Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Maida Watson

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Santiago Juan-Navarro

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Andrea Fanta

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Astrid Arrarás

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


nación, feminismo, matria, identidad, ginocrítica, escritura femenina, abyecto, agencia femenina

Date of Defense



Nineteenth-century women were part of the social commitment of building their nations, which in turn, was also a critical element for a new social feminine consciousness. Women writers played a pivotal role in establishing national identities and communities as oftentimes they were the first ones to address controversial and purposely ignored topics such as slavery, social and political corruption, unequal opportunities, and religious limitations, even before their male contemporaries. Although late twentieth century scholarship initiated an important conversation about the significance of these women writers, their real work as political and social figures still needed a more comprehensive and transnational analysis to promote their concrete influence in the development of national identity in their countries.

My research examines the life and work of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (1814 – 1873), Salomé Ureña de Henríquez (1850 – 1897) and Clorinda Matto de Turner (1852 – 1909) as transformative figures of their national imaginary through their diaries, their poetry, their novels, and their essays to establish what I define as “matria literaria”, a literary motherland of a nation written in feminine.

It is true that the word homeland for centuries has been associated with a strong sense of belonging, both emotionally and physically, usually to our country of origin. However, the homeland is inevitably carried in the soul. For an immigrant like Avellaneda, existing in the border between memory and belonging; for an exiled like Matto de Turner, ongoing on the nostalgia and pain caused by forced estrangement; and for Salomé, even within her country, isolated and politically distanced from her imagined nation. True homeland comes from the process of writing for these women, a rewriting that leads to a ‘literary homeland’, a matria.

By addressing some of the complexities of feminine identity within the national discourse, I establish a dialogue between concepts of nation, homeland (patria / matria), public and private spaces, identity, and representation in their works and how they changed the future of their respective societies. Their writings were also indispensable in the representation of other marginalized communities defined within the discourses of ‘national’ identity, such as slaves, mulatos, and disadvantaged women.





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