Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Carvalho


The late 20th and early 21st centuries have not only favored a steady growth in Chicana literary production but have also revealed an alternative identity of the Mexican American border woman, the meXicana. Rosa Linda Fregoso, in MeXicana Encounters (2003), coins and defines this term as “the interface between Mexicana and Chicana,” and employs it to examine the experiences and representations of Mexicanas and Chicanas without eliminating the differences between them. This study borrows this term but uses it specifically to describe North American women of Mexican origin whose identities and border-crossing experiences make it difficult to solely identify them as members of one of these two groups. With this in mind, this dissertation explores the representations and characteristics of the meXicana Bildungsroman, the coming-of-age story of women who are not recognizably Mexicana or Chicana, in the works of two meXicana writers: Santitos (1999) and Transportes González e Hija (2005) by María Amparo Escandón, and A través de cien montañas (2006) and La distancia entre nosotros (2013) by Reyna Grande. Since the works of these two authors have been usually understood and analyzed as Chicana literature, this study also contrasts them to the more typical Chicana Bildungsroman that Roberta Fernández presents in her novel Fronterizas: Una novela en seis cuentos (2001) in order to make a case for a new subgenre of the border woman coming-of-age story that does not align with the Chicana Bildungsroman.

Through the scope of gender, spatial, border, and postcolonial studies, this dissertation examines how Escandón and Grande construct Bildungen which question and expand traditional understandings of mestiza consciousness, the Mexican-U.S. American border, and the role of female communities. In doing so, this project argues that the main characteristics of the meXicana Bildungsroman are: the acceptance of an ambiguous identity as a result of overcoming feelings of loss, regret or trauma through the acquisition of a new mestiza consciousness, the transit through the Mexican-U.S. American borderlands (an area that is presented as a space of resistance and liberation), and the formation of meXicana communities which play a key role in the blossoming of the protagonists. Finally, this project also argues that the MeXicana Bildungsromane which these two authors present differ significantly from each other due to the writers’ distinct upbringings and personal immigration stories. While Escandón relies heavily on closed spaces to represent the Mexican-U.S. American border, and aims to challenge patriarchal discourses of gender and female autonomy in idealized communities, Grande constantly places her protagonists right at the border, while questioning official capitalist discourses on immigration with a transnational lens to humanize the figure of the undocumented immigrant.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)