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Title:Gendered readings and interpretation in selected short stories by Isabel Allende, Cristina Peri Rossi, and Luisa Valenzuela
Author(s):Henager, Paul Eric
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Borgeson, Paul W.
Department / Program:Spanish, Italian & Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Modern
Literature, Latin American
Women's Studies
Abstract:Although readers of twentieth-century fiction encounter texts in which a male-identified reading is subverted, critical work tends to focus its attention only rarely upon the implications of such a subversion for the male characters in such texts. Many short stories by Isabel Allende, Cristina Peri Rossi, and Luisa Valenzuela can be interpreted as exercises in reading for a traditional male-identified reader. These tales often represent women in a period of transition from fulfilling old gender-typed roles to discovering new possibilities, and men who face the difficulties of adjusting their gender-assumptions. Representation of male characters, therefore, is a crucial element in the stories' capacity for undermining the reader's masculinist assumptions, and there are several strategies for employing the male character toward that end. A common strategy is to develop a male character's reductionist misreading of a woman and to demonstrate the shortcomings of such a reading. Other texts invite the reader to assume a male plot as central and then demonstrate how a woman's story, initially at the margins, is as rich or richer. Yet other tales unmask the fear and panic that lie below the surface of men's attempts to maintain authority. Common to stories of all these categories are moments of contact between the paradigms that male characters activate in their reading of female characters and the paradigms that the hypothetical male-identified reader activates in his or her rendering of the narrative text. Furthermore, as the male characters face the necessity of adjusting their notions of femininity, masculinity becomes a problematic issue as well, both for the male characters and for the reader.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Henager, Paul Eric
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712305
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712305

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