Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Languages, Literatures and Cultures


College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

María C. Mabrey


This dissertation reexamines the rise of feminism in 19th-century Spain. In this historical context, the female writers who received recognition were mostly from the upper-middle classes: Fernán Caballero, Rosalía de Castro, Concepción Arenal and Emilia Pardo Bazán, to name a few. However, at the end of the 19th century there was also a group of female authors from lower-middle classes who were promoting freethinking, secular education and equal rights for women in the press. Unfortunately, their contributions have been largely forgotten and ignored by critics. The main purpose of this study is to give well-deserved recognition to three female authors, whose works greatly contributed to the rise of feminism in Spain: Cándida Sanz, Rita Arañó and Isabel Peña.

I argue that these authors used Spiritism and their writings strategically to propose a new model of hybrid woman: a housewife dedicated to her family but also committed to educating herself by means of reason, free will, and freethinking. These writers encouraged their female readers to continue to be domestic, but not domesticated. This seemingly harmless “performance” was possible because these new hybrid women found strategic methods to advocate for their rights without deviating from their society’s mold. They also took advantage of other liberal and anticlerical movements coming from Europe, such as Masonry, Republicanism, and Socialism, to educate other women and to introduce themselves into the political world of men.

This archive research takes into account women’s history in 19th-century Spain and acknowledges the works of these brave feminist authors who were committed to Spiritism and La Luz del Porvenir (The Light of the Future), a weekly periodical written by women and published for almost twenty years. Ultimately, this investigation invites critics to continue studying the literary and journalistic production of these and other forgotten important Spanish writers. In the future, my intention is to continue investigating female authors from La Luz del Porvenir and other periodicals.