Oscar Wao and literary blackness: Decoding the GhettoNerd




Solis, Caitlin D.

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In this research project, I examine literary blackness in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. The literary construct of the GhettoNerd, a character whose voice and worldview is informed not only by the harsh realities of inner-city life, but also by the other-worldliness of Genre and popular culture, stands as a testament to the cultural mixtape that is hip-hop. In this thesis, I argue that the GhettoNerd is useful for making visible historical trauma and exposing marginalization while articulating agency and self-determination. In the case of Oscar Wao, Díaz creates the GhettoNerd in a Dominican context as a vehicle for exposing the blanqueamiento, the trujillato, and the deracialization among the Dominican diaspora. The author counters the effects of deracialization by showing how the characters grapple with and assert their identity. One of the ways this culturally conscious identity emerges is through creative cultural practices unique to the inner city such as hip-hop.

Through constructing literary blackness, Díaz counters the dominant narrative of Dominican identity. I have argued that through Oscar Wao, the author constructs a hip-hop informed literary blackness which combines popular culture and Genre mythology inside transborder and transchronos realities that is produced in an unapologetic use of Spanish and bilingual street vernacular. A linguistic cultural poetics facilitates the examination of history through the literary practices of the author.


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Dominican Republic, Junot Díaz, language, Latino, literary blackness, literature



Bicultural-Bilingual Studies