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Disorienting the Furniture: The Transgressive Journalism of Alfonsina Storni and Charlotte Perkins Gilman


Drawing on the journalistic prose of two major literary figures of early-twentieth-century Argentina and the U.S., this article breaches cultural, national, and geographical frontiers by comparing the discursive gestures through which Alfonsina Storni and Charlotte Perkins Gilman re-appropriate for themselves the canonical genre of essay-writing to advance their feminist agendas. By undermining the presuppositions underlying so-called feminine publications of their time, both women carry out an intriguing disarticulation of the classic private/public divide that empowers their female readers to conceive of female subjectivity in new and innovative ways. Almost a mythic figure in the world of Latin American letters, Alfonsina Storni has achieved world renown as Argentina’s most famous “poetess of love,” thus obscuring her substantial contributions to Argentinean periodical literature. Even though Charlotte Perkins Gilman has become one of the most influential figures in the history of American First-Wave Feminism, that reputation is largely founded on her feminist fiction and her book Women and Economics, while her journalistic accomplishments have received considerably less attention. The transnational dialogue between these two writers conjured up in this article unearths this more or less neglected corpus to reveal the ways in which both subverted traditional definitions of gender through a transgressive use of discursive spaces heavily coded as “feminine” by patriarchal ideology.

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