MESA VISTA HALL — As individuals lined the chairs in common room 1104, Jana Koehler's presentation began about 10 minutes later than expected, so people that were stuck in class could arrive at the presentation.

If a murder were to occur, those at Koehler's presentation focused on Chicana detective fiction would be ready.

Koehler presented to a small group at the University of New Mexico's Mesa Vista Hall on Feb. 21 about Chicana detective fiction in the Southwest.



The Feminist Research Institute organized the presentation introducing Koehler, a UNM-Valencia English part-time instructor, whose presentation explored the writing of Lucha Corpi and her contribution to literature.

Koehler's research mostly focuses on literature from the American Southwest that was produced by women and ethnic writers. These works typically explore issues of race, gender, colonization and representations of the West.

Corpi, credited as the first Chicana to publish a mystery novel, is known for her poetry, and only recently have Chicana/o scholars started to look at her work.

The presentation initially focused on the "weird" form of writing, taking concepts from British writer Mark Fisher and applying them to the works of indigenous writers to show how they are challenging many common ideologies found in traditional works of fiction.

Koehler then got into the genre being examined at the presentation, which is the detective novel and how Corpi challenged the genre.

While noting the stereotypical traits present in normal detective fiction are eliminated, she also said this form of novel became more popular in the 1990s and has gained a cult-like following in the years since rising in popularity.

Koehler also said Chicana detective fiction is different due to "its use of folklore and myth." This is to create more interesting narratives that challenge the reader's preconceived notions of things that they already know about.

Koehler talked about how Corpi's background gave her a different vantage point. She was born in Veracruz, Mexico and immigrated to the United States in the late 1960s, where she tried to blend together the two cultures into her novels.

Koehler also spoke about the history of the Chicano movement during the 1960s and explained how it played a large role in how Corpi wrote her novels.

John Armstrong, a local who heard about the talk through a friend, was pleasantly surprised with how the presentation went, saying, "It did enlighten me on this type of literature and how it has progressed the genre of detective novels."

Spencer Butler is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @SpencerButler48