Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Spanish

First Advisor's Name

Maida Watson

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Renée Silverman

Third Advisor's Name

Aurora Morcillo

Fourth Advisor's Name

María Asunción Gómez

Date of Defense

5-18-2009

Abstract

Female sexuality has commonly been viewed as the passive counterpart of male sexuality. Building upon Adrienne Rich's theory of compulsive heterosexuality, I would suggest that the fundamental location of this problem lies within the subconscious. Cristina Escofet's stance on this issue is to argue in favor of a deconstruction of Jungian archetypes, revealing their constructed rather than intrinsic character. In this dissertation, I study representative texts by Escofet and Isabel Allende and show not only how they depict patriarchal compulsive heterosexuality, but also try to reconceptualize female sexuality through surrealist and postmodern techniques such as self-reflection, dialogue with our double or Other, and sensorial perception. These techniques are designed to create a new epistemology of jouissance and excess, as defined by contemporary French theory.

The significance of my study resides in the interdisciplinary analysis of female sexuality in Hispanic feminist writers. The first chapter proposes that surrealism, postmodernism, and feminism are theoretical frameworks which create new paradigms for social change. In their feminist philosophies, Escofet and Allende emphasize the use of subconscious knowledge as a means of helping them understand the world and create alternative realities. The second chapter shows how Escofet and Allende deconstruct the mysoginist archetype of Eve, which has been largely responsible for identifying women's sexual identity with the disreputable qualities of the femme fatale and whose mirror-image has long plagued women. In accordance with this stereotype, Lillith (Adam's sexually active ex-partner), has typically been portrayed as the negative Other, and for generations the she-devil myth which surrounds her has resurfaced in the media, where she assumes the role of innumerable evil female characters. In the third chapter, I examine how class and race differences have been used to intensify the demonization of different types of sexuality. In the same manner as Lillith and Eve, black and indigenous characters express dissent by retelling their stories in words and performance, and by seeking to form a dialog with their readers. The last chapter deals with the importance of the senses for female characters as they try to create their own sexuality from the fragmented bodies we find in surrealist and postmodern art. In this section we shall see how Luce Irigaray and Hélène Cixous's theories about multiple sexualities are in evidence when Escofet and Allende reconceptualize female sexuality. As no previous scholarship has analyzed the use of the subconscious, the senses, and performance when understanding female sexuality in Latin American literature, this dissertation seeks to provide a tentative exploration of the issues that may help to open up a new field of research in Hispanic feminist cultural studies.

Identifier

FI14060848

Comments

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