Women, Mysticism, and Hysteria in Fin-de-Siècle Spain
167 pages
English

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167 pages
English

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Description

Women, Mysticism, and Hysteria in Fin-de-Siècle Spain argues that the reinterpretation of female mysticism as hysteria and nymphomania in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Spain was part of a larger project to suppress the growing female emancipation movement by sexualizing the female subject. This archival-historical work highlights the phenomenon in medical, social, and literary texts of the time, illustrating that despite many liberals' hostility toward the Church, secular doctors and intellectuals employed strikingly similar paradigms to those through which the early modern Spanish Church castigated female mysticism as demonic possession.

Author Jennifer Smith also directs modern historians to the writings of Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851-1921) as a thinker whose work points out mysticism's subversive potential in terms of the patriarchal order. Pardo Bazán, unlike her male counterparts, rejected the hysteria diagnosis and promoted mysticism as a path for women's personal development and self-realization.
Introduction                                                                                                      
1.         Women and the Deployment of Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century Spain                                      
2.         Women, Mysticism, and Hysteria in Fin-de-siècle Spain                                         
3.         Eduardo López Bago’s Hysterics, Tribades, and Nymphomaniacal Nuns                     
4.         La Regenta and the Cura Trilogy: Novels in Dialog                                                
5.         Bucking the Trend: Pardo Bazán on Hysteria and Mysticism in Women                                  
Conclusion                                                                                                                 
Notes                                                                                                                          
Bibliography              
Index  

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Date de parution 15 juin 2021
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780826501882
Langue English

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Women, Mysticism, and Hysteria in Fin-de-Siècle Spain
Women, Mysticism, and Hysteria in Fin-de-Siècle Spain
JENNIFER SMITH
Vanderbilt University Press
Nashville
Copyright 2021 Vanderbilt University Press
All rights reserved
First printing 2021
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Smith, Jennifer, 1970 November 13– author.
Title: Women, mysticism, and hysteria in fin-de-siècle Spain / Jennifer Smith
Description: Nashville : Vanderbilt University Press, [2021] | Includes bibliographical references and index
Identifiers: LCCN 2020056887 (print) | LCCN 202005 (ebook) | ISBN 9780826501875 (hardcover) | ISBN 9780826501868 (paperback) | ISBN 9780826501882 (epub) | ISBN 9780826501899 (pdf)
Subjects: Women—Spain—Social conditions—19th century | Women—Spain—Social conditions—20th century | Mysticism—Spain—History | Women mystics—Spain—History | Hysteria—Social aspects—Spain—History | Feminism—Spain—History.
Classification: LCC HQ1692 .S596 2021 (print) | LCC HQ1692 (ebook) | DDC 305.40946—dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020056887
LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020056888
CONTENTS
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Women and the Deployment of Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century Spain
2. Women, Mysticism, and Hysteria in Fin-de-Siècle Spain
3. Eduardo López Bago’s Hysterics, Tribades, and Nymphomaniacal Nuns
4. La Regenta and the Cura Trilogy: Novels in Dialog
5. Bucking the Trend: Emilia Pardo Bazán on Hysteria and Mysticism in Women
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I WOULD LIKE to express my deepest gratitude to Denise DuPont, Véronique Maisier, Nicholas Wolters, and the outside readers for Vanderbilt University Press, for generously offering their time and expertise to read earlier drafts of the book and give insightful feedback. I would like to thank Catherine Jagoe for her help in the early stages of this project when she generously shared many of her materials with me. Thanks to Lourdes Albuixech and Véronique Maisier for their assistance with translations from Spanish and French, and Francisco Vázquez García for sharing an electronic copy of one of his books when the university libraries in the US were shut down due to COVID.
Thanks go to Revista de Estudios Hispánicos and Decimonónica for permissions to reprint previously published material. Financial support for early research for this project came from the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports and United States Universities and from the Timothy J. Rogers Fellowship Foundation. The time needed to complete this project was made possible by sabbatical leave granted by Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
Finally, I would also like to thank my husband, Shawn, and daughter, Francesca, for their love and support.
INTRODUCTION
ON JANUARY 23, 1836, Doña María de los Dolores Quiroga, more commonly known as Sor Patrocinio, was detained and charged with faking divine favors in order to aid in the subversion of the state by Prince Don Carlos and his followers. 1 Medical doctors came to the aid of the prosecution in an attempt to demonstrate that Sor Patrocinio’s stigmata were self-inflicted and had been cured. 2 The court found her guilty and ordered her to leave Madrid and reside in the Convento de Concepcionistas (Conceptionist Convent) in Talavera de la Reina. 3 Despite, or perhaps because of, the court’s judgment against the Spanish nun, her fame increased within the religious sectors of Spanish society, as word of her divine favors spread throughout the country. On September 24 of 1844, not quite a year after Isabel II was crowned queen of Spain at the age of fourteen, a royal decree ended Sor Patrocinio’s exile, and the Spanish nun returned to Madrid. 4 Shortly thereafter, she played a pivotal role in the arrangement of the marriage of Isabel II to Francisco de Asís, and came to occupy a position of privilege in the royal court. However, the controversy surrounding Sor Patrocinio followed her throughout her life: she was subjected to an assassination attempt in 1849, a kidnapping attempt in 1866, and was forced to go into exile on several occasions. In 1877, several years after having escaped to France following the liberal victory in the Revolution of 1868, Sor Patrocinio was allowed to return to Spain, where she would remain until her death at age ninety-two, on January 27, 1904. The understanding of Sor Patrocinio’s mysticism and divine favors as either authentic or feigned represents the divide between, on the one hand, the Catholic segments of society that supported the modern-day saint in the hopes that she would strengthen a Church that was under fierce political attack, and on the other hand, the secular scientists, doctors, and liberals who wanted to weaken the political power of the Church.
Although fraud was the main charge brought against mystics in cases such as Sor Patrocinio’s, what civil authorities really sought was to discredit these women and weaken what they perceived to be a political threat. 5 In Sor Patrocinio’s case, her close relationship with Isabel II led progressive liberals to view her as the mastermind behind Isabel II’s political alliance with the more conservative Partido Liberal Moderado (Moderate Liberal Party). 6 Though few cases of mysticism were brought to the civil courts in nineteenth-century Europe, those that were garnered widespread attention from the public, who tended to view the cases as trials of the supernatural. 7 The prosecution in these cases employed two main strategies: translating mystical phenomena into criminal acts—in Sor Patrocinio’s case this meant charges of fraud (faking her stigmata) and attempted subversion of state (visions of Don Carlos)—and destroying the mystics’ reputation through expert testimony by medical doctors. 8 Sometimes defendants were exonerated but declared hysterical, which meant acquittal still carried the stigma of a medical diagnosis. 9 Indeed, Jan Goldstein, in her study “The Hysteria Diagnosis and Politics of Anticlericalism in Late Nineteenth-Century France,” argues that the large increase in the diagnosing of religious experiences as hysteria in late nineteenth-century France was “consonant with the frenetic crusade for laicization which marked republican politics in this era.” 10 This leads Goldstein to conclude that hysteria was a political construct used by liberals to strengthen their own power and to undermine the Catholic Church. 11 Janet Beizer goes farther to assert that “fastened onto the hysteric’s almost totemic form is the anxiety of an age.” 12
The Republican press, largely through satire and caricature, also played a pivotal role in discrediting such women. According to Andrea Graus, “Anticlerical and Republican caricature used [Sor Patrocinio’s] image to warn of the dangers of the clergy ruling the state. She [ . . . ] became an icon of absolutism and the struggles the liberal regime had to face.” 13 One of the various images of Sor Patrocinio that Graus analyzes is the nun’s depiction in Los Borbones en pelota (The Bourbon dynasty in the nude), a collection of satirical and pornographic watercolor paintings signed SEM. 14 While the Queen herself is the protagonist of the collection, appearing forty-seven times, Sor Patrocinio is also depicted nineteen times, often engaging in “deviant” sexual activities such as lesbian activity, masturbation, and group sex. 15 Figure 1 shows Sor Patrocinio engaging in a sexual act with the queen in her bed, with a severed penis on the floor beside them. Graus argues that this image not only serves to degrade both women but also shows the nun’s influence over the queen: “by lying on top of Isabel, the nun is taking control over Spain.” 16 Lou Charnon-Deutsch notes that the severed organ on the floor next to Sor Patrocinio and the queen also serves “as a warning about the castrating power of powerful women.” 17 Particularly relevant to my study here is that this image serves as a pictorial example of the way female mystics were discredited through their explicit sexualization in medical and literary texts of the time.


FIGURE 1. “¿Quién quiere sebo?” (1868; Who wants some lard?) by SEM from the collection Los Borbones en pelota (1868; The Bourbon dynasty in the nude). http://bdh.bne.es/bnesearch/detalle/bdh0000180846 . Courtesy of the Biblioteca Nacional de España (The National Library of Spain).
Indeed, the specific aim of this book is to show that the reinterpretation of female mysticism as hysteria and nymphomania in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Spain was part of a larger project to suppress the growing female emancipation movement by sexualizing the female subject. I argue that we see this phenomenon in medical, social, and literary texts, and that despite many liberals’ hostility toward the Church, the techniques secular doctors and intellectuals employed to discredit female mystics have striking similarities to the ways the Spanish Inquisition reinterpreted female mysticism as sexual deviance and demonic possession in order to discredit powerful women. I also argue that we can better understand mysticism’s subversive potential in terms of the patriarchal order by examining the writings of Emilia Pardo Bazán. The only woman author studied here, Pardo

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