Latin-American Women Writers: Class, Race, and Gender

By Myriam Yvonne Jehenson | Go to book overview

Epilogue

Experience, Teresa de Lauretis reminds us, "is the process by which, for all social beings, subjectivity is constructed. Through that process one places oneself or is placed in social reality and so perceives and comprehends as subjective (referring to, originating in oneself) those relations--material, economic, and interpersonal-which are in fact social, and, in a larger perspective, historical." 1 I have tried to lend a gendered optic precisely to this process of subject-constitution and object-formation in the works of the women in this book. I have restricted myself to a limited sampling of their work because its sheer proliferation would have made my analysis unwieldy. Nevertheless, this representative sampling of generic reinterpretations discloses and destabilizes the gendered ideologies at work in the experience of the female characters these women portray. The genres of the romance and the sentimental novel are revalorized, as may be seen in Teresa de la Parra's Ifigenia, María Luisa Bombal The Final Mist, and Marta Brunet's "The Child Who Wanted to Become a Picture." Popular songs that construct women as "good" when they are kept at home and "tarnished" or prone to seduction when they leave their homes are parodied, as Angeles Mastretta Mexican Bolero illustrates. 2 These writers humorously invert, as Rosario Ferré does so effectively in "When Women Love Men," the common proverb in which the stock ménage-à-trois situation has women fighting one another for the love of a man. Through irony, these authors dismantle gendered and class positionalities, debunking their essentialism and disclosing them as merely "contextual, contested, and contingent" ( Scott, 36). In order to open a space for their own discourses and subject positions they violate earlier texts and restructure space, time, and linear narrativity. 3 Precision, language, and structural cohesiveness are undermined in works like Julieta Campos's Sabina, Helen Parente Cunha Woman Between Mirrors, and Luisa Valenzuela The Efficient Cat, and silences and ruptures become significant in Griselda Gambaro God Does Not Want Us to be Happy; in Campos Celina Or the Cats, where Celina is deprived of a voice of her own; and in Maria Luisa Bombal's The Shrouded Woman, where the protagonist can speak only when it is too late--after she has died. The authors of all these

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Latin-American Women Writers: Class, Race, and Gender
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • About the Author ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Chapter 1 - Latin American Women/ Women in Latin America 1
  • Chapter 2 - To Build Bridges 13
  • Chapter 3 - Man's Love... 'tis Woman's Whole Existence 23
  • Chapter 4 - Arms and Letters: the Power of the Word 41
  • Chapter 5 - To Build New Worlds 85
  • Chapter 6 - Indigenista and Testimonio Literature: "Let Me Speak" 119
  • Epilogue 149
  • Notes 155
  • Selected Bibliography 177
  • Index 193
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