1st Edition

Queer Women in Modern Spanish Literature Activism, Sexuality, and the Otherness of the 'Chicas Raras'

Edited By Ana I. Simón-Alegre, Lou Charnon-Deutsch Copyright 2022
    186 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    186 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This original collection of essays explores the work and life choices of Spanish women who, through their writings and social activism, addressed social justice, religious dogmatism, the educational system, gender inequality, and tensions in female subjectivity. It brings together writers who are not commonly associated with each other, but whose voices overlap, allowing us to foreground their unconventionality, their relationships to each other, and their relation to modernity.

    The objective of this volume is to explore how the idea of "queerness" played an important role in the personal lives and social activism of these writers, as well as in the unconventional and nonconformist characters they created in their work. Together, the essays demonstrate that the concept of "queer women" is useful for investigating the evolution of women’s writing and sexual identity during the period of Spain’s fitful transition to modernity in the nineteenth century. The concept of queerness in its many meanings points to the idea of non-normativity and gender dissidence that encompasses how women intellectuals experienced friendship, religion, sex, sexuality, and gender. The works examined include autobiography, poetry, memoir, salon chronicles, short and long fiction, pedagogical essays, newspaper articles, theater, and letters.

    In addition to exploring the significant presence of queer women in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spanish literature and culture, the essays examine the reasons why the voices of Spanish women authors have been culturally silenced. One thrust in this collection explores generational transitions of Spanish writers from the romantics and their "hermandad lírica" ("lyrical sisterhood") through to "las Sinsombrero" ("Women Without Hats"), and finally, current Spanish writers linked to the LGBTQ+ community.

    Introduction: From Chicas Raras to Queer Women in Spanish Modern Culture

    Ana I. Simón-Alegre AND Lou Charnon-Deutsch


    1: Nineteenth-Century Women Activists: Concepción Arenal’s Cross-Dressing

    Aurélie Vialette


    2: Women Moved by the Spirit: Spiritism and Early Feminism in Spain

    Lou Charnon-Deutsch


    3: Queer Literary Friendships in Salons: Concepción Gimeno de Flaquer, Carmen de Burgos, and Others

    Ana I. Simón-Alegre


    4: Concha de Albornoz: Exception, Dandy, and Character

    Isabel Murcia Estrada


    5 : The Dissidence Inside Her Closet: Elena Fortún versus Encarnación Aragonés Urquijo

    Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles


    6: Celia, Elena Fortún’s Queer New Girl

    Elena Lindholm


    7: The Unsuspected Truth: Abjection and Queer Narration in Nada

    Nora Lynn Gardner


    8: Trickster Women: Exploring Gender Identity and Sexuality with Txus García and Hannah Gadsby

    Beth Bernstein



    Ana I. Simón-Alegre is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Adelphi University (Garden City, New York).

    Lou Charnon-Deutsch is Professor Emerita of the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature at Stony Brook University (Stony Brook, New York).

    "Queer Women in Modern Spanish Literature is an innovative, engaging, and eye-opening volume about gender dissidence and the significance of community. Particularly accessible and clear, its contributors show the continuum of unconventional women writers who made of their queerness a legacy of experiences that embrace women's desires, while pursuing social justice. These essays will certainly inspire new literary, gender, and LGBTQ studies, and constitutes a well-deserved recognition of extraordinary writers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries often overlooked in canonical approaches to the period."

    Nuria Godón, Florida Atlantic University, USA.


    "This is a fascinating collection of essays about women and queerness in modern Spain. The protagonists of Queer Women in Modern Spanish Literature are nonconformist women writers and activists who defied prevailing gender norms and conventional femininity in multiple, often unexpected ways. Thanks to this original and thought-provoking book, a series of queer women, relevant cultural figures, jump from the margins of history to the center of the analysis, showing us the many meanings of gender dissidence. If they imagined and pursued a different present, we can imagine a different past through them now."

    Nerea Aresti, historian, University of the Basque Country, Spain.


    "This innovative volume features a gallery of ‘queer women’ (‘mujeres raras’) in the world of letters in modern Spain, who challenged established gender norms in their private and public lives. By embracing the notion of ‘queer’ beyond sexual orientation, the contributors establish original and unexpected connections among these women who expressed their gender in unconventional ways, venturing into public spaces, and engaging in relationships and activities that defied societal expectations. Queer Women makes an important contribution to modern Iberian gender and cultural studies by showcasing the lives and writings of ‘queer women’ who dared to imagine identity differently."

    Akiko Tsuchiya, Washington University in St. Louis, USA.


    "This extremely rich volume edited by Lou Charnon-Deutsch and Ana Simón-Alegre explores through numerous literary and social scenarios what it meant to be a 'chica rara' or 'woman' in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spain. From cross-dressing to feminism and from women’s involvement in spiritism to queer narratives under Francoism, this volume provides an incisive engagement with the history of gendered relations and sexuality and the pressing relevance of yesterday’s debates to today’s struggles. The accounts of women’s friendship, agency, and contestation against gender and sexual norms in the Spanish present and past make for essential reading for scholars in the fields of Gender Studies and Cultural History."

    Richard Cleminson, Professor of Hispanic Studies, University of Leeds, UK.


    "Queer Women in Modern Spanish Literature is an original collection of essays that explores the expression of gender dissidence from a variety of angles. The authors examine the chicas raras’ provocative means of vindicating female production of knowledge, interrogating subjectivities and claiming traditional male spaces. The essays take us from cross-dressing and dandyism to the assertion of non-binary identities; from spiritism to queer tertulias; from reform pedagogy to sisterhoods and female associationism … These are but some of the compelling subjects readers will encounter. The study of this group of unconventional women and their unconventional tools is an essential contribution as we continue building the archive of Spanish women’s writings and activism."

    Rosalía Cornejo-Parriego, University of Ottawa, Canada