Power and Women's Writing in Chile: 1973-1988

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Institution Granting Degree

The Ohio State University

Cedarville University School or Department

English, Literature, and Modern Languages

First Advisor

Jaime Giordano

Second Advisor

Josaphat Kubayanda

Third Advisor

Steven Summerhill


Chilean women authors, power, resistance, writing


This study focuses on the works of four contemporary Chilean women authors (Isabel Allende, Diamela Eltit, Elizabeth Subercaseaux and Ana Vasquez) published between 1977 and 1988. Through the analysis of their ten novels, this study evaluates the existence and development of an alternate theory of power and resistance within the parameters of post-1973 Chile.

Recent ideas by Michel Foucault help uncover those unseen networks of power and resistance that oppose traditional theories and practices of power. These ideas form a starting point for the development of a woman-centered theory of power that emphasizes self-knowledge, caring and relationships, and which results in enablement and empowerment, rather than domination and coercion.

The model of feminist reader response criticism provides a suitable approach through which to analyze these works because it highlights a feminist perspective that privileges women's experience and ways of knowing, in a process of "dialogue" between author and reader.

Given the impact of the particular socio-political realities of Chilean society in the last twenty years (i.e., the influence of cultural and institutional patriarchy), and the significant changes in the roles of women during that period, it is not surprising that these authors have turned to non-traditional characters, themes and settings. As they are engaged inthe process of establishing their own literary style, neither is it surprising that they have developed strong narrators and language through which to articulate the new cultural realities they have had to face. In many ways, Subercaseaux, Eltit and Vasquez are still struggling to come to terms with the repressive realities of their existence; only Allende has been able to actually formulate a vision of what alternate authentic images of women might be like. However, all four affirm the necessity of writing as memory and testimony as means through which to come to terms with events in their nation.