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La Poeta Eres Tú: Estrategias de Auto-Representación de las Poetas Mexicanas de la Segunda Mitad del Siglo XIX


In this study I show that from the middle of the nineteenth century on, there emerged a number of talented women writers in Mexico who challenged their male colleagues' reductive textual representations of women and their attempts to limit their sphere of action and silence their voices. These women effectively negotiated an ever widening space for themselves and later generations of women, by appropriating the rhetorical strategies of their male counterparts for their own liberationist ends. They transformed the predominant topoi for the construction of female subjects in their representations of themselves within their texts and displayed their mastery of all the topics that had been described by some of the most important Mexican writer statesmen as beyond the reach of their inferior feminine minds. They managed to simultaneously follow and defy the roles that their male counterparts had defined for them through the use of a double discourse. In order to set the stage for these transformations, we contextualize the experiences and education of these women within the broader history of eighteenth and nineteenth century Mexico in the first chapter. We are careful to consider at all times the specific class origins of these women and the particularity of their opportunities as well as of the limiting prescriptions for their behavior. To do so we take from the works of several specialists on Mexican women's history the data that corresponds to women of the middle and upper classes to which the writers belonged, and check it against the biographical information we possess about them. We describe the changes of mentality and circumstances that began in the eighteenth century that made the appearance of these women writers possible in a variety of Mexican periodicals and anthologies from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards. We then examine representative texts about women, written by some of the most influential Mexican writer-statesmen of the period, and in particular one by Francisco Zarco. We use his text to dissemble the liberals attack on women in general and on (dangerous) women writers in particular. We expose the purposes of his astute rhetorical strategies, and place his campaign in the context of the liberals' challengers: the monarchists and the liberal women within their circle who had their own thoughts and literary talents as well as access to the corridors of power. In the third chapter, we explore a wide array of poetic texts by a number of women writers from the second half of the nineteenth century to show how some of them appropriated the ambiguous rhetoric of a Zarco to realize their own liberationist ends.

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