Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Ana Rueda


Spanish women writers that establish their literary careers early in twentieth century find themselves at an interesting historical crossroads as the world changes from an agrarian to an industrial paradigm. On one hand, this change leads to a strong current of traditionalism, to which most male writers adhere, as it offers the attractive idea of return to a pre-modern simplicity; on the other, this change opens up possibilities for social improvement and participation for those groups traditionally excluded from power. Embracing this change poses the opportunity for female subjects to reshape fundamental structures of society and, in sum, eventually create a different world where women can become full citizens.

Blanca de los Ríos, Concha Espina, Carmen de Burgos, María Lejárraga, and Caterina Albert are representative of Spanish women writers facing this situation. Their fictional works written between 1898 and 1914 offer a rich literary production that invites us to examine the emergence of new cultural and social practices. These authors renegotiate deeply rooted ideologies that structure not only gender relations but also the social class system, the spatial organization around country/city, and Spain’s national identity built around the discourse on race. Addressing conflicting perspectives between tradition and modernity through the prism of gender, the analysis of their works reveals their taking on a modern stand, hopeful of the promises brought by the new socioeconomic reality and the liberating aspect of modernity.

As Rita Felski and Barbara Mashall´s studies have pointed out, many theorists of modernity, such as Marshall Berman and Jürgen Habermas, do not take gender into consideration. Grounded in a gendered analysis, this study reveals the importance of Spanish female authors as agents of modernity at the turn of the twentieth century.