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Women’s claims to their bodies, social space and knowledge in Early Modern Spain: Redefining gender relations in the seventeenth century novelas of María de Zayas y Sotomayor and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

O'Kell, Hayley Jane (2019) Women’s claims to their bodies, social space and knowledge in Early Modern Spain: Redefining gender relations in the seventeenth century novelas of María de Zayas y Sotomayor and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. MA by research thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Marginalisation has many intersecting forms and historically, early modern Spanish women have suffered doubly. In their own time, they were silenced by the operations of patriarchy, subjected to control and surveillance in Renaissance manuals and centuries later, they are afforded liminal space in discussions of literature and culture in a European context. Considering that seventeenth-century Spanish women were marginalised in patriarchal society, they nevertheless found their bodies were placed at the centre of numerous discussions on women’s conduct, initiating a process of alienation between women and their bodies that persists in contemporary contexts. In order to understand the machinations of androcentric society, we can examine the fictional subtexts of women that can be found in the popular literature of the period. The short stories of seventeenth-century writers, María de Zayas and Miguel de Cervantes, contest the treatment of women and their bodies as occupied, patriarchal territory and they demonstrate how women could begin to claim back the right to their bodies, social space and knowledge. Zayas’s and Cervantes’s defiant female characters can be located within a broader tradition of women seeking radical strategies to free themselves from situations of powerlessness and assume greater autonomy over their bodies and destinies. Illuminated by the Marxist materialist theory of Maria Mies, this thesis will explore both the subtle and the more apparent, female resistance strategies that interlace Zayas’s and Cervantes’s novelas. Dismantling the largely invisible, patriarchal concepts that were built into the mental constructs of early modern Europe, the texts strive to highlight the coercive male-female relationship for their contemporary readers. The imaginary realm of their novelas, discussed within this thesis, created a space for their fictional female survivors to voice the injustices committed to them and their bodies, in a context where such spaces were not historically available to seventeenth-century Spanish women.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Keywords: María de Zayas, Miguel de Cervantes, Golden Age Literature, Early Modern Women, Marginalisation, Feminism, Maria Mies
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds) > Spanish & Portuguese (Leeds)
Depositing User: Miss Hayley Jane O'Kell
Date Deposited: 15 May 2020 08:00
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2020 09:44
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/26842

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