Gender, Race and Patriotism in the Works of Nisia Floresta

Nisia Floresta Brasileira Augusta (1810-85) published prolifically in Brazil and Europe on the position of women and other subjects central to Brazilian national identity after independence. As such she is a hugely significant figure in the development of women's writing and feminist discourse in Brazil, yet this book is the first full length study of her work to be published in English. Through a close analysis of the writer's engagement with the discourses of women's rights, education, slavery, literary Indianism, political ideology and nation-building, this study challenges some of the more monolithic constructions of the writer that still prevail in Brazilian literary historiography. Beginning with a fresh analysis of Floresta's writing on women, this book identifies the influences and motivations that determined her stance and reassesses the writer's position in Brazil's feminist canon. A consideration of her participation in further social and political discourses exposes the hagiographic and reductive nature of her definition as an abolitionist and republican. It also reveals the problematic intersections of gender, race and class in her work. In particular, this study highlights the important part that patriotism plays in shaping the writer's approach to these issues, indicating how the patriotic rhetoric she consistently employs lends additional power and influence to her work, but simultaneously curtails and distorts the positions she adopts and the appeals she makes. Charlotte Hammond Matthews is a Lecturer in Portuguese at the University of Edinburgh.