Gender and the Rhetoric of Modernity in Spanish America, 1850-1910

Lee Skinner.

University Press of Florida, 2016.

This ambitious volume 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 in the modern, utopian nation. Lee Skinner 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.

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. She 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. This book offers a complete picture of how writers thought about gender roles, modernization, and national identity during Spanish America’s uneven transition toward modernity.