Literary and Critical Theory Gloria E. Anzaldúa
Vivian Rodríguez-Rocha, Gloria González-López
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 October 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190221911-0086


Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa was born in Raymondville, Texas in 1942. A self-described Chicana feminist lesbian writer and cultural theorist, her work has been pivotal for the development of Chicana and Chicano Studies (also Chicana/o Studies) and has had a significant impact in the fields of queer studies, disability studies, women’s and gender studies, Chicana feminism, and critical race theory. Anzaldúa’s works are as multifaceted as she was. They comprise a wide range of genres, from the more traditional essay to the self-developed autohistoria, along with drawings, children’s books, fiction, and poetry. Her writings engage in complex theorizations regarding identity, subjectivity, epistemology, embodiment, politics, spirituality, and social transformation—all written in an approachable style. Borderlands theory, arguably her most notable contribution across different fields and disciplines, is developed at length in Borderlands/La Frontera and based on her own experiences growing up in the U.S.–Mexico border as a sixth generation Chicana. This acclaimed book has been consistently engaged with across the disciplinary board in Western academia and beyond. Her series of edited collections of writings by women of color and, in particular, This Bridge Called My Back have also become canonical texts for literary studies. A devoted student and educator, Anzaldúa graduated college with a bachelor of arts in English and Education, taught in the Texas school system, earned a master’s degree, and later made most of her income as a lecturer in universities all over the country. At the time of her death, she had attained all but dissertation status in a doctoral program at UC Santa Cruz and was working on her dissertation. A doctoral degree was awarded to her posthumously on the basis of previous merits. However, her relationship with academia was always tense, marked by a constant struggle to legitimize her chosen topics of study, methods, and writing style—famously unwilling to conform to Western academic standards through her signature use of code-switching, the resignification of indigenous symbolism, and her engagement with spirituality in serious theoretical terms. She died in May 2004 from diabetes complications. Upon her death a wealth of materials from her life and work were collected in a dedicated archive housed at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2007, Chicana writer and professor Norma Elia Cantú founded the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa (SSGA) to establish a space for academic communities and beyond for the development of Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s inspirational intellectual contributions.

Primary Works

Anzaldúa’s primary works can be broadly divided into Authored Books and Collected Works, books that were edited by Anzaldúa, either individually or in collaboration (Edited Books), Autohistoria-teoría and Essay where she theorized from her personal experience, and wide variety of creative writings, including fiction and poetry (Creative Writing: Autohistoria, Fiction, and Poetry).

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