Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Gender, Race and Patriotism in the Works of Nísia Floresta

Gender, Race and Patriotism in the Works of Nísia Floresta

CHARLOTTE HAMMOND MATTHEWS
Series: Monografías A
Volume: 303
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt3fgnb1
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Gender, Race and Patriotism in the Works of Nísia Floresta
    Book Description:

    Nísia Floresta Brasileira Augusta (1810-85) published prolifically in Brazil and Europe on the position of women and other subjects central to Brazilian national identity after independence. As such she is a hugely significant figure in the development of women's writing and feminist discourse in Brazil, yet this book is the first full length study of her work to be published in English. Through a close analysis of the writer's engagement with the discourses of women's rights, education, slavery, literary Indianism, political ideology and nation-building, this study challenges some of the more monolithic constructions of the writer that still prevail in Brazilian literary historiography. Beginning with a fresh analysis of Floresta's writing on women, this book identifies the influences and motivations that determined her stance and reassesses the writer's position in Brazil's feminist canon. A consideration of her participation in further social and political discourses exposes the hagiographic and reductive nature of her definition as an abolitionist and republican. It also reveals the problematic intersections of gender, race and class in her work. In particular, this study highlights the important part that patriotism plays in shaping the writer's approach to these issues, indicating how the patriotic rhetoric she consistently employs lends additional power and influence to her work, but simultaneously curtails and distorts the positions she adopts and the appeals she makes. Charlotte Hammond Matthews is a Lecturer in Portuguese at the University of Edinburgh.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-822-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Nísia Floresta Brasileira Augusta is unquestionably one of the most significant women writers of the early and mid-nineteenth century in Brazil, if not the most significant. Her output was prolific, including eight publications in Brazil, some running to several editions and subsequently translated into French and Italian, a further five publications in Europe, and a number of collaborations in newspapers in Rio de Janeiro and possibly elsewhere. Yet despite leaving this considerable literary legacy, even before her death in France in 1885 Floresta’s life and work was surrounded by myth and misinformation. Although much has been done to reveal the...

  6. 1 The ‘Translator of Wollstonecraft’
    (pp. 11-28)

    Floresta’s literary career, her engagement with the discourse of women’s emancipation, and her subsequent canonisation as Brazil’s first feminist, begins in Recife in 1832, and it begins with a bang. Her first published text, which appeared under the full title of Direitos das Mulheres e Injustiça dos Homens, por Mistriss Godwin. Tradusido livremente do Francez para Portuguez, e offerecido às Brasileiras e Academicos Brasileiros por Nisia Floresta Brasileira Augusta, is the first known work to be published in Brazil dealing directly with the issues of women’s intellectual equality and their capacity, and right, to be educated and participate in the...

  7. 2 The Educator
    (pp. 29-64)

    Throughout her work, Floresta’s discussion of women’s rights and responsibilities, condition and role in society is invariably founded on the question of education. In fact, it is on the subject of women’s education that Floresta’s participation and place in Brazilian Letters should first be established: her early works are almost exclusively devoted to the education of girls, and whilst later publications address a wide range of social issues, the question of education continues to pervade her work. In fact, Floresta’s entire opus might be said to be didactic in its purpose, although for most of her writing career her ‘pupils’...

  8. 3 The Feminist
    (pp. 65-88)

    Within Brazil, Floresta has long been and continues to be considered the forerunner of women’s emancipation, and her early works to be founding texts of Brazilian feminism.¹ Whilst her position in Brazil’s feminist canon owes much to her supposed adaptation of the ideas of Mary Wollstonecraft, it is also based on her own lifetime of writing on women. Since Direitos can no longer be considered her own work, we must turn to the many discussions of women’s condition, behaviour and role in society to be found in her own subsequent writing in order to assess her feminist positioning and the...

  9. 4 The Indianist
    (pp. 89-120)

    In the first three chapters I have shown how Floresta constructed an image of idealised womanhood, and how that image was fundamentally tied to a concept of national identity and standing. I shall now turn to the writer’s engagement with a more traditional symbol and representative of Brazilian national identity: the indigenous population. The primary focus of this chapter will be A Lágrima de um Caheté, published in Rio in 1849. This poem is arguably Floresta’s most unusual and surprising work, her only concerted use of poetry as a medium, and her only overtly political, anti-establishment publication. The poem laments...

  10. 5 The Abolitionist
    (pp. 121-169)

    Since her death in 1885, Floresta’s biographers have consistently identified her as an abolitionist, claims which are second only to her feminist label. Roberto Seidl suggests that she should be afforded ‘o titulo incontestavel de precursora da propaganda das ideias e doutrinas abolicionistas’.¹ Rather more emphatically, Adauto da Câmara states that Floresta deserves to be ‘inscrita no rol de Nabuco, Patrocínio, Luiz Gama, Rui, Tavares Bastos, José Bonifácio, etc.’² Seidl also observes how it is precisely through her condemnation of slavery that Floresta’s name became known again in Brazil at the end of the nineteenth century when positivists reproduced anti-slavery...

  11. 6 The Patriot
    (pp. 170-200)

    The primary aim of this chapter is to look at how Floresta reconciles one of the core contradictions within her own literary identity: her continual construction of herself as a devoted, patriotic Brazilian despite living in Europe for most of her adult life, and how, in fact, these two parts of her identity, the patriot and the ex-patriate, are inter-connected and mutually dependent. I will therefore be looking at how Floresta depicts both her own nation and the European nations she lives in and visits, how she manipulates these representations according to whether she is addressing a Brazilian audience or...

  12. 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 201-205)

    Through the course of this study I have highlighted and challenged some of the more mythical, idealised and monolithic constructions of Nísia Floresta and her work which still abound in Brazilian studies of the writer, particularly as regards her recuperation by liberal feminist scholars over the last two decades. Floresta’s reputation and her position within the canon is inevitably founded first and foremost on her writings about women and her considerable contribution to the emergence of feminist discourse in Brazil. The starting point for any re-evaluation of that position can therefore only be her first publication, Direitos, and its exposure...

  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 206-214)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 215-219)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 220-220)