Creation and marginalisation in women’s writing in mid-twentieth-century Uruguay : the case of Concepción Silva Bélinzon’s poetry
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This thesis explores how women’s writing in mid-twentieth century Uruguay enables a reconsideration of the intertwined hegemonic practices of literary canon formation and national identity in this seminal period. Within a national history and a cultural tradition conceived of as patriarchal, progressive and homogeneous, in correspondence to a European/Eurocentric concept of time and historicism, women writers struggled to find a recognised position from which to speak. Nevertheless, like other marginal groups, women writers have challenged the hegemonic discourses of modernity in Uruguay, as elsewhere in Latin America, producing what can be described, following Elaine Showalter, as a double-voiced textual strategy that replicates as well as subverts the dominant order. In this respect, Concepción Silva Bélinzon (Montevideo, 1900-1987) offers a remarkable case study to show how women’s poetry destabilises and renegotiates the great discourses of modernity. Socially and culturally marginalised, Silva Bélinzon’s life demonstrates the failures and limitations of a patriarchal/paternalistic society, while her poetry problematises the homogeneous national discourses of modern Uruguay, exposing the discontinuity inherent to a national history conceived of as masculine, linear and teleological. Silva Bélinzon’s poetry has been defined as a synthesis of Modernismo and Surrealism, and described as a combination of free associations, biblical references and metaphysical concerns, all expressed within conventional metric forms, notably, the sonnet. Her poetry has been considered incoherent and bizarre, and has thus received little critical attention. However, one of the most interesting characteristics of her poetry has been overlooked. That is, the juxtaposition of different artistic trends and the dialectical tension that exists between the use of random, discontinuous and disconnected images within strict traditional poetic forms. The theoretical approach of this thesis is predominantly framed by postcolonial, feminist and gender theories, including those of Homi K. Bhabha and Judith Butler. In addition, drawing on Henri Bergson’s work, Matière et mémoire (1896) and Marcel Proust’s well-known idea of mémoire involontaire, I interpret Silva Bélinzon’s elliptical poetry as a virtual journey through layers of the personal and national pasts that thereby deterritorialises the national, hegemonic discourses of the modern nation. Thus, using Silva Bélinzon’s poetry as a case study, the thesis aims to demonstrate how women writers ‘overlap in the act of writing the nation’ (Bhabha 2003: 292).
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2022-03-09
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 9th March 2022, pending formal approval
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