Women and Spanish Kiosk Literature (1907-1939): Modernization and Mass Culture
Among the thousands of novelas cortas published in Spain between 1907 and 1939, more than 300 were written by women. The present panel seeks to explore the ways in which women used early-20th-century Spanish kiosk literature as a medium through which they represented and engaged with the most pressing social, political, and cultural questions surrounding women’s roles in an increasingly modernized society.
The boom in mass print culture in early-twentieth-century Spain was a product of the urban modernization and of the growing demand for cheap, accessible literature for the increasingly literate masses. Moreover, among the thousands of novelas cortas published between 1907 and 1939, a small yet significant portion—over three hundred—was written by women. Yet despite the increased attention granted to Spanish kiosk literature in recent years, most notably Jeffrey Zamostny’s and Susan Larson’s invaluable Kiosk Literature of Silver Age Spain, our understanding of women’s roles in the production and development of kiosk literature remains a relatively understudied field. This panel seeks to remedy this relative dearth in the scholarship.
Mass-produced kiosk literature, intended to be consumed and immediately discarded rather than preserved for posterity, offered established and burgeoning writers a medium through which to grapple with the instabilities and anxieties of modern life. The present panel seeks to explore the ways in which women used kiosk literature to represent and engage with the most pressing social, political, and cultural questions surrounding women’s roles in an increasingly modernized society. Among many others, themes and topics such as the relationship between gender discourse and broader anxieties around modernization, women’s relationship to popular culture vis-à-vis (masculine) modernism, feminism, the New Woman, female-authored erotica, and kiosk literature as a visual medium are all welcome subjects of the panel. In short, this panel will provide a much more comprehensive overview than we have had of the types of questions grappled with in female-authored kiosk literature.
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