“Whether considering public or private spaces, domesticity, work, or education, this book provides sophisticated readings of a broad range of narratives that illustrate the tensions brought about in discussions of gender and its relation to modernity in Spanish America.”–Fernando Unzueta, author of La imaginación histórica y el romance nacional en Hispanoamérica

“A key resource for the study of modernity in Latin American literature and its related fields: women and gender studies, sexuality studies, postcolonial studies, and beyond.”–Nancy LaGreca, author of Rewriting Womanhood: Feminism, Subjectivity, and the Angel of the House in the Latin American Novel, 1887-1903

Nineteenth-century Spanish American writers reimagined gender roles, modernization, and national identity during Spanish America’s uneven transition toward modernity. Gender and the Rhetoric of Modernity in Spanish America, 1850–1910 by Lee Skinner surveys an expansive and diverse range of countries across the nineteenth-century Spanish-colonized Americas, showing how both men and women used the discourses of modernity to envision the place of women at all levels of social and even political life in the modern, utopian nation. Skinner looks at texts by Clorinda Matto de Turner, Jorge Isaacs, Soledad Acosta de Samper, Ignacio Altamirano, Juana Manuela Gorriti, and many others, ranging from novels and essays to newspaper articles and advertisements. She argues that the rhetorical nature of modernity made it possible for readers and writers to project and respond to multiple contradictory perspectives on gender roles, establishing a narrative that competed with other nation-building discourses. With special attention to public and private space, domesticity, education, technology, and work, Skinner identifies gender as a central concern at every level of society.

Lee Skinner is associate professor of Spanish at Claremont McKenna College. She is the author of History Lessons: Refiguring the Nineteenth-Century Historical Novel in Spanish America.

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