Title: Ana Castillo Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1953-
Collection number: CEMA 2
Creator: Castillo, Ana
Extent: Seven linear feet
University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Donated by Ana Castillo, June 1990
Three subseries designated confidential at request of donor
Copyright resides with donor
Processed as part of the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA). Funded in
part by the Office of the President, University of California, under the provisions of
Senate Concurrent Resolution 43.
[Identification of item], Ana Castillo Papers, CEMA 2, Special Collections, University of
California, Santa Barbara.
Ana Castillo (June 15, 1953-) is a celebrated poet, novelist, short story writer, and
esaayist. Castillo was born and raised in Chicago. She has one son, Marcel Ramón Herrera,
born in Evanston, Illinois, on September 21, 1983. In 1993, Castillo married George R.
Esenwein, an associate professor of history at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
Long considered one of the leading voices to emerge from the Chicana experience, Castillo
is a prolific author whose work has been critically acclaimed and widely anthologized in
the United States and abroad. Ilan Stavans writes "She is the most daring and
experimental of Latino novelists." Castillo's books include the novel,
(Bilingual Review Press, 1986; Doubleday, 1992), for which
she received the Before Columbia Foundation's American Book Award in 1987.
Sapogonia (Bilingual Review Press, 1990), is a complex and engaging novel
and a literary triumph, according to the renowned Chicano novelist Rudolfo Anaya who
calls Castillo "one of our finest Chicana novelists." Her more recent books include the
So Far From God (Norton, 1993), which earned her both the Carl
Sandburg Literary Award in Fiction of 1993 and the Mountains and Plains Bookseller Award
of 1994, and a work of non-fiction,
Massacre of the Dreamers: Reflections on
Mexican-Indian Women in the United States 500 Years After the Conquest
(University of New Mexico, 1992). Michael Sinayerson writes in
that her essays "make the case for a new, agggressive brand of feminism she calls
Xicanisma, to win brown women a place in a black-and-white country." The 1991 edition of
Hispanic Writers describes Castillo's epistolary novel,
as a probing description of the relationship between the
sexes that encompasses both Mexican and United States Hispanic forms of love and gender
conflict. That work has been hailed as having "ushered the Chicana voice into the
feminist discourse with a bang." One critic of Chicana literature, Norma Alarcón, has
identified the deft use of irony as one of Castillo's trademarks. Another, Alvina
Quintana, believes that "her style reflects the influence and power of many of Latin
America's greatest writers."
As a poet Castillo is the author of several works, including the chapbooks
The Invitation (1979); these were followed by
several volumes of poetry which include
Women Are Not Roses (Arte Publico,
My Father Was a Toltec (West End Press, 1988). In reference to
Women Are Not Roses Marisa Cantu writes, "Castillo's artistry lies in her
ability to discover the meaning in the random experiences that fill our lives and
communicate directly to us in sensuous, heartfelt bursts of revelation."
Currently (1995) Castillo is coordinating an anthology on la Virgen de Guadalupe entitled
La Diosa de las Americas/Goddess of the Americas (Riverside/Putnam, 1996).
She has also signed a three-book contract with W. W. Norton: one of new poetry, another a
collection of short fictions, and the last one a novel.
Castillo, along with Norma Alarcon and others, co-founded the literary magazine
Third Woman; she has since been a contributing editor to
Humanizarte magazines. Castillo's speaking engagements
are extensive and have been internationally sponsored, including the Sorbonne University
(1985-1986), and a Germany reading tour (1987) sponsored by the German Association of
Americanists. In 1988 Castillo was honored by the Women's Foundation of San Francisco for
her "pioneering excellence in literature." She was featured, along with three other
renowned Chicana writers Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, and Denise Chávez, in
Vanity Fair (September 1994) and
Hispanic (March 1995).
Castillo's education was in Chicago. Following her graduation from Jone's Commercial High
School, she attended Chicago City College for two years before entering Northeastern
Illinois University, where she received a B.A. in 1975, majoring in Art and minoring in
Secondary Education. Castillo then relocated to Sonoma County, California where she
taught Ethnic Studies at Santa Rosa Jr. College in 1975-76. Between 1977 and 1979 she was
a writer in residence for the Illinois Arts Council. Due to her keen interest in Latin
America, she became a Graduate Fellow in 1979, earning an M.A. degree in Latin American
and Caribbean Studies in the Social Science Division at the University of Chicago. She
was a community activist throughout the 1970s. Throughout this period, Castillo taught
English as a Second Language, Mexican and Mexican American history in community colleges
in the Chicago and San Franisco areas. She returned to California from 1986 to 1990,
where she taught feminist journal writing, women's studies, creative writing, and Chicano
literature at various colleges and universities.
From 1989 to 1990 Castillo was a Dissertation Fellow in the Chicano Studies Department at
the University of California, Santa Barbara. It was there that she continued her work on
a new collection of poetry,
I Ask the Impossible, her collection of essays
Massacre of the Dreamers. From 1989 to 1994, she taught fiction
writing and Latina literature at several colleges, including the University of New
Mexico, Mill College of Oakland, CA, and Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA.
Supported partly by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in this period,
So Far from God: OK in 1993. It has been also published
in Great Britain, Germany, and elsewhere. Castillo received a Ph.D. in American Studies
from the University of Bremen, Germany, in 1991. In 1995, Castillo won a fellowship from
the National Endowment for the Arts for creative writing (fiction).
The contents of the Ana Castillo Collection represent the beginnings of a prolific
Chicana writer and teacher, whose body of work is expected to grow significantly as her
career continues to develop. The material in this collection provides much insight into
the formative processes in the evolution of a writer. The writings in the collection date
back to Castillo's college years; at the time, Castillo was active in organizing Latino
artists, the Association of Latino Brotherhood of Artists was one such group. Her first
Otro Canto (1977), reflects the socio-political themes of
oppression of Third World men and women. With the publication of
(1979), the thematic emphasis in her poetry is on feminist and Latina
sexuality. The Castillo Papers consist of daily journals, personal and professional
correspondence, files documenting Castillo's professional activities, a few photographs,
silkscreen drawings, and manuscripts to her published and unpublished writings. The
records date from 1973 to 1990 and are housed in sixteen archival boxes spanning seven
linear feet. The collection will be augmented on a continuing basis.
The collection is arranged into five series described as follows: