Women Writers, New Disciplines, and the Canon

By Rebolledo, Tey Diana | Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, January 2002 | Go to article overview

Women Writers, New Disciplines, and the Canon


Rebolledo, Tey Diana, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers


I started late. I was forty-two when I received my Ph.D. in 1979. I had had many lives before I went back to graduate school to study Latin American Literature. Actually going back to graduate school was one of the better things I have done in my life. Not only did I come in contact with exciting ideas and intellectual challenges, the world had changed since I had been in college. Or perhaps I hadn't started so late. Even in college I was struggling against disciplines and against established canons. When I was a senior at Connecticut College for Women in 1959, majoring in Spanish, I decided to write an honors thesis, one of the options the Department allowed. The Head of the Department was a Spaniard, a peninsular specialist whose name shall remain anonymous. He was fond of spending class time talking about how he would drink wine in the cafes of Madrid with such notable writers as Federico Garcia Lorca, Ramon Valle Inclan, and other Spanish writers. You know the type. Of the other two professors in the depa rtment, one was an instructor who taught basic languages because she had never finished her Ph.D. and the other was a Latin Americanist. In his classes, we studied the prominent and often boring writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century (this was before the great boom in Latin American Literature), and so I read novels by male writers who are virtually unread today. The only women we read were the so-called great "poetesses" (heaven forbid they would be called poets): one poem, "Hombres Necios" by the great seventeenth-century Mexican nun, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, where she chastises men for their infidelities and double standards, and one poem by the early twentieth-century Argentine poet, Alfonsina Storni, where she criticizes men for their infidelities and double standards. Oh, and a great novel Dona Barbara, written by Romulo Gallegos, where the central character is seen as the devourer of men and dies in the end. I never understood why she was so angry at men because the crucial scene, wher e she is raped, had been edited out of the student edition we read. I guess young women at a genteel girl's school should not have known about those things.

Well, because it was an option, I decided to write a thesis ... not about women writers (at the time this would not even have occurred to me) but about two Latin American male poets I considered interesting. Jose Santos Chocano, a mestizo poet from Peru, who sang about the Indians, their culture, and civilization as the founding discourse of the Peruvian nation, and Nicolas Guillen a mulatto poet from Cuba, who wrote about the struggles of Blacks. I did research, wrote my thesis, and was denied honors. Perhaps my thesis was not very good. But the official reason given to me was that Latin American Literature was not on the same level as Peninsular Literature and thus not deserving of study.

Time went on. I was back in graduate school, and one of my first classes at the University of Arizona in 1973 (after the Civil Rights Movement, the Chicano Movement, and the Feminist Movement) was a course, the first of its kind, on Latin American Women Writers. What a revelation! These women were strong and powerful; they wrote poems about things other than men and their infidelities, and they spoke to me. I wrote my dissertation on one of the women, Rosario Castellanos, a fabulous Mexican poet who, as we say in Spanish, "no tenia pelos en la lengua / she had no hairs on her tongue," meaning that she was forthright and said whatever she needed to say. Beyond this revelation in this class, one of my classmates was the Chicana poet Margarita Cota-Cardenas. It was Margarita who invited me to a student poetry reading where she was reading her poems. I had never conceived of such a thing as Chicano literature, but in 1973 this new discipline was fermenting, passionate, revolutionary. And of course, my interest wa s piqued and has never waned. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Women Writers, New Disciplines, and the Canon
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.