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Power, language, and culture: Teresa de la Parra in Latin American feminism

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Title: Power, language, and culture: Teresa de la Parra in Latin American feminism
Author(s): Wang, Lih-Lirng Soang
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Garfield, Evelyn Picon
Department / Program: Spanish, Italian and Portuguese
Discipline: Spanish
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Literature, Latin American Women's Studies
Abstract: Teresa de la Parra (1895-1936), a pioneer in modern Latin American feminism, utilizes several narrative strategies which enable her to communicate a feminist ideology: novelistic events, subversive language, and the revision of historical women's stories. In Ifigenia and Las memorias de Mama Blanca, the mother figure symbolizes maternal authority and submission to paternal power, whereas the daughters, who are rebellious and liberal-minded, struggle against the traditional role of women in Venezuela. According to Parra, that role and the family structure in Caracas early in the twentieth century are based on a Catholic patriarchy, wherein man is seen as a supreme God figure and woman as the believer. Parra also criticizes the family-arranged marriage which is based on this pattern of paternal authority and female submission. The complex discourse of her novelistic protagonist, Maria Eugenia Alonso, can be seen as Bakhtinian "double-voiced" discourse struggling on the borderline between the dominant and the muted in society. The heroine undergoes a tripartite process of linguistic performance: resistance, parody, and silencing. Maria Eugenia's resistance discourse subverts the authority of her family, whereas her parodic discourse targets the biblical literature of Solomon's Song of Songs. Silencing is represented in two ways: by the heroine's mystical language by means of a union with God/Mother Nature, as intermediary instead of the Church; and also by a domestic discourse which represents the heroine's suffering, sacrifice, and conformity to social systems. Parra expresses her feminist ideology not only in her novels but also in her essays where she revises the stories of several famous women in Latin American history by emphasizing their strength, intelligence, and perseverance. Her concept of womanhood breaks with the feminine domestic stereotype, as reflected in the Venezuelan journal El Cojo Ilustrado (1892-1915). Like Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, and Rosario Castellanos, Teresa de la Parra emphasizes women's free will and independence, thus focusing on how women may move beyond the domestic sphere to (re)create history in the public domain.
Issue Date: 1995
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/19776
Rights Information: Copyright 1995 Wang, Lih-Lirng Soang
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9543762
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9543762
 

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