Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Melody Graulich


Melody Graulich


Alexa Sand


Lawrence Culver


This thesis examines the rich and layered intertextual relationship between five artistic
representations of the razed neighborhoods of Chavez Ravine, Los Angeles, and its former residents. These works include Seattle-based photographer Don Normark’s 1999 photography collection Chávez Ravine, 1949: A Los Angeles Story; the full-length dramatic play Chavez Ravine, written and first performed by Los Angeles-based Chicano comedy troupe Culture Clash in 2003; Jordan Mechner’s 2004 short documentary film Chávez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story; Ry Cooder’s musical album Chávez Ravine: A Record by Ry Cooder; and lastly, high school history teacher Ken Aven’s 2006 debut novel, Chavez Ravine Echoes. Together, these five productions make up a case study that engages with the theoretical debate about privileged groups speaking for, or on behalf of, underrepresented groups. This analysis emphasizes a process of representation that is shared and driven by dialogue between the artists of these productions and the place and people they represent. Through the inclusion of resident involvement in the production process and the weaving of narrative elements from both Mexican American and dominant cultural traditions, these projects promote the Ravine’s cultural wealth and visibility within a popular culture dominated by the symbol of Dodger Stadium. This study, through close readings and textual analysis, demonstrates how these works, considered together, open up spaces for cross-cultural discussions about Chavez Ravine and the various roles it plays within U.S. cultural history. More importantly, these five representations of Chavez Ravine figuratively practice and promote a “speaking to and with” model of intercultural communication between dominant and minority cultures.




This work made publicly available electronically on April 6, 2011.