Novel women : gender and nation in nineteenth-century novels by two Spanish American women writers
MetadataShow full item record
In my study, I analyze La hija del bandido o los subterráneos del Nevado (The Bandit's Daughter or the Subterranean Caves of the Nevado Mountain) by Refugio Barragán de Toscano (Mexico 1887) and Blanca Sol by Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera (Peru 1889). Written by women, these two novels address nationality and social identity in terms of gender, class, and ethnicity in Spanish America. They develop a female protagonist as a self-realizing subject rather than an object to be defined by men. My dissertation explores the historical, political, and socio-economic contexts of these narratives. In discussing Barragán's narrative I explore how Judith Butler's idea of "gender performance" can be used to understand Barragán's legitimizing strategies in the text. When I discuss Cabello's novel, I analyze how the author's choice of genre and consciousness of literary trends was a strategy to legitimize her perspectives in national debates and vii projects. Through textual analysis I argue that these women were not only conscious of the importance of their role as women writers, but also of their part in defining the nation-state. It is in their primary roles as caretakers, which the domestic angel ideology re-affirmed, that both authors sought to improve the lives of women. For Barragán this involved providing a safe haven for unmarriageable women in the convents; for Cabello, this meant assuring that women were educated to find gainful employment if they were to become widowed or somehow lose male support. Thus, each author embraced aspects of realism to portray the lack of alternatives for women in society. I found that though both Cabello's and Barragán's literary production provided a counter discourse to the national imaginings of their letrado counterparts, their issues were complexly intertwined with essentialist notions of women's role in society.