Latin Numbers is a work of performance history, examining the way in which Latino actors on the twentieth-century stage and screen communicated and influenced American ideas about race and ethnicity. Brian Eugenio Herrera looks at how these performances and performers contributed to American popular understanding of Latinos as a distinct racial and ethnic group. His book tracks the conspicuously “Latin” musical number; the casting of Latino actors; the history of West Side Story; how Latina/o performers confront stereotypes; and the proliferation of the gay Latino character in the AIDS era. With a flair for storytelling and a unique ability to see the deeper meanings embedded in popular culture, Herrera creates a history that will appeal to popular culture enthusiasts, theater aficionados, and those interested in the cultural history of Latinos. The book will also delight readers interested in the memorable (and many of the lesser-known) Latino performances on stage and screen.
“. . .Posits the centrality of theater and diverse forms of entertainment (film, television, toys) to politics at a local and global level. Latin Numbers is a great book that will garner huge interest among diverse audiences, particularly students and scholars of American studies, Latina/o studies, and scholars of theater, performance, popular culture, and film and television studies”
—Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, University of Michigan
“In this extremely well-polished and captivating historical account, Brian Herrera documents the deep tradition of playing Latino and performing Latinidad—in contrast to the popular presentation of Latino presence as new, novel, or emergent…. As a Latino Studies project, this is an extremely urgent and needed intervention.”
—Isabel Molina-Guzmán, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
“Latin Numbers is the breakout book of the year, and its impact will be significant. Brian Herrera, one of the most interesting contemporary voices in American studies and in theatre and performance studies, writes with intelligence and wit… His book transforms our knowledge of Latino popular culture as it introduces new ways of understanding the history of Latinos in the United States.”
—David Román, University of Southern California, author of Performance in America: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the Performing Arts
Cover design by Michael Quanci. Illustration by Chad Sell.