Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Spanish-American modernismo, women writers, early 20th century, female writers, modernismo narrative

Major Advisor

Miguel Gomes

Associate Advisor

Guillermo Irizarry

Associate Advisor

Jacqueline Loss

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This dissertation examines a group of modernista women writers who are closely associated with the tradition of the nineteenth-century Latin American “foundational fiction” novel. I suggest that their works function as national allegories in the sense that they are integral to the debates on modernity at the beginning of the twentieth century. I discuss the continuity of this “foundational fictions” tradition within a different framework, modernismo, an aesthetic that is sometimes erroneously stereotyped as “apolitical” or “escapist.” By highlighting the peculiarities of the dialogue established between discourses of nation and the modernismo practiced by these authors, I show that their works are in fact profoundly, if not overtly, political. In the first chapter I analyze the treatment of race in Roque Moreno (1898) and Indómita (1904) by Teresa González de Fanning, and the second chapter examines religion in Perfiles vagos (1910) by Iris (Inés Echeverría Bello). The third chapter focuses on El manantial (1908) by César Duayen (Emma de la Barra) and the fundamental placement of education as the backbone of nation development. The fourth chapter studies La rosa muerta (1914) by Aurora Cáceres and Ifigenia (1924) by Teresa de la Parra, two novels that substitute the character of the artist -typically at the center of modernista narratives- with sick women which brings the issue of female constraints to the front. I argue that by writing within the modernismo aesthetics, a synonym of modernity and intellectuality, these five women legitimized their voices in order to propose a national project.