La institucionalización del rol materno durante gobiernos Autoritarios : respuestas de escritoras argentinas y brasileñas a la construcción patriarcal de género y nación

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Date

2009-05

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Arce, Emilia Isabel

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Abstract

Women’s fictional narratives, besides influencing the process of nation building, also served to redefine the feminine gender and its incontrovertible contribution to the processes involved in imagining their communities. Although the systematic oppression suffered by women was effective, there were women writers who through negotiation gained access to male-dominated circles and achieved recognition. These women had a fundamental role in defying the stratification of gender in their society. They opposed every limitation imposed upon their gender, particularly the construction of the maternal role from a patriarchal perspective. In the works selected for this analysis, the authors reject the institutionalization of motherhood using as a narrative device motherless heroines who redefine femininity in their own terms and defy the patriarchal construct that confines motherhood to the seclusion of the home. Written in times of political upheaval, these novels emphasize the importance of women’s participation in the public sphere. In this dissertation I analyze four novels situated in or written during authoritarian regimes. The introduction provides the theoretical framework in which the definition of gender is discussed as well as the process of nation building in Latin America. I also include critical views on the topic of motherhood as women writers struggle with the representation of the maternal role and its implications in the construction of gender. In chapter one I discuss Argentinean writer Juana Manuela Gorriti’s La hija del mashorquero (1865); the second chapter analyzes Brazilian novelist Julia Lópes de Almeida’s A familia Medeiros (1892); chapter three is dedicated to the study of Argentinean Elvira Orpheé’s Uno (1961); the fourth chapter analyzes Brazilian Lygia Fagundes Telles’s As meninas (1973), so as to outline periods in which the patriarchal discourse concerning the role of women in society revolved around the traditional concepts of femininity and to reveal the insistence of women to obviate such concepts, specifically in terms of nation building. Through the detailed textual analysis of these novels, I aim to demonstrate the strategies used by these authors to openly defy the constructions of femininity through their critique of the socio-political systems of their times.

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