Presentation Type

Presentation

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Jannine Montauban

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Spanish

Abstract

María de Zayas y Sotomayor (1591 – 1661?) was the best-selling woman author of two extant collections of novellas, translated as Exemplary Tales of Love (1637) and The Disenchantments of Love (1647), that consist of stories of love, marriage, and gendered violence between aristocratic men and women. These 17th-century Spanish books, as popular as Cervantes’, were explicitly and unapologetically pro-woman. Indeed, Zayas has retroactively been placed as an early modern feminist for her condemnation of systematic misogyny and her call for gender equality. Despite her depictions of violence against women and her denunciation of patriarchal institutions that neither include nor protect women, Zayas does not advocate for a radical restructuring of society. In fact, many of Zayas’s novellas perpetuate racism, classism, and sexism. Without condemning hierarchical race, class, and gender structures, Zayas’s feminism can only go so far.

Zayas, writing in the baroque style and notably drawing from works such as Boccaccio’s Decameron, sets up her collections in the tradition of the frame narrative, which complicates any analysis of Zayas’s feminism. Not only do we have Zayas and a narrator, but we have characters, both women and men, narrating tales within. These female and male narrators provide insight into different perceptions of gender and gendered violence. It is not, however, only male-narrated tales that are guilty of misogyny. In both male- and female-narrated stories, hegemonic racism, classism, and sexism bleed through. Though many have noted Zayas’s classism, few have deeply analyzed it—or her racism and sexism. By deconstructing Zayas’s discourse, we can see the gaps in and limitations of Zayas’s feminism.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 27th, 10:20 AM Apr 27th, 10:40 AM

Deconstructing Discourse: Gaps in María de Zayas's Feminsim

UC 332

María de Zayas y Sotomayor (1591 – 1661?) was the best-selling woman author of two extant collections of novellas, translated as Exemplary Tales of Love (1637) and The Disenchantments of Love (1647), that consist of stories of love, marriage, and gendered violence between aristocratic men and women. These 17th-century Spanish books, as popular as Cervantes’, were explicitly and unapologetically pro-woman. Indeed, Zayas has retroactively been placed as an early modern feminist for her condemnation of systematic misogyny and her call for gender equality. Despite her depictions of violence against women and her denunciation of patriarchal institutions that neither include nor protect women, Zayas does not advocate for a radical restructuring of society. In fact, many of Zayas’s novellas perpetuate racism, classism, and sexism. Without condemning hierarchical race, class, and gender structures, Zayas’s feminism can only go so far.

Zayas, writing in the baroque style and notably drawing from works such as Boccaccio’s Decameron, sets up her collections in the tradition of the frame narrative, which complicates any analysis of Zayas’s feminism. Not only do we have Zayas and a narrator, but we have characters, both women and men, narrating tales within. These female and male narrators provide insight into different perceptions of gender and gendered violence. It is not, however, only male-narrated tales that are guilty of misogyny. In both male- and female-narrated stories, hegemonic racism, classism, and sexism bleed through. Though many have noted Zayas’s classism, few have deeply analyzed it—or her racism and sexism. By deconstructing Zayas’s discourse, we can see the gaps in and limitations of Zayas’s feminism.