Title page for ETD etd-05142012-124555

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Berard, Sarah
URN etd-05142012-124555
Title Hijos de la Decadencia: Trangressive Representations of Gender in the Works of Emilia Pardo Bazan
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Foreign Languages & Literatures
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Heneghan, Dorota Committee Chair
Castro, Elena Committee Member
Morris, Andrea Committee Member
  • Emilia Pardo Bazán
  • fin-de siècle
  • Dulce dueño
  • Memorias de un solterón
  • La quimera
  • dandy
  • femme fatale
  • New woman
  • Catholic
  • feminism
Date of Defense 2012-04-17
Availability unrestricted
This thesis explores the transgressive representations of gender in the works of Emilia Pardo Bazán. In her short story “Cuento primitivo” (1893) and her novels Memorias de un solterón (1896), La quimera (1905), and Dulce dueño (1911), the myths and images that surround the figures of New Woman, femme fatales, and dandies expose the fear fin de siècle Spanish society felt toward these models that did not conform to the gender stereotypes expected of them. Their straying from the established norm was seen as the symptom of decadence and the herald of the destruction of the race.

Each of the characters are marginalized in some way because of their gender or because they do not conform to the established gender order. Therefore, much of the theory used in this thesis is drawn from feminist sources including Elaine Showalter, Gilbert and Gubar, Laura Mulvey, and Hélène Cixous. I also incorporate psychoanalytic theory and its relationship to the preoccupation concerning masculinity and degeneration from the work of Freud, Neil Hertz, and Max Nordau. My analysis of the representation of these transgressive figures extends to art as well as many of the cultural myths or images that surrounded these men and women can be found in the paintings of the time, such as those from Santiago Rusiñol, Franz von Stuck, and Hermen Anglada-Camarasa.

As a response to this problem of fin de siècle Spanish decadence, Pardo Bazán offers Spanish society a fairly unusual solution. She proposes a combination of the traditional in the form of the Catholic faith and the modern in the form of equality of the sexes. It is through this unique combination that she is able to integrate these foreign, subversive images of gender into Catholic Spanish society. She particularly celebrates the New Woman who demands to be seen as equal to man. Yet, the New Woman is foreign concept that she does not merely import to Spain; instead, she adapts her to fit within her culture. At the same time, she can promote a modern Spanish society without strict gender hierarchy yet still retain the essential Spanish-ness of Catholicism.

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