Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Ana Rueda

Abstract

My study seeks to explore the interest that Spanish women authors such as Josefina Aldecoa, Carme Riera, Nuria Amat, Esther Tusquets, Marina Mayoral, Carmen Martín Gaite, and Olga Guirao have taken in the revival of epistolary fiction in recent decades. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century epistolary fiction in Spain was conditioned by social practices and by literary conventions that typically confined its heroines to an amorous plot and women authors to anonymity. I contend that if modern tradition of epistolary practices and other male-discriminatory practices kept women writers silenced or invisible in the Spanish literary world, contemporary women writers sketch themselves back into their texts. Fictional letters function as written self-portraits for them to reflect and tell their own stories, thereby creating a playful mirror effect between the fictional epistolographer and the historical author. By pushing the conventional boundaries of letter writing as a sentimental genre, contemporary women authors take liberty to rewrite female representation and to give the fictional protagonists a new voice and visibility. They revisit the theme of love in epistolary literature to explore refashioned—and often transgressive—discourses on gender, sexuality, and subject identity.

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