Gestating a text, delivering a mother: Maternal and textual bodies in Carme Riera and Lucia Etxebarria
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Starting from the exclusion of gestation and motherhood in literary, philosophical, and artistic representation, this dissertation analyzes the metaphor of textual gestation as a mimetic appropriation of female generative power. Beginning with an analysis of the pervasive silence, this dissertation analyzes the relationship between intellectual and bodily gestation. Having theorized the silence imposed upon the maternal body in the Western tradition, I then considered the articulation of maternal voices in Carme Riera and Lucía Etxebarria's narratives, which alike reveal the interplay between gestation and artistic creation that results in the mothering of a text. The overarching questions that my dissertation aims to address are: How can subjectivity be rethought in ways that make it possible to theorize women's voices out of the silence to which they have been relegated by a philosophical tradition that privileges male creativity over the female reproduction? If traditionally the writing process has been considered a male enterprise with the pen functioning as a symbolic phallus, what are the implications of the female text that revolves around the mother? In other words, what are the implications, in literary terms, of "mothering" a text, of creating a text that reflects women's reproductive potential? More generally, is it possible to recuperate maternal voices from the marginalization and exclusion to which they have traditionally been relegated? In order to answer these questions I focus on Carme Riera's "Te entrego, amor, la mar, como una ofrenda" (1975), Una primavera para Doménico Guarini (1980) and Tiempo de espera (19), and Lucía Etxebarría's Un milagro en equilibrio (2004)--texts that display the emergence of maternal voices as the speaking subjects of their narratives. These books reveal the interrelation between bodily and intellectual gestation from a female perspective while showing the development of maternal subjects who chronicle journeys to motherhood through the very act of self-narration. These women reflect on their reproductive experience in a range of private and public writing, from intimate letters and diaries to more impersonal journals, and thus assert female agency in the reproductive process. The gestation of the text happens alongside the emergence of a new maternal subject, one no longer predicated on the name of the father but entirely assumed as a female responsibility. The process of textual genesis, which coincides with the protagonist's bodily gestation, re-appropriates female generative power. Having conjugated intellectual and bodily gestation, these literary mothers give life to a new maternal self.