Dr. Gloria E. Anzaldúa Literary Landmark
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Library
Gloria Anzaldúa (1942 - 2004) was a native of the Rio Grande Valley area. She was born in Raymondville, graduated from Texas Pan Am University (now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) and the University of Texas at Austin, and later lived in and is buried in Hargill. Anzaldúa wrote a number of books in her life but is best known for Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, published in 1987 by Aunt Lute Books in San Francisco. The book was hailed at the time of publication (it was named by Library Journal as one of the 38 best books of 1987), but has continued to grow in importance in the three decades since publication and is now widely considered a groundbreaking classic. The book became a foundational work in the areas of border studies, Chicana feminism, and LGBTQ rights. Anzaldua was openly a lesbian and wrote about it, which was quite unusual at the time, especially among Hispanic writers. It cleared a path for a generation of authors that includes Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, Ana Castillo, and Norma Cantú, all of whom wrote essays praising Anzaldúa and her huge influence in an introduction to the 20th anniversary edition of Borderlands/La Frontera in 2007.
The book is a unique hybrid: the first half contains essays about border culture, and the second half is poetry. The combination is a powerful examination of the complex cultural mix of the Rio Grande border region and the unique experience of people living there. Anzaldúa’s writing is consistently noted for its raw power and eloquence. Anzaldúa wrote a number of other books, as well—for both adults and children. One particularly interesting children’s title, Prietita and the Ghost Woman/Prietita y la llorona, about the legend of La Llorona, which she recasts as a more sympathetic cultural icon. Anzaldúa died of diabetes at the age of 61 in 2004 and is buried in Hargill.
About the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Edinburg Library
Gloria E. Anzaldúa graduated from Pan American College, now known University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Edinburg (UTRGV). The library’s prominent location offers premier visibility on the Edinburg campus and in the Valley and reminds visitors that Anzaldúa’s early work was undoubtedly inspired as a student in 1960s. The Edinburg campus is centrally located in the Rio Grande Valley, where the local Gloria Anzaldúa Legacy Project (GAL Project) was formed and continues to work to ensure that Anzaldúa and her legacy remain viable to the Valley community; students as well as community will have access to the location and the UTRGV Center for Mexican American Studies annual event in her honor, El Retorno, including those who make the trip to UTRGV when they attend the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa El Mundo Zurdo conference in San Antonio. One of UTRGV's goals as one of the largest Hispanic-serving institutions in the nation is to become a Bilingual, Bicultural, and Biliterate (B3) university. For the past few years, the B3 Institute on campus, where the Center for Mexican American Studies is housed, has engaged in this work.