The United States of America, Chapter VIII [Moral History of Women]
Wilson, Emilia Serrano, baronesa de, 1843-1922
Serrano de Wilson (1834?-1922) was a Spanish writer who produced historical and sociological works, as well as novels, literary translations, and guides to conduct for young women. In this, her most ambitious work, Serrano de Wilson displays an encyclopedic range of interests, including history, ethnology, climatology, and botany, and it clearly reflects her three overriding passions: literature, traveling, and a fascination with the Americas. The product of firsthand research conducted during two voyages, over the course of which she traveled, unaccompanied for the most part, to every country in Latin America, including extended periods of time in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Cuba, and Mexico. The length of these voyages kept her away from her native Spain for close to 15 years. Serrano de Wilson employs a geographical approach to handling the vast amount of material at her disposal, describing the landscapes, detailing the flora and fauna unique to each place, the indigenous peoples, the European settlers, as well as current politics and literature. She visits haciendas in Brazil and Argentina, hikes the Andes in Ecuador and Chile, collects antiquities in Mexico and beside the shores of Lake Titicaca in Peru, and enjoys the company of fellow writers in literary salons throughout the continent. An interesting feature of her methodology is her reliance on a network of female friends with shared intellectual habits and interests, including Juana Gorriti, Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera, and Soledad Acosta de Samper, all of whom were invaluable in providing Serrano de Wilson invitations to historical sites and archives which her position as a single woman would have normally barred her access to. She frankly acknowledges the dependency of intelligent women on such networks of ‘sisterhood’ and endorses them as a model for enterprising women. While the majority of the work deals with Latin America, early chapters discuss stereotypes, both racial and gender, popular in European intellectual circles, while a later chapter describes her visit to the United States, specifically New York City and Washington, D.C.
466 p., illustrated, 30 cm.
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