Date of Award

5-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Modern Foreign Languages

Major Professor

Óscar Rivera-Rodas

Committee Members

Michael Handelsman, Nuria Cruz-Cámara, Jacqueline Avila

Abstract

This dissertation studies the historical consciousness in the literary production of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (1814, Cuba – 1873, Spain). The numerous novels, plays, and legends, as well as articles written by her, display an array of female characters selected from history, traditions, and the Bible. This focus of women undoubtedly shows the author’s concern with the condition of women in society, which transcends her own time and place in history, nineteenth century Spain, as her stories attempt to establish a connection between herself and her readers, and women of different times in history. In doing so, Gómez de Avellaneda’s characters demonstrate that in the legacy and continuity of the cultural, political and religious institutions and traditions of the past, the present condition of women in society can be explained, questioned, and confronted. Understanding the past becomes, in her stories, a powerful tool in exposing and combating antiquated and even barbaric practices that subjugate women, and that have been perpetuated in society, with devastating results. In today’s world, where women continue to face social inequalities and even violence, despite the gains made in education, health, and even political power, the host of female characters in the works of Gómez de Avellaneda continue to be relevant for the twenty first century readers. This dissertation demonstrates the lasting impact of the author’s literary work and its implications for women in society, even today.

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