Fracasos cortesanos: Exceso masculino y rearticulación de la hegemonía cultural en María de Zayas
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The great majority of the critical field has focused on Zayas' proto-feminist perspective to writing and her defense of women. While this emphasis has greatly contributed to a better understanding of Zayas' work it has left aside opportunities for exhaustive analysis of her discourse about male behavior. The goal of this dissertation is to fill this void and thus contribute to the literary field with a better understanding of Zayas’ representation of masculine excess. The main argument in this dissertation is that Zayas creates a didactic literature where she sanctions male abuse as a direct violation of the generally accepted social norms previously stipulated by several Manuales de Conducta, code-of-conduct manuals written mainly by Italian and Spanish noblemen to define the behaviors of the perfect courtier. This, however, is far from Zayas' only objective: not content with her defense of women, through her depiction of masculine excess the author suggests the necessity of social reform ever more fiercely. Such a re-articulation of the Spanish cultural hegemony would aim to endow females with greater social authority so that aided by their generally superior Christian morality – according to Zayas – they could reeducate and rectify courtly masculine excess for the betterment of the nation. To achieve this analytic objective, this dissertation utilizes a theoretical framework derived from an extensive list of well-known and respected sources: among others I incorporate critical works by Edward Behrend-Martinez, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Nancy Chodorow, Anne Cruz, Norbert Elias, Michel de Foucault, David Gilmore, Margaret Greer, John Huxtable Elliott, Michael S. Kimmel, John Lynch, Marina Scordilis Brownlee, Lisa Vollendorf, Raymond Williams and numerous others.