Whence the Other Speaks: A Transnational Approach to Home and Discourse in the Fictional Narratives of Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton and Teresa de la Parra

Doctoral Dissertation


Californian Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton (1832-1895), considered the first U.S. Latina writer, and Venezuelan author Teresa de la Parra (1889-1936) shattered cultural boundaries as public critics who exposed social oppression and exclusion from citizenship while situating their works in the domestic, private sphere of patriarchal hierarchy and gendered subjectivities. Along with gender, class, and race, “home” operates as an ideological marker of the subject, where exclusionary practices and repetitions construct self-identity as much as they establish difference, otherness. Stemming from these concepts, my thesis draws on the Foucauldian rendition of discourse as a medium through which relations of power produce speaking subjects and the realities of which they speak. Building on this model, I propose we approach home as a discursive site (and product of discourse) that is no longer simply the domain of the domestic sphere. Rather, this new idea of home is an in-between space where silence becomes voice, located in an unstable, uncomfortable place of enunciation. It is the perspective of the other made manifest. Home, then, becomes the site where the other becomes self in the narratives of these women writers. My dissertation explores how Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton’s and Teresa de la Parra’s novels manipulate dominant discourses through different linguistic and narrative strategies that privilege the other, ultimately rendering the discursive object into a subject, a speaking agent who reclaims the power of voice. Their fiction thus complicates established sites of power and dichotomies delineated by gendered and racialized borders (public/private, whiteon-white) while creating a space of their own, a conceptual home from where the historically home-bound object, as it were, speaks, thus transforming itself into a privileged subject. The conventional notions of home, then, are questioned and expanded, and home transcends bounded definitions of belonging and permanence to suggest, instead, the possibility of reshaping subjectivities, allowing us to rethink designations of class, ethnicity, gender, nationality, and how these affect and influence the way in which we see ourselves with relation to the world. Oftentimes, the abstractions that outline and that are at the same time contained in this conception of home are rendered visible in the novels precisely by way of discursive strategies.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07202009-012336

Author Catalina Perez Abreu
Advisor Maria Rosa Olivera-Williams
Contributor Maria Rosa Olivera-Williams, Committee Chair
Contributor Kristine Ibsen, Committee Member
Contributor Barbara Green, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Literature
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2009-07-08

Submission Date 2009-07-20
  • United States of America

  • Who Would Have Thought It?

  • Venezuela

  • The Squatter and the Don

  • Ifigenia

  • californio

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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