The Catholic experience in the Texas-US borderlands represents a void within the humanities. The attitudes that surround the topic of religion in socio-historical and literary studies have limited the scope of works. Two of the most problematic biases are the pro and anti-Catholic discourses that have been intertwined with national political agendas in both countries. They have created important obstacles that complicate the study and understanding of the identities that have arisen since the conquest. In the border, a significant percent of Mexican families maintain strong links to Catholic practices and beliefs despite living under the pressures of Americanization and secularization that are deeply rooted in the anti-clerical discourse. On the other hand, pro-Catholic approaches often lose sight of the realities found in the margins of society, as they can be over-reactionary to perceived attacks.
Taking this counterpoint in consideration, this dissertation studies the multiple faces of Catholicism portrayed in the contemporary narratives of Texas: La Gran Ladroner?a en el Lejano Norte 2013 of Carmen Boullosa and in Generaciones y Semblanzas 1977, Claros Varones de Belken 1986 and Becky and her Friends 1990, all three novels of Rolando Hinojosa's Klail City Death Trip Series. This analysis is situated within pro and anti-Catholic discourses, as well as with the critical works on cultural change of anthropologists such as Fernando Ortiz, Gonzalo Aguirre Beltr?n, Clifford Geertz, Elizabeth Fernea, and Dan Rose. Some of the historians considered with regards to the subject of Mexican-American culture and religious change are Albert Camarillo, Robert Wright O.M.I, Carlos E. Casta?eda, Timothy Matovina, and Robert Trevi?o. The works of these critics, in conjunction with the study of the borderland titles, allow for the possibility of re-tracing the Mexican-American Catholic experience in the Rio Grande Valley starting from the years that immediately followed the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848. Ultimately, this dissertation allows for a better understanding of the religion shared by many generations of Mexican Americans and proves that Boullosa and Hinojosa's works are crucial in understanding the processes responsible for the generational shifts and reactions that many historiographers have noted in the study of the borderlands.
- Luiselli, Alessandra Professor