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SN2109: Myths of the Feminine in the Spanish Novel

Teaching Term: 2

Convenor: Abigail Lee Six

Assessment: student presentation (10%); essay (30%); examination (60%).

This Hispanic Studies course is also available to students of Comparative Literature and Culture.


This course introduces students to some significant writers and places the set texts in literary context. It also aims to develop awareness of relevant theoretical concepts, in particular, theories of motherhood and the maternal, purity, virginity, and the femme fatale. It explores relationships between myth and other forms of traditional narrative, such as Bible stories and folktales. There will be a formal lecturing element, but most of the teaching and learning will be discussion-based and interactive. Questions explored include, for example:

  • What is a mother?
  • What expectations are imposed on mothers and how do they affect those who mother and are mothered?
  • How does the cultural conceptualization of masculinity impact upon notions of how girls and women are and should be?
  • How has the Spanish take on these sorts of idea developed over the past century?
  • Do male and female writers present issues around femininity in significantly different ways?

Key Bibliography (in the order in which they are studied)

Miguel de Unamuno, ‘Dos madres’, in Tres novelas ejemplares y un prólogo [Two Mothers in Three Exemplary Novels]

Miguel de Unamuno, La tía Tula [Aunt Tula]

Camilo José Cela, La familia de Pascual Duarte [The Family of Pascual Duarte]

Marina Mayoral, ‘Nueve meses y un día’ [‘Nine Months and a Day’]*

Adelaida García Morales, El Sur, seguido de Bene [The South and Bene]

Lourdes Ortiz, ‘Penélope’ [Penelope]*

Carmen Laforet, Nada [same title in English]

*The stories by Marina Mayoral and Lourdes Ortiz are both to be found in parallel text in Rainy Days / Días de lluvia: Short stories by Contemporary Spanish Women Writers, ed. by Montserrat Lunati, trans. by Marilyn Myerscough (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1997).


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