La construcción cultural de "El ángel del hogar" : representación, género, clase y narración en México (1818-1910)
Brauchli, Leticia Mora de
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This is a cultural study of Nineteenth-Century discourse focusing on the representations of women in print culture which shifts the focus from the scarce or negative representations generally attributed to women in Mexican historiography to the centrality that these representations have in the process of secularization and nation building. Through an analysis that combines gender and cultural studies theory with traditional Mexican historiography, I analyze the paradigm of “The angel in the house” as a semiotic and symbolic nucleus with contested meanings in the cultural imagination. I trace this paradigm from its bourgeois appropriation to justify “the domestic regime” and class hegemony based on a superior morality, to its Catholic usage as a nexus with tradition, and the religious family, to its use as a symbol of the liberal family to regulate desire, emotions, sexuality, and social mobility. The first chapter interweaves the narratives of nation building, modernization, literature, and “the women question” in the construction of a discursive practice where men and women are equal but with different spheres, and where nation and literature are conformed as masculine enterprises. The next chapter focuses on the rhetoric that sustains the “angel” as a social construct of the bourgeois episteme as portrayed in newspapers and two novels: La quijotita y su prima by José J. Fernández de Lizardi, and Hermana de los ángeles by Florencio del Castillo. This rhetoric recuperates women from the symbolic dominion of the church, establishing the “moral” authority of the state, and the secularized family, which was instrumental in the dismantling of the Old Regime. The third chapter examines four novels of Porfirian Mexico: Baile y cochino by José Tomás de Cuéllar, La Rumba by Angel de Campo, Angelina by Rafael Delgado, and Santa by Federico Gamboa. These female dramas are a symbolic arena where writers ventilate problems of race and class through gender. Finally, since one of my contentions is that female representations in literature not only define “decent” literature but women’s lives, as well as the emerging women writer and her work, in the fourth chapter I analyze these layered implications in the work of Laura Mendez.