This fall, the University of Texas at San Antonio will offer a class exploring slain Tejano singer Selena through the lens of Mexican American identity.
Sonya M. Alemán, associate professor of Mexican American studies, will teach "Selena: A Mexican American Identity and Experience." The course will be offered through UTSA's Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (REGSS).
Alemán told the Rivard Report
she'll use students' admiration for Selena as a gateway to "engage issues around identity." Mexican Americans often feel inadequate in their dual identities because they are expected to be "more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans," the professor added. That memorable line is from the 1997 biopic Selena is often quoted by fans of the singer to express their complex relationship with Mexican American identity.
Alemán says her interest in Selena began through adoration and love for Tejano music. She even attended five or six of Selena's concerts. The professor's transition from viewing Selena through the lens of adoration to thinking of her in a scholarly manner began almost a decade ago.
"[W]hat my academic journey led me to was to look at issues of race, class and gender identity and the role that the media plays in helping shape how those identities are formed or how we picture those in our heads," she told the Rivard Report.
"We live in a media-saturated world," she continued, "so we feel connected in an odd way to these names and faces ... We feel like we know them ... We have to realize the importance of trying to make sense of how these relationships work."
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.