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The Emerging Female Citizen: Gender and Enlightenment in Spain

Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: 1
Pages: 330
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  • Book Info
    The Emerging Female Citizen
    Book Description:

    Eighteenth-century Spanish women were not idle bystanders during one of Europe's most dynamic eras. As Theresa Ann Smith skillfully demonstrates in this lively and absorbing book, Spanish intellectuals, calling for Spain to modernize its political, social, and economic institutions, brought the question of women's place to the forefront, as did women themselves. In explaining how both discourse and women's actions worked together to define women's roles in the nation,The Emerging Female Citizennot only illustrates the rising visibility of women, but also reveals the complex processes that led to women's relatively swift exit from most public institutions in the early 1800s. As artists, writers, and reformers, Spanish women took up pens, joined academies and economic societies, formedtertulias-similar to French salons-and became active in the burgeoning public discourse of Enlightenment. In analyzing the meaning of women's presence in diverse centers of Enlightenment, Smith offers a new interpretation of the dynamics among political discourse, social action, and gender ideologies.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93222-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Perhaps the most famous image of a woman from eighteenth-century Spain is Francisco de Goya’sMaja desnuda(1797–1800). A portrait of a nude woman stretched out on a green, pillow-covered chaise, arms tucked behind her head and eyes staring intently at the viewer, Goya’s canvas alarmed contemporaries and startles viewers even today (see figure 1). Its perceived licentiousness led the Inquisition to summon the famed artist before their tribunal in 1815, though Goya ultimately escaped prosecution. The question of who posed for such a scandalous portrait has long consumed scholars, as well as descendants of the Duchess of Alba—...

  6. Part I Developing Ideologies of Citizenship

    • 1 The Woman Question
      (pp. 17-39)

      The prophetic opening lines of Fray Benito Jerónimo Feijoo y Montenegro’s Defensa de la mujer (Defense of Women), published in 1726, provoked contemporary readers.¹ Antagonizing and shocking some, persuading and rousing others, Feijoo’s landmark essay sparked a heated debate on the nature of women that continued well into the 1730s. Published in the first volume of Feijoo’s eight-volume compendiumTeatro crítico universal(1726–1740), theDefensequestioned the long-standing view of women as inferior creatures whose nature dictated their lowly station. That the writings of a single monk essentially revolutionized the discussion about women in Spain may seem surprising to...

    • 2 Admitted Equals: Art and Letters
      (pp. 40-73)

      Immediately following publication of Feijoo’sTeatro crítico universal,Spain’s devoted intellectuals delved into a whole slew of social and political debates, producing in the 1740s and 1750s a swift proliferation of Enlightenment culture and institutions. On the pages of new periodicals and in hastily written books, Spain’silustrados(enlightened thinkers) churned out texts in unprecedented numbers.With equal enthusiasm, a growing reading public devoured these new publications. Nigel Glendinning estimates that there were between one and two million readers in Spain by the middle of the eighteenth century, with about fifty thousand of them located in Spain’s capital city of Madrid.¹...

    • 3 On Equal Terms? Membership in the Economic Society
      (pp. 74-108)

      In October 1775, Manuel José Marín posed a question to the newly formed Real Sociedad Económica Matritense de Amigos del País (Madrid’s Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country): should the group permit women to join? As Marín presented his arguments for female membership to his fellow Economic Society associates at the October 21 meeting of the general council, he made a telling reference to women’s now twenty-year stint in the ranks of the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. Citing the case of the Duchess of Huéscar y Arcos, whom the academy named an academic...

  7. Part II Enacting Citizenship

    • 4 Negotiating a Female Public: Writers and Reformers
      (pp. 111-147)

      As one of their first orders of business, the women of thejunta de damaselected Josefa Amar y Borbón to be a member of their new council in recognition of her role in promoting the admission of women to the Economic Society.¹ In her November 1787 “Oración gratulatoria” (Congratulatory Address), a text thanking the royal institution for her membership, Amar y Borbón took the Society to task for creating a separate council for women.² To Amar y Borbón, women’s auxiliary status signified the reluctance of male intellectuals to fully recognize the efforts and motivations of women like herself—to...

    • 5 Public Works: Female Citizens as Mothers and Workers
      (pp. 148-177)

      Carving out a space for their active participation in Spain’s eighteenthcentury reform was of serious concern to many Spanish women. As the Economic Societysociaswho empowered thejunta de damasfor action demonstrate, women claimed universal rights and female privilege simultaneously. By conjoining these two seemingly contradictory positions, women succeeded in creating a space where they could contribute to shaping the nation’s future. Once women had established this space, many of them endeavored to tackle problems whose solutions they believed would help women. After all, the notion that the status of Spain’s female population reflected the status of the...

    • 6 Between Reason and Passion: Citizenship in Translation
      (pp. 178-196)

      In response to the circumscribed version of female citizenship that male intellectuals advocated, an increasing number of eighteenth-century Spanish women articulated a theory of citizenship that distinguished between the sexes. Both female authors and councilwomen emphasized their unique qualities as women in order to establish their place in Spain’s reform movement. Asserting their innate virtues and maternal instinct, women claimed a significant and powerful role for female citizens.Yet this role entailed specific, class-based forms as women became either civic mothers or industrial workers. Ultimately, this strategy ghettoized female participation in politics and the state. Near the turn of the century,...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 197-200)

    The story of emerging female citizens in the eighteenth century does not have as happy an ending as one might have hoped. Given the tremendous energy, intellectual force, and social influence Spanish women had in Enlightenment discourse and activities, it is perhaps surprising, even disappointing, that they were not able to sustain this momentum. In the first half of the nineteenth century, particularly after 1815, women lost many of the gains they had made during the previous one hundred years. Spain’s nineteenth-centurytertuliaswere dominated by male intellectuals, and the Madrid-basedjunta de damasdid not play the prominent role...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 201-256)
  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 257-298)
  11. Index
    (pp. 299-310)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 311-314)