Angel Alcantar '21, English Major

Challenging the Canon: Implementing Young Adult Fiction in American Secondary Classrooms

In the last decade there has been a substantial growth within the young adult fiction genre with increasing numbers of publications and changes in the style of writing implemented. However, there is not any proportional study of genre due to perceptions the genre holding very little literary merit allowing for classroom inclusion at the secondary level. It has been delineated to pleasure reading or commercial fiction due to the high popularity of such title as Harry Potter and Twilight as well as its history as a middle school literature. However, the current state of Young Adult fiction far surpasses these perceptions through challenging the very essence of what a great text is providing several avenues to meet standards set by the Common Core developed by the U.S. Department of Education. YA fiction uses three strong characteristics to increase textual complexity without the need of increasing difficulty: formal experimentation, diverse experiences, and complex political narratives informed by literary theory, such as Marxism, Gender Studies, and Sexuality Studies. YA fiction however can do more than simply meet standards; it’s inherited benefits lay in its appeal to young readers allowing for implementation of educational pedagogies attempting to use interconnectedness to form bonds with students to raise student engagement, and thus achievement. Using the Common Core State Standards at the secondary level as a metric for understanding textual complexity this project will use a survey of young adult fiction novels alongside literary analysis to demonstrate the literary merit within the genre that makes young adult literature be as equally worthy of inclusion in classrooms as canonical text, and sometimes offering more within a single novel through surpassing goals of the Common core and meeting goals of educational pedagogy.

Isa Castillo '20, Spanish Major, Latino Studies Minor

“Crop Tops, Lonjas, and Self Love”: Lessons from a Fat, Fly, Brown Poet

U.S. gender roles, racial stereotypes, and beauty standards have all contributed to the formation of a hegemonic idea and expectation of what the Latina body can and should look like. These expectations were accepted by mainstream culture in order to subdue Latinas into believing that their worth as humans rested solely upon what their bodies looked like and could provide to men. Over the years, Latina authors have used their writing to reject these standards and reclaim authority over their bodies in order to create a space of healing for themselves and their readers. A contemporary writer that is continuing this important work is Salvadoran American poet Yesika Salgado. In my project, I assert that Yesika Salgado’s body positive discourse and sexuality challenge U.S. social constructs imposed onto the Latina body through her reclamation of the word fat, the way in which she asserts her sexuality, and by her rejection of common expectations, such as motherhood, that have been imposed onto Latina bodies. I explain how American society has tokenized a specific image of how a Latina body should exist in terms of both aesthetics and functionality in order to highlight the ways in which Salgado is actively deviating from said expectations. Salgado’s writing does not simply try and create a more inclusive idea of what the Latina body can look like, but rather her work ruptures the confinements associated with the Latina body in order to affirm the notion that embodying a Latina body is a personal and individual experience. Salgado is finding liberation by embracing her own definition of what it means to navigate the world with her Latina body-or as she describes, her “fat, fly, brown” body.

Dynette Chavez '21, Anthropology Major

Repatriation among Native Americans and the revitalization of spirituality within their communities.

For centuries Native Americans have endured genocide, massacres, and misguided policies by the U.S. government. Throughout the historical battles and conflicts between the government and Native Americans, many objects of cultural patrimony were taken without consent. This project involves describing how repatriation reconstructs the identities of Native American people. Repatriation is the return of artifacts or human remains to different Native communities. The goal is how repatriation revitalizes spirituality within Native American communities. The project focuses specifically on the aspect of spirituality because the returning of an object may heal Native communities and allow the culture to flourish. The Native American Graves Protection Act enacted on November 16, 1990, assists in helping bring about the return of sacred and ceremonial objects to the tribes and nations. By using NAGPRA and repatriation cases from various Native American tribes throughout the Southwest, this research specifically centers on how spirituality contributes to the process of repatriation. This research will also highlight how important spiritual identity is to Native American people and how it impacts their communities.

Elvira de la Torre '21, Sociology Major, Latino Studies Minor

"These Hipsters Don’t Seem to Understand”: How Gentrification Reduces Community Trust in Search of Public Safety in Echo Park

Before Echo Park became a tourist location and a home to various artists, it was a neighborhood that was inhabited by bodies labeled as deviant: low-income people of color. Gentrification in Echo Park has played a crucial role in not only transforming the physical space of the community by implementing urban renewal and increasing the cost of living, but it has also established new social relationships among young men of color and community members. I argue that gentrification changes community social relationships and definitions of crime and deviance in Echo Park since the community has split into those who surveil deviant bodies and those who seek to protect the neighborhood, thus reducing levels of trust among residents. Most literature on gentrification focuses on the visible and physical transformation of space but not on the impact gentrification has on long time relationships community residents have with one another. To capture the perceptions of community residents, business owners, and gang members about gentrification, 11 interviews and 2 focus groups with 2 and 3 people, fieldnotes were conducted in Echo Park, and quantitative data from the Los Angeles Crime Mapping system is presented. Likewise, to showcase how the community socially transforms under gentrification, deviance, neighborhood effects, and racial fix are used as key concepts. Although residents recall having stronger collective efficacy- neighborhood trust that supports community cohesion- with their neighbors before gentrification commenced, they recognize the value that whiteness, which fixes social and economic values in communities, has in the displacement of folks who participate in the local gang, thus making the community safer. They also call for an increase in police presence in the community even though the gang has become more private than in the earlier 2000s. For their part, gang members perceived a loss in community trust and unity since new upper- and middle-class residents avoid having any interaction with men who take up public space. Future research should include interviews that can be conducted with incoming residents and business owners to grasp a holistic perspective about crime and in an era of rapid neighborhood changes.

Stephanie Whang '21, History and Anthropology Major, Art History Minor

Asian American Radicalism and the Model Minority Myth

Even amidst rising interest in diversity and radicalism in the United States, Asian American radical participation in groups and movements is often overlooked in readings of the civil rights movement. Asian American radical groups of the 1960s and 1970s were in consistent dialogue with other ethnic/racial groups, such as the Black Panthers and Brown Berets, over concerns of self-determination, community control, capitalism, and national and international coalitional politics. This moment is significant as it is where an Asian American identity comes into focus, not only through exposure to Black Power ideologies but in growing concerns around social issues. Despite ideological similarities, Asian American political participation is lost in the discourse around radicalism and the perception of inactivity encouraged by the Model Minority myth. The Model Minority is a term referring to Asian Americans and claims that Asian Americans make ‘model’ citizens in relation to other ethnic/racial groups because of preconceived notions of political passivity. My research asks: How does the illusion of the Model Minority impact discussion of Asian American radicalism during the civil rights movement? Why is the civil rights movement the moment where the Model Minority becomes a crucial lens through which to understanding the overlap between radical ideologies of the Black Panthers, the Brown Berets, and Asian American Radicalism. I investigate the long-standing historical and colonial impact of the Model Minority myth that impacts perception of Asian American radicalism by looking through the Carlos Montes Papers of the Cal State LA archive and various civil rights archives to put them in conversation with racial triangulation, identity formation, decolonizing frameworks, and the Model Minority myth. This research will help illuminate how the concept of the Model Minority upholds the system of white supremacy when not put into conversation with the ways Asian Americans sought to resist it.