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Un -domesticated mothers: Private and public female subjectivities in the journalism of Alfonsina Storni and Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Mariela E Mendez de Coudriet, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation scrutinizes the writings of two major literary figures of early-twentieth-century Argentina and the United States with the aim of revealing how representations of motherhood function in their journalism as the site for a reformulation of the configuration of female subjectivities astride the private/public divide. Alfonsina Storni's and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's discursive acts of questioning socially and culturally validated mothering practices interrogate the classic divide, thus threatening to unsettle the very foundations of patriarchal ideology, which at least partly explains the neglect displayed towards this production. Alfonsina Storni's fame as Argentina's most famous "poetess of love" drastically overshadowed during her life and afterwards her journalistic contributions, which have as a result been largely overlooked by most scholarship on her work. In a similar vein, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's renown as a leading feminist thinker and reformer have traditionally led critics and scholars to focus almost exclusively on her utopian fiction, to the detriment of her journalistic endeavors. This study sets up a dialogue between the journalism of both women writers through the recuperation and examination of Storni's contributions to the "feminine" column of the journal La Nota and of Gilman's pieces for The Forerunner—the monthly she published entirely by herself. It is via a transgressive use of their journalism that both writers manage to critique the "domestication" of female subjectivity endemic to most existing accounts of motherhood, which cancel and negate the empowering possibilities of mothering practices for new forms of female agency. A close analysis of the discursive and rhetorical strategies employed by Alfonsina Storni and Charlotte Perkins Gilman thus helps unearth a neglected literary corpus and contributes at the same time to enriching new and innovative feminist analyses of mothering.

Subject Area

Comparative literature|Latin American literature|Journalism|Womens studies|American literature

Recommended Citation

Mendez de Coudriet, Mariela E, "Un -domesticated mothers: Private and public female subjectivities in the journalism of Alfonsina Storni and Charlotte Perkins Gilman" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3336991.