Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Spanish

First Advisor's Name

Asunción Gómez

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Aurora Morcillo

Third Advisor's Name

Maida Watson

Fourth Advisor's Name

Renee Silverman

Keywords

Motherhood, Catalan Fiction

Date of Defense

5-17-2011

Abstract

This dissertation analyzes four twenty-first-century Catalan novels which present the complex positions occupied by mothers in the last seven decades. Its conceptual framework posits motherhood as both a changing social construction and a political institution in a constant state of flux. In Inma Monsó´s Todo un carácter (2001), Eva Piquer´s Una victoria diferente (2002), Carme Riera´s La mitad del alma (2004), and Najat El Hachmi´s El último patriarca (2008) motherhood is explored as a metaphorical act, a gender-constructing experience, as well as the locus of expression with regard to gender and power relations. During the dictatorship of Francisco Franco (1939-1975), the majority of women were excluded from public spaces, and forced to stay home to care for their husbands and children. Furthermore, the state criminalized abortion, made contraception and divorce illegal, and promoted an ideal of femininity based on silence, sacrifice, and self-denial. The political changes of the late 1970s allowed women greater personal autonomy, and many women writers began to challenge stereotypical views of women’s social roles. Yet in the 70s and 80s, the narratives of Esther Tusquets, Ana María Moix, and Montserrat Roig represent the mother as a repressive figure whom the daughter must reject in order to liberate herself and regain her voice. It is not until the 90s when the novelists Mercedes Abad, Maruja Torres, Carme Riera, Imma Monsó, Eva Piquer, and María Barbal rehumanize the mother figure, recovering their matrilineal heritage. However, far from suggesting a unified trend in representations of motherhood in Catalan fiction, the diverse points of view of the novels under discussion here reveal that differences in attitudes among women authors about mother-daughter conflict are far from resolved. The theoretical background for this dissertation draws mainly on the work of Adrienne Rich, Nancy Chodorow, and Julia Kristeva. It includes psychoanalytic studies as well as sociologically based essays by Anna López Puig, Amparo Acereda, Jacqueline Cruz, Barbara Zecchi, Ángeles de la Concha, and Raquel Osborne, among others.

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