Ad/Dressing Modernism: Emilia Pardo Bazán's Later Short Stories (1901-1921)
Ad/Dressing Modernism: Emilia Pardo Bazán's Later Short Stories (1901-1921)Martha E. Davis, Ph.D. Director: Chad C. Wright, Ph.D. Although her realist and naturalist novels have been widely researched, scholars have only recently begun to study the more than 500 short stories Emilia Pardo Bazán authored. The majority of her short story oeuvre coincides not only with the pinnacle of her feminist writings, but also with the modernist period (1880-1920). Concerned with literary as well as sartorial fashion, Pardo Bazán demonstrates a heightened awareness of her writing style, as well as her characters' style of dress and their corresponding roles as conformists or New Woman trendsetters. In this dissertation I aim to uncover how the question of "style" or "fashion" manifests itself in characters' apparel and the literary themes of Pardo Bazán's "modernist" writing. To illustrate how Modernism allowed Pardo Bazán to experiment with form and content, I draw on the short story theories of Poe, Joyce and other critics. Virginia Woolf's and Edith Wharton's reflections provide a contemporary feminist perspective on writing during what Rita Felski deems a "feminized" modern age. I refer to what Robert Johnson describes as the "social modernism" of Spanish women writers that highlights themes related to women's changing societal roles. Additionally, I use Roland Barthes' fashion theory to interpret the significance of sartorial elements in the author's short fiction. The cultural theories of J.C. Flügel, Anne Hollander and others help delineate the importance society places on clothing, fashion and the accumulation of material goods, which are central elements in Pardo Bazán's oeuvre.My research demonstrates that highlighting fashion in a modernist style allows Pardo Bazán to raise her readers' awareness of women's issues in a modernizing society, especially as they relate to education, marriage and employment. Drawing on the relative benign subjects of sewing, fashion and other interests of early twentieth-century women, the author is able to explore more "weighty" questions related to gender inequality while also demonstrating the value of women's skills and interests. By "dressing" her language in satire or parody, Pardo Bazán effectively criticizes sexism without appearing overtly feminist and thereby offending her largely conservative, bourgeois readers, thus broadening the reach of her provocative short stories.
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