Events in Modern Languages & Cultures
Hispanic Studies Seminar: Dr Ben Dodds [Department of History, Durham University] 'The bandit's three mothers: women and the nation in Spain in the 1930s and 1940s'
By the 1930s, the bandit had long been a contested national hero in Spain. On the one hand, he (and it usually, though not always, was a he) represented the traditional Spanish virtues of chivalry and piety. On the other hand, he was a national embarrassment due to the ongoing difficulties in dealing with crime in the countryside. Popular literature is full of explorations of the bandit character, portraying him sometimes as a downtrodden working-class hero, sometimes as a true nobleman disinherited by corrupt society, and sometimes as a bloodthirsty ruffian. Juan León is heir to this rich tradition, and contains many familiar plots and literary devices. Unlike its predecessors, however, Juan León deals at great length and sometimes in a surprising way with issues of womanhood, motherhood and the nation. It is argued here that Juan León helps us understand the way in which models and ideals of womanhood were received and sometimes undermined or disputed in Spanish society in the 1930s and 1940s. Bestselling swashbuckling adventure it may have been, but Ricote’s immense novel also offers insights into wider understandings of feminine identity and nationhood.
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