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PhD candidate @ Penn State University


Wendyliz Martinez is a current PhD student in English and African American Studies at Penn State University. She is a City College of New York and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow Alumni. Her research interests include Caribbean literature, Afrofuturism, and the digital humanities. She will have a chapter featured about Black girls and Tik Tok in the upcoming publication TikTok Cultures in the United States

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Queering Motherhood: Radical Love and Breaking Generational Trauma in Dominican and Puerto Rican Literature

In her book All About Love: New Visions, bell hooks write that this text ‘provides radical new ways to think about the art of loving, offering a hopeful, joyous vision of love’s transformative power.’ One of the types of relationships hooks analyses is the family dynamic and the ways that culturally it has been warped by patriarchy, capitalism, sexism, etc. Mothers are often represented in the media as a figure that affects people not just in childhood but in their adulthood. In hooks’ analysis, parents are responsible for one of the first instances of providing love and laying the foundation for a person to recognize and understand love. In the books, Song of the Water Saints by Nelly Rosario, Sirena Selena by Mayra Santos-Febres, and Soledad by Angie Cruz, mothers are important figures that heavily impact the protagonist. Within each novel, which takes place in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the United States respectively, there is generational trauma that is informed by the mother figure that the protagonist must contend with. Each novel offers different outcomes and solutions for what is possible to break generational trauma. Using hooks' analysis and theory of love along with queer theory, so that mothering is queered, I use these literary texts as a way to contribute to the conversation of how mothering can inform and/or break generational trauma that stems from colonisation.

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