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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Modernity, maternity and nation: the writings of Clorinda Matto de Turner Fraser, Jennifer Suzanne


This thesis explores the meaning of Clorinda Matto de Turner's writing in the context of late nineteenth-century concepts surrounding femininity, domesticity, citizenship and the emerging modern state in Peru. Utilizing theoretical modes suggested by Benedict Anderson, Hommi Bhabha, Doris Sommer, and others, it is argued that Matto de Turner's fictional works should be read as national allegories outlining the appropriate roles for women within the Peruvian state. Complex contradictions in Matto de Turner's life and work are also considered, and the challenges faced by women writing in the nineteenth century are explored. Chapter one provides an overview of Matto de Turner's life, and focuses attention on her connections to the intellectual and governing elite of Peru. Her views on women, the church, and the state are examined, as are her professional accomplishments and personal life choices. Chapter two provides both the historical and literary background needed to contextualize Matto de Turner and her work within the larger debate concerning women and their ability to write. The tensions set up by conflicting social and gender expectations are touched upon, and related to the production of Matto de Turner's fiction. Chapters three and four engage in a discussion of the novels Aves sin nido, and Herencia, and address the constructions of femininity and citizenship presented in them by Matto de Turner. Emphasis is given to the role of domesticity and the depiction of women as 'angels of the house.' This thesis concludes with a call for Matto de Turner's work to be reconsidered, and recognized for its contributions to the discourse of modernization and to the nation-building project of nineteenth-century Peruvian intellectuals.

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