Crafting the Female Subject

Crafting the Female Subject: Narrative Innovation in the Short Fiction of Emilia Pardo Bazán

Susan M. McKenna
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 199
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  • Book Info
    Crafting the Female Subject
    Book Description:

    Susan McKenna presents the innovative narratives of Emilia Pardo Bazán, Spain's preeminent nineteenth-century female writer, in Crafting the Female Subject.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1888-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-11)

    “What does it mean for a woman, reading as a woman, to read literature written by a woman, writing as a woman?”¹ This now-classic question posed by Patrocinio Schweickart embodies a number of problematic issues still at the forefront of current debates by feminist literary critics and theorists. In her latest meditation on the teaching of literature and the state of the humanities, Susan Gubar examines the challenges to and changes in feminist intellectual history over the past several decades, reflecting on the state of present-day feminist politics. “Startling transformations” in society, she affirms, indeed released women from the constraints...

  5. 1 Short-Story Theory and the Cuento in Spain
    (pp. 12-37)

    A considerable amount of literature has been published lately on the theory of the short story in general and the Hispanic short story in particular.¹ Despite this recent proliferation of critical theory, one is hard-pressed to find a consensus among these scholars as to what exactly constitutes either one. Brevity, intensity, tension, tone, unity of form, unity of effect or impression, and the time it takes to read are some of the most common characteristics mentioned in the cursory definitions. The story and the cuento, however, seem to defy the standardized schematic delimitations of genre definitions. Having said this, I...

  6. 2 Recalcitrant Endings and the Disruption of Form
    (pp. 38-68)

    The story, as seen through the eyes of Eudora Welty, transcends the limitations of previous word application with each new writing/reading. Words acquire new meanings and language assumes new functions each time they are used. All utterances are heteroglot; context gives rise to text. Welty’s subtle account of the writing (reading) process accurately portrays the plurality of meanings inherent in the short stories of Emilia Pardo Bazán. Works of illusion and beauty, her stories infuse new life into well-worn words: “They all shine, they are never smudged.” It is within these short stories, so much a part of the late-nineteenth...

  7. 3 Alternative Endings and the Disruption of Closure
    (pp. 69-98)

    The simultaneous preservation and disruption by the story’s closing words of the images and patterns of representation maintained throughout the text is another narrative strategy frequently employed in Pardo Bazán’s short stories. Similar to final recalcitrance in its involvement of the reader in the storytelling process, this second method of disruptive reappropriation fosters a dialogue between traditional and nonconventional modes of discourse that both subverts the conclusion’s original intent and allows for the construction of an alternative ending. Dialogically determined, this creation of alternative endings is at once narrative strategy and an invitation to reader response. Inherently contradictory, the new...

  8. 4 Defiant Endings and the Disruption of Content
    (pp. 99-123)

    Learning to read and write as a woman presupposes a disruption of conventional content and form. As I have argued throughout this book, the disruption and manipulation of the accepted mode of traditional discourse to exert the presence of a female subject constitutes the narrative framework of Pardo Bazán’s radical revisioning of the short story. Employing strategies of resistance that defy the status quo, Pardo Bazán’s stories embody what Nancy Miller has termed a “dissent from the dominant tradition” in their numerous recurrent “narrative gestures,” especially in the “modalities of closure.”¹ This chapter examines the dissent of these closing “narrative...

  9. 5 Narrative Beginnings and the Production of Difference
    (pp. 124-160)

    Narrative beginnings and endings, as Peter Rabinowitz has so eloquently argued, hold “privileged positions” within a literary text, for they are places of special emphasis for both authors and readers. Readers instinctively concentrate their attention, he maintains, on the material conveyed in the text’s beginnings, endings, titles, epigraphs, and descriptive subtitles—their sense of textual meaning determined, in part, by the “concentrating quality of a detail” articulated in these privileged sites. Providing “a core around which to organize interpretation,” these advantaged positions, moreover, inform the reader how best to focus his or her attention.¹ While the subject of endings has...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 161-168)

    Because of its inherently self-conscious style, the short story has proven invaluable as a means for examining the distinct modes of disruptive reappropriation in Pardo Bazán’s texts. Using a variety of theoretical tools, each chapter in this work engaged in a unique reading practice that examined the complex and varied strategies of resistance employed by Pardo Bazán to circumvent conventional narrative design, and by so doing, to afford her female heroes differing degrees of narrative subjectivity. In concentrating our efforts on the ways in which she manipulates language, at both the level of story and of discourse, we are better...

  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 169-177)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 178-180)
  13. Index
    (pp. 181-186)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 187-187)