Demystifying the Female Body in Hispanic Male Authors 1880-1920: Overcoming the Virgin / Prostitute Dichotomy

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This study examines the representation, semiotics and power relations inherent in the depiction of the female body in key Modernist short stories by canonical authors from Latin America and Spain at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. The female body is a crucial element in the emergence of modern woman’s subjectivity as evidenced in the tales of Rubén Darío, Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera, Manuel Díaz Rodríguez, Azorín, Miguel de Unamuno and Ramón del Valle-Inclán.


“ . . .through its focus on the short story, the study brings this little-studied genre to the fore and illustrates its importance within the wider corpus of Modernist texts. . . . Combining close readings with a deep understanding of the sociosymbolic changes taking place in Modernism, Cohen’s work enhances our knowledge of the writers under discussion and of the interplay of their literary explorations with questions of gender, subjectivity, and power that continue to concern us today.” – Dr. Mary Lee Bretz. Professor Emerita, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey

“It is especially commendable that Dr. Cohen chose to emphasize female agency, resistance and subversion, because too many of the studies devoted to similar material have tended to reduce women’s roles to passivity and victimhood. By balancing the male tendencies to oppress, control and dominate the female body and subjectivity with the ways in which female characters resist, subvert and deconstruct male power, Dr. Cohen cogently shows that gender related male anxieties circa 1900 were an indication of the burgeoning autonomy of women.” – Dr. Angel Loureiro, Professor of Contemporary Spanish Literature and Culture & Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures, Princeton University

". . . reminds us of the limitations of male regard for women at the time, and how difficult it was for even the most sensitive male to reconcile the two traditional conditions of womankind with the new reality." Book News

Table of Contents

Foreword by Mary Lee Bretz, Ph.D.
1 The Sensual Artifact
2 The Artful Frame
3 The Erased Presence
4 The Demystified Female Body

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