"[H]ow We Are Supposed to Conduct Ourselves": Crafting Maternal Facultad Counterstories to Contest Mexican-American Master Narratives of Motherhood




Chairez, Yvette

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This dissertation sets out to study the ways in which maternal facultad - the embodied, experiential knowledge of Latina mothers - may function as counterstory to the patriarchal master narratives of the legendary foremothers - la Malinche, la Virgen de Guadalupe, and La Llorona - that exist to influence the perceptions of mothers in Mexican/Mexican-American/Latinx cultural texts. Through a borderlands studies lens I conducted a Chicana feminist rhetorical analysis that uncovers and presents the maternal facultad of these mother figures and offers it as counterstory to the master narratives at play in the texts. I have inferred that the following three broad elements of knowledge may faithfully be explored as the foundations of one's maternal facultad in instances where the mother is unable to speak on her maternal facultad herself: 1) testimonios, 2) historical context, and 3) embodied knowledge. I analyzed primarily Mexican-American cultural texts in the genres of literary fiction, life-writing, and art where the master narratives of the foremothers are being applied as frameworks for how the mother-characters/rhetors experiences are understood and expressed. Through my analysis I found that when information from these three elements is stitched together, counterstories take shape that reveal more complete pictures of the mothers' experiences in the corpus I have chosen and, thus, show how the master narratives of the foremothers may be harming these mothers, and the institution of motherhood as a whole.



birth stories, Chicana art, Chicana feminism, feminist rhetorics, Mexican-American literature, motherhood studies