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Akiko Tsuchiya (Washington University in St. Louis). "Gender, Spaces of Sociability, and Antislavery Discourse in the Writings of Nineteenth-century Spanish Women of Letters"

Event Type
Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese
Lucy Ellis Lounge (FLB 1080)
Apr 15, 2013   3:00 pm  

The subject of this presentation is the role that Spanish women of letters played in the nineteenth-century antislavery movement (in the period between 1840 and 1886) through the creation of "spaces of sociability" for women, as reflected in both their writings and in their political activism. While traditional assumptions about separate spheres for women and men figured into abolitionist political strategies of both sexes, the involvement of women of letters in the anti-slavery cause allowed them to shape new models of female subjectivity, to define themselves as political subjects and, ultimately, to negotiate a new public sphere for themselves. While the impact of liberalism and romanticism in the first half of the century paved the way for women's entry into a civil society from which they were excluded, as the century progressed, women's negotiations in the public sphere became fraught with complexities and contradictions. Not only did differences among women give rise to different strategies of negotiation, but the new public sphere was also in constant transformation, as a political and discursive battleground. This presentation will focus on the Spanish writer, editor, and public figure, Faustina Saez de Melgar, whose support of the abolitionist cause belied her apparent conservatism in other areas of personal and public life, to exemplify the complex strategies of negotiation in which she and her female contemporaries were engaged in the cultural field as they participated in the transatlantic discourse against slavery.

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