Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Del ‘Hernán Cortés del género femenino’: Imperial and Other Conquests in Cartas Marruecas

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2015), 92, (2), 137–152.

Abstract

In this essay the metaphorical linkage of femininity with national decay in Cartas marruecas is examined as a reaction to women's unprecedented involvement in contemporary Spanish public life and as a precursor to their consignment in the next century to the private arena as a result of the ideology of separate spheres. The study shows that Cadalso shared the ambivalence of his peers among Spain's reformist elite towards women's public role in Enlightenment Spain. The narrative of Cartas marruecas conveys this sense, on the one hand, by shutting women out of its construction of contemporary Spanish society and, thus, effacing their agency in national life, and, on the other, by representing women and the broader conceptual category of femininity through metaphors that equate women with an uncivilized Other and imply that their public activities imperil national progress.

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Ewald, Liana