Major Concepts in Spanish Feminist Theory is the first book in English to offer a substantial overview of Spanish feminist thought. It focuses on six concepts—solitude, personality, social class, work, difference, and equality—and distinguishes Spanish feminist theory from that of other countries. Roberta Johnson employs a chronological format to highlight continuity and polemics in Spanish feminist thinking from the eighteenth century to the present. She brings together arguments from well-known names such as Benito Jerónimo Feijoo, Concepción Arenal, Emilia Pardo Bazán, María Martínez Sierra, Carmen de Burgos, and Carmen Laforet, as well as less familiar figures such as the Countess Campo Alange María Laffitte and Lilí Álvarez, who defied restrictions on feminist activity during the Franco dictatorship to publish feminist books. The topics of difference and equality are explored, and the book recounts the long tension between theorists of each persuasion—a tension that erupted publicly during Spain’s democratic era. Each theorist’s arguments are laid out in straightforward, non-jargonistic prose, making this book a useful classroom tool for courses on Spanish women writers, Spanish culture, and cross-cultural feminist studies.
“This book is a significant overview of the theoretical concepts and authors that make up the history of Spanish feminism from the eighteenth century to the present. The organization of the book around concepts is not only its great strength but is also refreshing—a novel approach to a chronological history of Spanish feminism.” — Alda Blanco, San Diego State University
Roberta Johnson is Professor Emerita of Spanish at the University of Kansas and teaches in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California at Los Angeles. She has written several books, including Spanish Women Writers and Spain’s Civil War (coedited with Maryellen Bieder).
Her examination of the work of Miguel de Unamuno, Pio Baroja, Azorin, Ramon Perez de Ayala, Juan Ramon Jimenez, Gabriel Miro, Pedro Salinas, Rosa Chacel, and Benjamin Jarnes brings to light philosophical frictions and debates and opens new interpersonal and intertextual perspectives on many of the period's most canonical novels.
Johnson reformulates the traditional discussion of generations and "isms" by viewing the period as an intergenerational complex in which writers with similar philosophical and personal interests constituted dynamic groupings that interacted and constantly defined and redefined one another. Current narratological theories, including those of Todorov, Genette, Bakhtin, and Martinez Bonati, assist in teasing out the intertextual maneuvers and philosophical conflicts embedded in the novels of the period, while the sociological and biographical material bridges the philosophical and literary analyses.
The result, solidly grounded in original archival research, is a convincingly complete picture of Spain's intellectual world in the first thirty years of this century. Crossfire should revolutionize thinking about the Generation of '98 and the Generation of '14 by identifying the heterogeneous philosophical sources of each and the writers' reactions to them in fiction.