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Title:Female bodies under surveillance: gender fictions and the discourse of hygiene (Spain, 1850s-1930s)
Author(s):Rubio-Campos, Maria D.
Director of Research:Tolliver, Joyce L.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Tolliver, Joyce L.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Delgado, Luisa-Elena; Wilcox, John C.; Littlefield, Melissa M.
Department / Program:Spanish, Italian & Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Hybrid discourses
Abstract:From the mid nineteenth century onwards, the publication of prescriptive literature for and about women increased in Spain and reached its peak by the turn of the century, when manuals, essays, treatises and textbooks for girls experienced an unprecedented boom. This project studies the diachronic trajectory of the discourse of hygiene in manuals for women, as well as the alternating echoes of and antagonism toward this discourse which are found in prose fiction of the same period. I argue that the particular Spanish ambivalence about modernity vs. tradition is embodied in the self-contradictory discursive hybridity characteristic of the Spanish hygiene manual. This same ambivalence is mirrored in the literary production of the period: novelists endorsed or contested hygiene’s standards, establishing a collaboration or antagonism with literary style at the root of this debate. Attitudes toward foreign influence played an important role in this ambivalence for scientific authority was associated with the foreign, while conservative Spanish ideals were incarnated in ideals of domestic womanhood. This is true regardless of the ideological positioning of the texts: for instance, while hygienist doctor Pedro Felipe Monlau promulgates the myth of the authoritative foreign-influenced physician in contrast with the passive Spanish “angel of the home,” novelist Alejandro Sawa’s raw attack on the biases of the Spanish medical establishment ironically echoes the privileging of gendered foreign authority found in Monlau’s text of several decades earlier. In this way, both genres, the hygiene manual and the novel, expressed in gendered terms the preoccupations about modernization and economic change in Spain, shifting gender roles and cultural colonization.
Issue Date:2010-05-20
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Maria Del Carmen Rubio-Campos
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-05-20
Date Deposited:2010-05

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