Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Joanna Levin

Second Advisor

Justine Van Meter

Third Advisor

Rei Magosaki


The trajectory of writer Luis Alberto Urrea stems from autobiography, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, yet his works are not widely taught in academic settings, nor is there substantial scholarly work discussed on his published works. This thesis focuses on Urrea’s trajectory in order to situate him as a realist writer, as I discuss Urrea alongside Amy Kaplan and Ramón J. Guerra. Alongside this I will also focus on his most unique aspect of realist writing that sets him apart from other realist writers, his use of English and Spanish within his works that forms itself into bilingualism. I will look into three examples of Urrea’s published works: Across The Wire: Life and Times on the Mexican Border (1993) details Urrea’s own experiences along the border as he educates readers on the lives, conditions, and language on the borderlands, The Tijuana Book of the Dead Poems (2015) depicts the blending of language within poetry alongside the experiences of Mexican-American immigrants, The House of Broken Angels (2019) describes a Mexican-American immigrant family’s struggles as they both mourn and celebrate over several days who simultaneously show a blending of English and Spanish known only at a familial level. I argue that Luis Alberto Urrea’s works require a deeper, academic discussion to allow for his realistic depictions to leave an impression on his readers, alongside placing Urrea within the realist tradition with his addition of language use. In looking at these works, a new aspect of realism has the ability to come forward within literature as we see Urrea use language in a progressive way. Across The Wire: Life and Times on the Mexican Border (1993) shows Urrea using Spanish to bring readers closer to the culture of those he describes. The Tijuana Book of the Dead Poems (2015) shows the coming together of the languages to depict experiences. The House of Broken Angels (2019) has a more colloquial take on language as Urrea uses it to show the intricacies of a domestic Mexican-American immigrants life. In placing these works in discussion together we can see how Urrea is depicting Latino/a realism.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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