Camila Henríquez Ureña’s Feminist Essays and Literary Criticism: The Trajectory of a Transnational Intellectual

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Lucía StecherUniversidad de Chile
Vol. 38, No. 1 (Spring 2019), 59-78

This article analyzes the essay writing of Camila Henríquez Ureña (1894-1973). Despite having actively participated in the intellectual and academic fields of Cuba and the United States, Henríquez Ureña’s work has received insufficient critical attention over the last several decades. In order to better comprehend the development of Cuban feminism during the first half of the twentieth century, Henríquez Ureña should be recognized as one of the movement’s protagonists; her talks, lectures, and essays motivated feminist organization, and she also assumed a central role in the Tercer Congreso Nacional de Mujeres (Third National Women’s Congress) of 1939. This article focuses on three of her essays—“La mujer y la cultura” (Women and culture), “Feminismo” (Feminism), and “La mujer intelectual y el problema sexual” (The intellectual woman and the sexual problem)—in which Henríquez Ureña develops historical perspectives to explain women’s subordination as a cultural construct without biological justification. In addition to discussing how Henríquez Ureña’s feminist ideas coincided and differed from those of other Cuban feminists from the era, this analysis addresses her studies of women’s writing, which constitute early manifestations of feminist criticism. The article highlights Henríquez Ureña’s commitment to expanding women’s access to education and literature, while making visible the literary production of a woman who has been ignored by male-dominated literary history.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]