‘Oh! The one who covers her face / surely is not worth much’: Identity and social criticism in transatlantic Hispanic culture (1520–1860)

2010 2010

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Abstract (summary)

In 1639, a law prohibiting women any head covering; veil, mantilla, manto for example, is promulgated for the fifth time in the Iberian Peninsula under the penalty of losing the garment, and subsequently incurring more severe punishments. Regardless of these edicts this social practice continued. My dissertation investigates the cultural representation of these covered women (tapadas) in Spain and the New World in a vast array of early modern literary, historical and legal documents (plays, prose, and regal laws, etc.). Overall, critics associate the use of the veil in the Spanish territories with religious tendencies and overlook the social component of women using the veil to simply explain it as a mere fashion practice. In my dissertation, I argue that it is more than just a garment; the veil was used by women to make political statements, thereby challenging the restrictive gender and identity boundaries of their epoch. A critical analysis of early modern historical and legal peninsular texts and close-readings of Golden Age literary works, together with colonial cultural productions, allow me to identify patterns in how the tapadas were represented both artistically and culturally. Accordingly, my project attempts to reassess the significance of the tapadas in Hispanic culture for 350 years and demonstrate how their resilience to stop using the veil publicly is symptomatic of the absolutist monarchy inefficiencies in imposing social control. I move away from the tendency to investigate works including tapadas exclusively, and I conclude by reconstructing more accurately their cultural impact on the social dynamics in Spain as well as the New World.

Indexing (details)

Modern literature;
Latin American literature;
Romance literature;
Womens studies
0298: Modern literature
0312: Latin American literature
0313: Romance literature
0453: Womens studies
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Language, literature and linguistics; Costume; Early modern Spanish literature; Hispanic; Identity; New World; Social criticism; Spain; Tapadas; Veiled women (tapadas)
‘Oh! The one who covers her face / surely is not worth much’: Identity and social criticism in transatlantic Hispanic culture (1520–1860)
Therriault, Isabelle
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 71/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Barbon, Maria Soledad; Velez-Sainz, Julio
Committee member
Harris, Stephen; Romero-Diaz, Nieves
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Hispanic Literatures amp; Linguistics
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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