Dancing Danny

Dec 7, 2022

Published in Articles | Issue 5

Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés, University of Central Florida


To watch “Dancing Danny” with closed captions, click here.



This [essay] is dedicated to the storytellers/ as far back as memory goes and
To the telling/ which continues and through which they all live/ and we with them

Leslie Marmon Silko, Storyteller

After Silko dedicates her book to storytellers in her past, she goes on to thank Denny “for helping me bring together the stories and the photographs which are themselves part of the stories.”

Silko is among the many writers and thinkers and artists that helped me bring this video essay and reflection together. Storyteller was the first book I pulled from my shelf when I began this origin story, a cultural rhetorics reflection of my video essay “Dancing Danny.” I remembered (yes, this is a story about memory too) Silko’s beautiful photos, poems, and stories, the importance of these, and how all were woven together. Storyteller’s first unnumbered page includes a poem/story about the Hopi basket that held hundreds of photographs. 

Photographs have always had a special significance
with the people of my family and the people at Laguna.
A photograph is serious business and many people
still do not trust just anyone to take their picture.

It wasn’t until I began this book
that I realized that the photographs in the Hopi basket
have a special relationship to the stories as I remember them.
The photographs are here because they are part of many of the stories
and because many of the stories can be traced in the photographs (1).

“Dancing Danny” was birthed through film, photos, and story.

Danny and me in Adventura Hospital in Miami. August 2015.

 I am so grateful to Malea Powell for her invaluable work—speaking, writing, and editing. Gracias a Victor Villanueva y Judith Ortiz Cofer por todo. I am grateful for all the storytellers of my youth and in my community and families without whom I could not write.

I wish to acknowledge those on whose land and spaces me and my family lived and where I live and do my work now. The Lenni-Lenape of the Northeastern New Jersey and the mid-Atlantic region where my parents took us to be in nature. And South Florida, especially Miami where the Tequesta and Seminole live(d). In Orlando where I live and work now, I acknowledge the lands taken from the Timucua, Seminole, and Tocobaga peoples on whose land the University of Central Florida sits. In the mid-twentieth century, before the university was founded, this area was a stomping ground for KKK rallies. I need to acknowledge the blood, so much blood, of the indigenous peoples and Africans and African Americans that soaked this peninsula for centuries.

This is a true story. All the gaps in my life, I filled with stories. I am the daughter of Cuban immigrants, the first in the paternal and maternal lines born in the United States. Ancestry.com—which my anthropologist daughter said is bullshit—claims my ancestry is ~85% European (mostly Spanish/Portuguese), ~12% African (Nigerian/Northern African—includes the Canary Islands), and 2% Indigenous Cuban/Indigenous Americas. We (I’m calling myself Cuban here) have a saying about our mixed heritages, “el que no tiene de Congo, tiene de Carabalí” (in other words, you Black). But can I be indigenous too? Can it explain my deep connection to Native American literature and culture and cosmology? 

Origin Story

To write this prologue is to write about how I came to writing. To try to piece together and contextualize how I make meaning through story. Like Toni Morrison, I too believe that narrative is “—one of the principal ways in which we acquire, hold and digest information.” Her Nobel Lecture remains foundational to the word-work I do. We (I’m calling myself a storyteller here) believe that language is alive and that “the vitality of language lies in its ability to limn the actual, imagined and possible lives of its speakers, readers, writers. Although its poise is sometimes in displacing experience it is not a substitute for it. It arcs toward the place where meaning may lie.” I could not replicate my parents’ immigrant experience, or my brother’s childhood, or our early American lives in “Dancing Danny,” even with video and photographic “evidence,” but I could try to make sense of it.

A family portrait in Apartment C. 1964.

My mother is the one who took and kept the photographs of our small, stateside family. She didn’t have many from Cuba. It wasn’t until 1979 when exiles were “invited” back to the island, her first return in twenty years, that her mother and sisters gave her some of their “old” family photos—photos of the time before I or even she existed (she’s the middle child and her father died when she was seven, all her grandparents but one dead by then). These old photos are precious to her, entrusted to me to scan and return. I am claiming the importance of family photographs and home movies for my own storytelling.

Photographs augment, kindle, and refute memory. Super 8 films are silent, but they too amplify and kindle memory and spark story.

Powell, Levy, Riley-Mukavetz, et al.’s “Our Story begins here: Constellating cultural rhetorics” made me understand the necessity to constellate with my mother about my essay “Dancing Danny”—even before it became a video essay. In “Our Story Begins Here,” the authors state that to constellate is to acknowledge and emphasize my work as: 

inside a constellation of relationships with other decolonial scholars like Shawn Wilson, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Qwo-Li Driskill, and Malea Powell . . .  to understand the making of cultures and the practices that call them into being as relational and constellated. All cultural practices are built, shaped, and dismantled based on the encounters people have with one another within and across particular systems of shared belief.

Mami read my essay and called me weeping. She couldn’t talk about it, only asking, do you want more photos? When the video was finished, she and I watched it together in tears and silence. When we were able to speak, we spoke of Danny’s youth and promise and terrible end.

I knew I needed to constellate with our beloved childhood babysitter, Yolanda, a sister/friend, who later became my comadre[1] about this work. She only said, “That’s so good.” She watched the video essay twice by my side. My compadre saw it too; both saw themselves in the footage, noted so many of our loved ones gone. We reminisced about my brother and his sweet, romantic nature (he had proposed to Yoly at seven or eight years old), his rambunctiousness—un buenote as an adult and overall good guy.

Danny and me with our neighbors for Halloween. Circa 1964.

 “It’s not unusual for us to be literature scholars, publishing poets or essayists or fiction writers and rhetoric scholars all at once” (Powell, American Indian Caucus, Part 1); this was certainly the case with me. I studied with reader response critic Judith Fetterley and Composition and Rhetoric scholar Lil Brannon, both proponents of critical pedagogy. I was mentored by African Americanist specialist extraordinaire Barbara McCaskill, was trained among storytellers and fiction writers, and was transformed by Women’s Studies where intertextuality was the norm and I learned to facilitate feminist pedagogy. Yet, in my doctoral program, I was an outlier. At the time, the doctorate was intradisciplinary; my focus on feminist literary theory, composition, African American women writers, and fiction was all within the confines of the Department of English. Never comfortable with confinement, I sought out and minored in Latin American and Caribbean Studies where I finally saw others like myself and learned about decolonial practice. A cultural rhetorics approach is thus organic to me and, if anyone was primed for hybrid, cross-genre writing, that would be me. Through working class scholars/authors of color, especially bell hooks but also others like James Berlin and Ira Shor, I began to inhabit the role of emerging scholar/writer/teacher. Such a background facilitated dialogic, intersectional teaching and writing that has been deeply rewarding and earned me a place in an “industry” that remains predominantly white.[2] 

When I was just a baby academic in the early 1990s—a brand new beginning assistant professor in English—I came across some scholarly writing that wasn’t traditionally “scholarly.” My attraction to such work may have been related to my fear of what the expectations were of my own scholarly writing; well, yes, I was terrified. Was I spread too thin in my specializations? The stink of imposter syndrome engendered by being a working-class woman of color, child of immigrants made me feel insecure and unworthy to be in academe. It is nevertheless so that I had had some early success: a chapter in a book on the teaching of composition and resistance to critical pedagogy published while still in grad school, if you can imagine! Then another chapter on working class academics shortly thereafter.[3]I even had the gall to get pregnant while dissertating and held off taking a job for a year to be with my baby. 

So, yes, my grad work led me to this moment. 

My feminist teachers led me to this moment.

My community, the Latinx Caribbean immigrants/exiles; the children of European immigrants; the African American children of families who headed north in the Great Migration led me to this moment.

My body led me to this moment.

My histories brought me to this moment.

This moment of attempting, of striving toward meaning.

My family at my birthday celebration.

In searching for my own place in literary studies, I researched cross-genre writing, and at the time, it seemed like everybody was doing it. Patricia J. Williams’ An Alchemy of Race and Rights. Carolyn Kay Steedman’s Landscape for a Good Woman: A Story of Two Lives. Ruth Behar’s Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story and Nancy Mairs’ Remembering the Bone House. The common factor among these works is the role of memoir/autobiography juxtaposed with/in each author’s scholarly field. This cross-genre, hybrid work and autobiographical literary criticism was explored in Diane P. Freedman’s edited collection An Alchemy of Genre: Cross-Genre Writing by American Feminist Poet-Critics and in the co-edited volume with Olivia Frey Autobiographical Writing Across the Disciplines: A Reader. I was enthralled and delighted to see so many scholars and authors I admired were constellated within this large, loose category—Henry Louis Gates Jr., Maxine Hong Kingston, Jane Tompkins. Then I remembered Judith Fetterley’s statement about literary criticism being the story of the critic.

Excited and motivated by these works, my first attempt at cross-genre writing revolved around la Maestra Toni Morrison; Sula had set me on a lifelong journey for the type of transformative, regenerative writing to which I remain committed. I’m not saying I’ve arrived at the destination; I’m saying the process, purpose, and attempting is what’s important. Researching Morrison at the Schomburg the summer I was teaching and engrossed in Jazz and NYC led to “A Journey toward Voice; or, Constructing One Latina’s Poetics.”[4] My writing about composition and rhetoric was always drawn from my story as a teacher. My writing about literature was my story as a reader. And my fiction, poetry, and nonfiction are drawn from my experience in community, of community, and for community. 

Early on, I got really good at conference presentations—they are, after all, performances and, as evidenced by the video essay, I was used to being in front of an audience. I performed as an academic but stopped at that, never turning those dozens and dozens of presentations into articles like my mentors and senior colleagues urged me to do. Was what I had to say about this or that or whatever really of interest to others? Could I convey the dynamic of call/response/ Q&A/live presentations in two-dimensional text? To be clear, by then I was tenured. I had a level of privilege. I didn’t have to publish or perish at the teaching school where I started out or where I ended up either. Sure, I’d get relegated to “below satisfactory” rankings for scholarship/creative production and the “cost” would be few or no raises to my pitiful salary. Maybe a shitty schedule. But my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t even try.

Celebrating my tenth birthday with my family in 1970.

Then I was awarded my first sabbatical. This time, I was determined to return to literary criticism, maybe to finally overcome my insecurities and prove myself. I would focus on Latinx women writers, the focus of much of my teaching. I had plans to do archival research. Then, literally one week after the semester ended and I was about to embark on my work, I discovered I had breast cancer. I was lucky; found early and treated aggressively, I was cleared after six months of surgeries. After such an experience, a re-evaluation of one’s life is in order. In my case, I asked myself: what is it, in my heart, that I really want to write? It certainly wasn’t literary criticism. I chose storytelling over scholarship. I returned to the stories in my dissertation. As I read one after another, I thought to myself: these still stand up. They are good (I gave myself permission to value my own writing). 

Marielitos, Balseros and Other Exiles was published the year I returned from sabbatical; I was finally, in my mind and in my heart, what I always wanted to be—a writer. Before, I had only considered folks with books to be authors, legit writers. But here was proof: my book with my name on it with my stories in it. These were the stories of my community—Cubans in various states of exile/migration navigating their lives in South Florida. Perhaps not even the most significant ones, but they were the stories I thought were a better, fuller representation of the community in which I, my entire family, and in-laws, are included. Once I gave myself permission to call myself a writer, an author, I didn’t turn back. I began submitting. A mere year later, I was awarded a little poetry prize—the 2010 Longleaf Chapbook Prize. Honestly, I was stunned; could it be that my writing really mattered? Another collection of stories followed in 2015 and, in that moment, I could almost exhale.  

Early in the 2010s, I was teaching representations of Latinx in media and was already familiar with Alexandra Hidalgo’s documentary work; we became friends. I used her short film Perfect about Venezuelans’ attitudes about breast augmentation and body image; later, I screened her feature documentary Vanishing Borders at my school. I loved the women’s immigration stories, the intimate access to their lives. Yet it had not occurred to me that I would one day incorporate moving image into my work, whether teaching composition, literature, or in my own creative writing. It was around this time that I came into possession of a treasure trove of Super 8 home movies. My mother told me she was throwing out the boxes upon boxes of reels taking up space in her closet; I felt compelled to save them. Curious, I borrowed a decrepit, sometimes reliable projector and spent a summer watching many of the short (usually three minute) silent films. What I observed in those reels was more than just home movies; there was historical value there. Documentation of an immigrant family’s slow climb from lower working class to upper working class in the 1960s through the 1970s. The furnishings told stories; the television set prominently visible in the living room—along with the large portrait of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ above it—told stories. How my parents dressed and how they dressed us spoke to our aspirational status as well as those friends who celebrated with us. The films recorded our journey in America, from apartment dwellers to homeowners, from drivers of old jalopies to newer old cars to the eventual purchase of a new van (for my father’s first business as yard man). The films detailed the efforts my parents made to make us American.

Papi, me, Danny, Louie, and cousin Armando on our station wagon.

My first idea was a timid one; use the Super 8 footage as background visuals for readings. I worked with a graduate student[5] to edit together a film I used as the moving backdrop for a reading of my story “Barbie Doll”—an early attempt at incorporating film into performance. My university community provided funds through grants to get some reels digitized.[6] Then my brother died.

“Dancing Danny” is my attempt to tell a visual story about my brother, but of course, it’s more than that. It is work drawn from a community of literary influences. For years, I thought of one of my favorite essays by Judith Ortiz Cofer, “Silent Dancing,” from which her book title is taken. Cofer describes a silent film of a house party with all the finely dressed adults enjoying drinks, food, and lots of dancing. She was just a young child, perhaps too young to join the revelers, but as an adult viewing the film, she muses on the partygoers’ lives, amazed at the women’s fancy, beautiful, and sexy dresses, high heels, and bright lipstick. Cofer’s essay stayed with me.

Encountering—if there is a better way of stating it, I can’t say—Hidalgo’s Pixelating the Self: Digital Feminist Memoirs fascinated me. How the women in the collection incorporated sound, photos, film, and digital media to speak to/of their lives while also making scholarly arguments so impressed me that I wanted to try my hand at multimodal writing and digital storytelling. The video essay I eventually made required community, not just my parents’ parts but the knowledge and experience of two film majors who patiently, over several months, worked with me; finally, Kevin Meehan, a dear friend and colleague whose faith in my work never ceases to amaze me, helped bring “Dancing Danny” home.[7] Another, more recent spark was Ta-Nehisi Coates’ rendering of Harriet Tubman’s magical power in The Water Dancer where characters cross time and place through story: “‘The jump is done by the power of story. It pulls from our particular histories, from all of our loves and all of our losses. All of that feeling is called up, and on the strength of our remembrances, we are moved’” (278).  “Dancing Danny” is a story about my immigrant parents and how they carved out a life for themselves and for us in a place that wasn’t welcoming, was intimidating, and downright dangerous. It is a video essay that incorporates photographs and home movies that my parents shot from around 1965 until camcorders became affordable around 1979. These silent filmstrips range in time from when my brother was around two and I was five until we were in our late teens and the Super 8 camera was put away to collect dust.

Another important influence is longtime friend, mentor, and hermano Victor Villanueva. His scholarship, style, and his delivery has dazzled me over the years. And as much as these have impacted me, it is his friendship that I most treasure. In preparing this arroz con mango of my own cultural rhetorics, I revisited his “Colonial Memory, Colonial Research: A Preamble to a Case Study” that incorporates Victor’s memories, his father’s memories, Puerto Rican history, and U.S. imperialist power/control over the island. It is a postcolonial/neocolonial critique; I think it is an early piece of cultural rhetorics in a volume of such.[8] It gets at the pain, shame, and loss resulting from the omissions and erasures of Americanization. And it is a story; above all, Victor is a great storyteller. The last family story in his essay is of the last time he had his parents in his living room, dancing to 1940s Cuban mambo, dancing “dirty mambo”—Puerto Rican style: “I had kindled their memory. And I had kindled my own, my parents and how they partied when I was young” (91). Victor describes the shame he felt/feels at not having more of his father’s/his own Puerto Rican stories, shame/pena at not having the language to read Pedro Albizu Campos’ speeches in Spanish, proud of his heritage yet “embarrassed to confront it because of the postcolonial process of erasure and the substitution of the loss of memory with myth, the myth that a language, Spanish, is a race” (91). A couple of years ago, Victor’s mom died after falling into a dementia that closed out her English; Spanish became her only and dominant tongue. Victor “discovered that somewhere deep inside me the Spanish of my first six years was still there” (personal communication). My text response to him was “I KNEW the Spanish was in you!” 

While Victor’s parents may have acquiesced to an English-dominant community, my parents never stopped speaking to my brother and I in Spanish. I am comfortable in Spanish, though not always confident but never ashamed like Victor was made to feel. Spanish remains the dominant tongue I use with my parents though my brother and I only spoke English to each other. Wait, not so. When he was around his abusive, vindictive spouse, we used Spanish—a code he regained fluency in after years of ignoring it. Danny had the Spanish in him.

This video essay subtly mentions the colorism and fear of “Americans” that my parents betrayed when they avoided taking us to the local pool that was packed with kids of color—my mother, the granddaughter of a dark-skinned mulata, knew she was marked by color when she first arrived in the U.S. in the 1950s and headed to el norte after she saw the water fountains in Miami were designated for Coloreds or Whites. My lighter-skinned father had been arrested for driving while brown in an upper middle-class Jersey neighborhood. Like many Caribeños, they understood perfectly that African Americans were oppressed and discriminated against by whites and that aligning themselves with them meant even more struggle for themselves. My parents saw on the nightly news how African Americans protested, how so many of their leaders were assassinated; maybe mami and papi were afraid. Maybe the safest route to survive in times of such turmoil was to keep their heads down, work, avoid conflict, be invisible to “others.” And anyway, my parents’ limited English limited their opportunities for socializing outside of a Latinx community. Not so with Danny and me. My brother and I had more access to a wider array of people via public school and playing on the block. Schoolyard fights provided up-close experience with African American classmates; we saw how they refused to take shit from anyone, not just our teachers. If only we had had an education that included a broader knowledge of African American history, culture, and activism, we children of immigrants might have had the desire to learn our own histories. At least we had stories; shared at church gatherings, birthday parties, backyard barbecues, I had an ear and hunger for them.

Danny on his way to the prom.

Recently, I visited my ninety-two-year-old father, and I asked him if there were “afeminados”[9] in his tiny pueblo on the island as a way into a conversation about why he didn’t like Danny wrestling. His answer stunned me, first, because he said there were none; secondly, because he said—in the most nonchalant way possible—that young boys played around with each other but not as men. Then I asked him, “Did you not like Danny wrestling because of how it looked?” He said, “No, because they had to be very strong to throw each other around.” Dad flexed his biceps for me, then added, “I just wish he had played baseball or football” (sports Papi loves). Back when I was a teenager hitting the discotheques, my father had told me that he was glad I was going with friends but specifically with Tom, my gay dance partner. Papi said he trusted Tom would not let anything happen to me, and besides he was very nice. So, the perceived homophobia I noted in the essay was one I projected onto my parents, specifically my father who, ironically, was a nontraditional Cubano who cooked, cleaned, and cared for my brother and me before heading to his night job. 

The family photos and Super 8 footage document the performances of an immigrant, working-class family attempting a higher status. In sharing these, they sought to prove for themselves and, as noted in the video essay, for their/our families back on the island that they were not only surviving but thriving. In using these home movies and photos for “Dancing Danny,” I am telling a story about family, grief, and memory and very much about love.


[1] The comadre relationship/bond can be extremely important in Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx diasporic communities. The practice of women serving as godmothers (co-mothers), especially to each other’s children regardless of religious affiliation, creates extended families and sisterhood bonds.

[2] According to Schwartz, at bachelor’s institutions, 5.2% of tenured faculty members are black and 6.6% are Hispanic or Latino. At the doctoral level, those shares shrink to 4% and 4.6%, respectively. White faculty members make up 78.9% of those with tenure at bachelor’s institutions and 74.2% at doctoral institutions. However, the report notes, an overall decrease in the share of white faculty members hasn’t been “accounted for by increases in other races and ethnicities.”  Natalie Schwartz, “Study: Racial diversity continues to lag among college faculty,” published July 9, 2019. 

[3] My “Risks, Resistance, and Rewards: One Teacher’s Story” in Composition and Resistance, edited by C. Mark Hurlbert and Michael Blitz and also “Racism and the Marvelous Real” in Teaching Social Issues in the English Classroom, edited by Sam Totten and C. Mark Hurlbert. These chapters earned me respect from scholars I respected helping to provide a sense of belonging to this community. 

[4] The publication of “A Journey Toward Voice; or, Constructing a Latina’s Poetics” in Writing in the Borderlands: Women Writers of Color and Literary Theory, edited by Sandra Kumamoto Stanley, was a moment I could have claimed to be a literary scholar but was still too intimidated.

[5] Ashley Torres, graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Literary, Cultural, and Textual Studies Master’s program. Alexandra Hidalgo’s recording of my performance at Washington State University using Ashley’s film is viewable at https://vimeo.com/142093807

[6] The University of Central Florida’s Center for the Digital Humanities, The Burnett Honors College, and the Department of English all contributed funds toward this project.

[7] Ryan Mayers set the tone and aesthetic for the film and completed the first half while Nik Lyons saw to it that there was no gap in the transition and completed the project. Colleague Kevin Meehan did the final edits, adding new music, and managing the newly rerecorded narration.

[8] Beyond the Archives: Research as a Lived Process, edited by Gesa E. Kirsch and Liz Rohan. Malea Powell’s essay “Dreaming Charles Eastman: Cultural Memory, Autobiography, and Geography I Indigenous Rhetorical Histories” was also an influence.

[9] This remains the term that older Cubans use when they’re trying not to be offensive to “los gay” in Spanish. The conventionally derogatory term of maricón has been reclaimed in the way the word queer was—see the work of Roy Pérez and Ricardo Ortiz, Cuban American scholars.

Works Cited

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. The Water Dancer. One World, 2019, pp. 277-280.

Hidalgo, Alexandra, editor. Pixelating the Self: Digital Feminist Memoirs. Enculturation Intermezzo, 2018.

Hidalgo, Alexandra, Catheryn Jennings, and Ana Milena Ribero. “Constellating Stories and Counterstories: Cultural Rhetorics Scholarship Principles.” constellations: a cultural rhetorics publishing space, vol. 4, May 2021 https://constell8cr.com/conversations/cultural-rhetorics-scholarship/

Kirsch, Gesa E and Liz Rohan, Eds. Beyond the Archives: Research as a Lived Process. Southern Illinois University Press, 2008.

Marmon Silko, Leslie. Storyteller. Arcade Press, 1981 (various pages, untitled pieces: pp.1-7; pp.130-137; p. 227).

Morrison, Toni. “Nobel Lecture.” The Nobel Prize.  7 December 1993. https://www.nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/?id=1502.

Ortiz Cofer, Judith. Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood. Arte Publico Press, 1990 (3 chapters: “Preface: Summer’s Day,” “Silent Dancing” and “The Last Word”).

Perfect: A Conversation with the Venezuelan Middle Class About Female Beauty and Breast Implants. Director Hidalgo, Alexandra. 2009.

Powell, Malea. “American Indian Caucus, Part 1, Writing and Working for Change Video Project.” October 19, 2011. Viewed July 6, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdW2smlM1Kw.

Powell, Malea. “Dreaming Charles Eastman: Cultural Memory, Autobiography, and Geography I Indigenous Rhetorical Histories.” In Beyond the Archives: Research as a Lived Process pp. 115-127.

Powell, Malea, Daisy Levy, Andrea Riley-Mukavetz, Marilee Brooks-gillies, Maria Novotny, and Jennifer Fisch-Firguson. “Our story begins here: Constellating cultural rhetorics.” Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture, vol. 25, 2014.

Rodríguez Milanés, Cecilia. “A Journey toward Voice; or, Constructing One Latina’s Poetics.” Other Sisterhoods: Literary Theory and U.S. Women of Color edited by Sandra Kumamoto Stanley, University of Illinois Press, 1998, pp. 325-338.

Schwartz, Natalie. “Study: Racial diversity continues to lag among college faculty.” Higher Ed Dive, July 9, 2019. https://www.highereddive.com/news/racial-diversity-continues-to-lag-among-college-faculty-study-finds/558394/.

Vanishing Borders. Director Hidalgo, Alexandra. 2014.

Villanueva, Victor. “Colonial Memory, Colonial Research: A Preamble to a Case Study.” Beyond the Archives: Research as a Lived Process. Eds.Gesa E. Kirsch and Liz Rohan. Southern Illinois University Press, 2008, pp. 83-92.

Works Consulted

Behar, Ruth. Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story. Beacon Press, 2003.

Elena. Costa, Petra. Director. 2012 (On Netflix).

Fetterley, Judith. The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction. Indiana University Press, 1978.

Freedman, Diane P., Olivia Frey, and Frances Murphy Zauhar. “Introduction. The Intimate Critique: Autobiographical Literary Criticism. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1993. Print.

Freedman, Diane P. An Alchemy of Genres: Cross Genre Writing by American Feminist Poet-Critics. University Press of Virginia, 1992.

Freedman, Diane P. Ed.  Autobiographical Writing Across the Disciplines: a Reader

Duke University Press, 2003.

Hidalgo, Alexandra. Cámara Retórica: A Feminist Filmmaking Methodology for Rhetoric and Composition. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2017.

Hidalgo, Alexandra. “Creating Our Pasts Together: A Cultural Rhetorics Approach to Memoirs.” Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, vol. 2, no. 1, 2018.

Hidalgo, Alexandra. “Vanishing fronteras: A call for documentary filmmaking in cultural rhetorics (con la ayuda de Anzaldúa).” Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture, 2016. 

Mairs, Nancy. Remembering the Bone House: An Erotics of Place and Space. Harper & Row, 1989.

Steedman, Carolyn Kay. Landscape for a Good Woman: A Story of Two Lives. Rutgers University Press, 1987.

Williams, Patricia J. An Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor. Harvard University Press, 1992.


Gracias a mami, Isabel Gaston Rodríguez, y papi, Mario Rodríguez Coto for my life, for my brother Daniel (Danny) Rodríguez, and for all of their stories.

About the Author

Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés was born in New Jersey to Cuban parents. Educated in Miami and New York, her work appears in numerous journals and anthologies. She is author of Everyday Chica, winner of the 2010 Longleaf Press Poetry Prize followed by Everyday Chica, Music and More, a poetry CD set to Caribbean folk music. Her two short story collections—Oye What I’m Gonna Tell You and Marielitos, Balseros and Other Exile—were #4 and #5 on the Guardian’s list of 10 of the best books to help understand Cuba. She teaches literature and writing at UCF.

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