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Rewriting Academia

The Development of the Anglicist Women’s and Gender Studies of Continental Europe

Edited By Renate Haas

From a historical perspective, the full academic establishment of Women’s and Gender Studies is a radical and far-reaching innovation. Decisive impulses have come from the United States, the European unification and globalization. European Women’s and Gender Studies are therefore intimately linked to the English language and Anglophone cultures, as the near untranslatability of «gender» shows. In this volume 25 experts present surveys for their countries with a historical and European contextualization and offer fundamental insights not only for English Studies but also various other disciplines.
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Women’s Studies and English Studies in Spain: From Democracy to Transnationalism

Esther Álvarez López / Isabel Carrera Suárez / Carla Rodríguez González

Women’s Studies and English Studies in Spain: From Democracy to Transnationalism

1.  Introduction

The history of both English Studies and Women’s Studies is relatively recent in Spain, as these two disciplines achieved recognition in the last quarter of the twentieth century, following the end of the dictatorship in 1975 and in the context of the expansion and democratization of universities in the 1980s. Institutionalization then took place with unusual speed, fostered by the transformative urge that guided Spanish politics and culture after a long period of totalitarian isolation. English ceased to be a politically inconvenient language and Women’s Studies entered universities as the natural extension of feminist thought and activism, although not without difficulties. The extent of their consolidation in such a brief period of time is impressive, even if many obstacles remain in place. The information that follows tries to convey the history, as well as the depth and range, of Anglicist Women’s Studies in Spain, highlighting the main landmarks for research and education, in the context of the country’s political and academic history.

2.  National Context

2.1  Historical Overview: Democracy, Women’s Rights and Women’s Studies

Although feminist thinkers and activists can be traced back in Spanish history,1 both the development of the Women’s Movement and the ← 51 | 52 → establishment of Women’s Studies as a discipline in Spain take place after 1975, with the end of the dictatorship that followed the Civil War and which, in its 36 years of existence, destroyed all previous advances in civil rights and forced women back into a restrictive role based on the Catholic ideal of motherhood and marriage. Immediately before this period, during the years of the Second Republic (1931–39), a very significant development in the situation of women had taken place. Although the vote had not yet been gained at its establishment, in 1931, two women were elected to the Constituent Assembly of the Republic: Victoria Kent (1898–1987) and Clara Campoamor (1888–1972). They were to play a significant role in the achievement of women’s suffrage, finally recognized by the Constitution of 1931 (Article 36). Women were thus able to vote for the first time in Spanish history in 1933, although Franco’s subsequent dictatorship would prevent all citizens from this right between 1939 and 1975. During the Republican interval, women were legally and politically regarded as independent individuals; equality was specifically recognized by Article 43 of the Constitution, while quite extraordinary transformations took place in social relations, education and law. Aside from Campoamor and Kent, the era provided other pioneering women such as Margarita Nelken (1898–1968), elected MP in 1931, Federica Montseny (1905–1994), Minister of Health and Social Affairs during the Civil War, and, particularly famous, Dolores Ibárruri, Pasionaria (1895–1989), who founded the association Mujeres contra la Guerra y el Fascismo (‘Women against War and Fascism’), led the Communist Party in exile and would make a historic return in 1977 to preside over the constitutive session of the new democratic Parliament. The potential of such women and the many others who entered public arenas in the brief Republican period is a measure of the huge loss and regression that the dictatorship meant in Spain.

A number of women’s organizations had existed from the beginning of the twentieth century, ranging from early Catholic groups to those inspired by the experimental, progressive education project of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza. Many associations, both liberal and conservative, were active ← 52 | 53 → during the Republican period, but only those with conservative inclinations were tolerated after the Civil War, the rest being dismantled by repression, death and exile. The fascist Sección Femenina de la Falange Española was conferred great power by Franco’s regime, and aimed to impose the ideology of women’s subservience to men and nation. With the defeat of the Republic, progressive social measures such as those allowing for civil marriage, divorce, birth control or abortion were overridden, and there was a radical reversion in women’s rights, education and employment. The new laws punished women for working in paid employment and prevented their access to most jobs, allegedly to protect motherhood or their physical integrity. However, despite military control over the population, civil resistance was active from the 1950s in the form of public protests in universities and underground political movements, and some women’s groups, such as the Movimiento Democrático de Mujeres (‘Democratic Women’s Movement’), met under cover of housewives associations. While in the 1950s and 60s some reticent official moves were made towards liberalizing the economy and relaxing restrictions for married women, blatant legal discrimination survived until the death of the dictator: as late as the 1970s married women needed their husbands’ permission to work or to manage their legal and economic affairs, including bank accounts.

The dictator’s death in 1975, at the end of a year proclaimed by the United Nations as International Year of Women, brought a radical transformation to a country eager for change, where democracy developed at great speed. In 1978, the text of the Constitution was approved by referendum and became a reference for equality and non-discrimination (Article 14, on equality, reinforced by Articles 9.2, on public policies, and 35.1, on the right to work). In the new atmosphere of activism and freedom, during the period known as the Transition, feminist groups expanded and became very public. University women, together with those who had participated in political anti-Franco struggles, were active sectors, a fact that will be relevant to the development of Women’s Studies (Casado Aparicio 2002: 231). As many feminist activists were or had been members of political parties and trade unions, the question of the double allegiance to these and to feminist struggle (known as the ‘double militancy’) produced theoretical debates and sometimes divided loyalties, giving rise to a heated discussion at the convention held in Granada in 1979, where different feminisms met ← 53 | 54 → and, according to some historians (Birriel 2002), fell out, creating a schism in early Spanish feminism. There is no space to describe here the development of the feminist movement(s) in the country or their path to the multiple contemporary perspectives, but it is worth noting that the ‘political’ origins of Spanish feminism, growing in parallel to the struggle against the dictatorship and the campaigning for full democratic rights, conditioned the direction of early feminisms and the institutionalization of Women’s Studies, as will be explained further in the next section.

2.2  The Institutionalization of Women’s and Gender Studies in Spain

When Women’s Studies finally entered academe in Spain in the late 1970s, they did so against a rigid and centralized Higher Education structure, inherited from the dictatorial regime. As is true of other countries (Griffin 2006), Women’s Studies originated in grassroots feminism and were introduced into universities through the efforts of committed lecturers and researchers. The progress accomplished by the discipline in the first two decades of democracy in Spain has been recognized by Rosi Braidotti as ‘a remarkable story’ (2002: 203), aided by the yearning for change that pervaded Spanish society and was particularly strong in women.

This historical evolution, however, also produced more ambivalent consequences, such as a top-down approach to gender policies, their fluctuation with changes of government and a sometimes sceptical social reception of legislative measures. Within Spanish academe, it also meant the prominence of a feminism of rights and equality, obscuring the work carried out in less state- or public-policy-oriented areas of feminism, such as that usually produced in English Studies, which nevertheless developed steadily, often in more innovative directions.

Although many nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century feminist writings constitute antecedents of academic feminism, it is the end of the 1970s that saw the official establishment of seminars and courses in Women’s Studies, created by committed feminist academics. In 1979, two Women’s Studies groups (Seminario de Estudios de la Mujer) were created at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), soon followed by the University of the ← 54 | 55 → Basque Country (1980) and University of Barcelona (Centre d’Investigació Historica de la Dona, CIHD, 1982). These early seminars sprung from the areas of sociology, anthropology and history. New research groups involving further areas were also created in Granada (1984), Málaga (1984), Madrid (Complutense, 1985), Valencia (1985), Oviedo (1986) and Tarragona (1990) among the most consolidated (Ballarín et al. 1995: 25–26; Ortiz Gómez 2003: 9) and with strong Anglicist presence.

The 1980s, following the election of the first Socialist government in 1982, brought remarkable political and legal support for equality. One of the landmarks was the creation in 1983 of the Instituto de la Mujer (‘Women’s Institute’).2 This government-dependent institution would play a crucial role in promoting and funding research and dissemination of Women’s Studies, as well as in designing the successive triennial Plans for Equal Opportunities (PIOM), which, launched in 1988 and inspired by European Union equivalents, underlined the need for research and education in the field.3 Such timely support coincided with a major change effected in the structure of universities by means of the University Reform Act (Ley de Reforma Universitaria, LRU), also passed in 1983. Aside from establishing democratic procedures in the university, this Act emphasized the importance of research and collective R&D projects, which the Institute would eventually support. Further backing came from newly created equal opportunities bodies at regional and local levels, from international contacts and from EU funding. Given its exclusion from the continent’s affairs for over three decades, Spain was quite decidedly pro-European, and the entrance into the European Union in 1986 brought political models for equity and ← 55 | 56 → expanded opportunities for educational networking. Spanish feminists were active in networks such as WISE, ENWS or FICIHM, and in ERASMUS, ALFA, MED-CAMPUS and SIGMA programmes.

In addition, the Spanish university system was expanding. In the early years of the following decade (1990 to 1993), thirteen new universities were created across the country, bringing an increase in students and lecturers, and thus further opportunities for women to enter a male-dominated academia, even if this had to be done through traditional disciplines. The context of change and participation therefore favoured the expansion of Women’s Studies, although mostly at an informal level, in the shape of seminars, summer courses and research, not yet in terms of official degrees or even courses. By the end of the 1990s, there were seminars or groups – in varying degrees of institutionalization and intensity of dedication – in almost every university in Spain (Ortiz 2003), and two consolidated national networks were in action: Asociación Universitaria de Estudios de las Mujeres (AUDEM, ‘Women’s Studies University Association’) and Asociación Española de Investigación Histórica sobre las Mujeres (AEIHM, ‘Spanish Association of Historical Research on Women’), both created in 1991 and holding annual conferences to this day. Several of the Women’s Studies seminars were turned into Research Institutes as defined by the LRU Act (Autonomous University of Madrid, Centre Duoda at the University of Barcelona, University of Granada, University of Valencia), while the dissemination of feminist knowledge in publications, conferences and seminars became widespread. Women’s Studies was infiltrating the university system, although specialists were unable to escape the double shift, moving between their official discipline and the extra, often contested, labour in Women’s Studies.

Much of the early research was promoted and financed by the Women’s Institute, which crucially negotiated the inclusion of a specific Programme for Gender and Women’s Studies in the National R&D Programme from 1996. This helped to confer prestige and scientific status to the discipline of Women’s Studies, too often belittled by traditional academics. In fact, goals such as these were achieved through direct action of the feminist movement in academe, channeling demands through the Women’s Institute, and more often than not, with support from national or regional equity bodies rather than the universities themselves, which continued to be traditional and male-dominated in structure. ← 56 | 57 →

The fact that the Spanish higher education system is very centralized and rigid in its disciplinary structure (see Carrera Suárez, Viñuela Suárez and Rodríguez González 2005), together with resistance to change by more conservative university members, also meant that less was achieved in the area of teaching. Very few compulsory courses in gender were incorporated into official programmes, most feminist teaching remaining at the optional or extra-curricular level. By the beginning of the new millennium, according to Ortiz Gómez (2003: 11–15), there were 39 Women’s Studies groups active in 28 Spanish universities, 25 of them created in the 1990s. She also records 16 PhD programmes in Gender or Women’s Studies and 14 postgraduate (expert, specialist or unofficial MA) programmes, while 17 universities had one or more undergraduate courses in their curricula, almost all of them optional. Because the only flexible structure at the time was that of the PhD programmes, which were allowed free course content and titles, and could be changed without the cumbersome process of centralized approval by the Ministry, these were the earliest official degrees in Women’s Studies, beginning in the 1990s. The first was established at the University of Granada in 1990, soon followed by Barcelona, Málaga (1991), Valencia (1992) and Oviedo (1995).

In the early years of the new millennium, given that all national degrees and curricula were to be adapted to the EHEA, and that the Ministry of Education planned to do this through a ‘national catalogue of degrees’ which would radically change the map of HE studies, hopes were raised of having a Women’s Studies degree recognized at national level. Meetings and conferences (such as those organized by AUDEM, 2000–2004) brought together important actors in Women’s Studies to discuss tentative mappings of a WS/Gender curriculum, and a Manifesto was signed by over 1,000 university lecturers (Pedregal 2007). A subsequent change of direction by the Ministry, discarding the idea of a national catalogue (see Carrera Suárez and Viñuela Suárez 2006) meant that this first degree would not be established as a national syllabus, nor did individual universities implement it. ← 57 | 58 → 4

In contrast, MA degrees flourished at this point. Masters had not been an official category in the Spanish HE system until then, but the Ministry of Education decided to begin European harmonization by transforming postgraduate studies, and this became an opportunity to introduce official MAs in Gender and Women’s Studies into this employment-oriented category. PhD programmes and some of the former, unofficial postgraduate degrees (Títulos Propios) were transformed into official MA programmes. The first nine official MAs in WS/Gender/Feminist Studies were approved by the quality assessment agency, ANECA, in 2006;5 another 19 universities at the time offered postgraduate studies with some Gender or Women’s Studies content, several of which became independent gender MAs in subsequent years. The relatively established and internationalized history of doctoral Women’s Studies in Spain smoothed the process of meeting accreditation requirements, as some of the existing PhD programmes already held the prestigious Mención de Calidad or ‘Quality Award’ (Oviedo, Cádiz-Huelva) and many had international connections; they also all complied with the conditions of multidisciplinarity, equivalence with European degrees and engagement with social and employment matters.

This mapping did not vary too substantially between 2007 and 2013, although, given the constant changes in legislation and the ever-increasing prerequisites, not all programmes initially approved survived, and others were added or changed. The universities offering both postgraduate degrees (MA and PhD) are relatively stable, mostly corresponding to established feminist groups. Current MA degrees show a preference for the term gender vs women and many focus on equality, partly showing the influence of recent state policies, which governed funding and employment prospects. ← 58 | 59 → 6 The programmes share an interdisciplinary approach, with a number of them evidencing the presence and influence of Anglicist scholars (see 3.2).

The Bologna process thus initially resulted in many employment-oriented MAs in Gender and Women’s Studies, with PhD programmes losing their central role. Subsequent changes in government and constant restructurings have taken place, with an Act (Real Decreto) passed every two years or less (RD56/2005; RD1393/2007; RD861/2010; RD99/2011; RD534/2013). These affect accreditation requirements and, together with the recession, are making it increasingly more difficult to sustain MA and PhD programmes. At the time of writing, a new reorganization into Postgraduate Schools is taking place, which requires larger groups of staff and students for a PhD programme to survive, and the outcome of adaptation is uncertain.

As of September 2013, the national register of degrees (RUCT, Ministry of Education) lists 24 official MA programmes and 17 PhD programmes (see Table 1 below) in Gender or Women’s Studies.

Table 1


← 59 | 60 →


Source: RUCT, accessed 8 Sept 2013. The titles are originally in Spanish (our translation).7

This relative abundance of degrees against the odds of academia reflects the consolidation of the work carried out by feminist lecturers, and also the enabling effect of certain political measures. Between 2004 and 2011, important equity legislation was passed, targeting higher education. The 2004 Act against Gender Violence (Ley Orgánica de medidas de protección integral contra la violencia de género) established that universities would promote ‘training, teaching and research in gender equality and non-discrimination’ (I.I.4.7). In 2007, the ‘Equality Act’ (Ley Orgánica para la igualdad efectiva de mujeres y hombres) devoted a full article to the promotion of women in higher education (II.2.25), making it mandatory for public administrations to promote teaching and research on equality through courses in the curricula, postgraduate degrees and research. Other articles in this Act dealt with the teaching of women’s presence in history (II.II.24), sex segregated statistics (II.I.20), the use of non-sexist language (II.I.11), and the creation of Equality Units in all Ministries (VIII.77); several deal with equal ← 60 | 61 → representation in decision-making bodies. Also in 2007, the ‘University Reform Act’ (LOMLOU) was passed, and the preamble defined the role of universities as conveyors of values, meeting the contemporary challenge ‘to achieve a tolerant and egalitarian society’ (LOMLOU 4/2007: Preamble). The Act introduced mandatory measures for all universities, among them the creation of Equality Units, the production of periodic reports on gender equality; the balanced representation of women and men (a 60/40 limit) on all boards for elections, promotion and peer evaluation. Such legislation should have reinforced Women’s Studies as a discipline and created job opportunities, but implementation found resistance or passivity in too many quarters. On the Socialist Party’s re-election in March 2008, equality was still announced as one of the three main lines of action, a new Ministry of Equality was created and a paritary government, with six women ministers, designated for the first time in Spanish history. However, the recession almost immediately curtailed all developments; cuts were applied to all public spending and the Ministry of Equality, fiercely contested by conservative – and even progressive – sectors, was suppressed. The election of 2011 gave the conservative party an absolute majority. Since then, politically targeted cuts have seriously affected the welfare state and a deep regression in the legal handling of women’s issues and human rights is in process, including plans for fundamentalist Catholic control over women’s reproductive rights, a turn unimaginable a few years back.

On a more optimistic note, considering the relative youth of Women’s Studies in Spain, the development has been remarkable, and it is hard to imagine that they will not continue to produce some excellent research and teaching, even if hampered by political and economic drawbacks. In the new century, postgraduate degrees have expanded, and the same is true of competitive research projects obtained and led by Women’s Studies specialists. Journals such as Arenal, Asparkía, Duoda, Anuario de Hojas de Warmi, Clepsydra, Mujer y Salud; book series published by the universities of Cádiz, Granada, Málaga, Oviedo (Alternativas), or commercial publishers such as Cátedra, Icaria, KRK, Síntesis, have continued their work, although also affected by cuts. On the other hand, the variety of perspectives brought into feminisms in the last decades, often by Anglicist feminists, such as the focus on class, race, ethnicity, difference, ecofeminism, globalization, migration or space, among others, show that the narrowly ← 61 | 62 → focused ‘political’, equality and citizenship oriented feminism, born from the Transition period, has expanded its outlook and is seriously able to challenge androcentric and Eurocentric thought from a variety of angles. Internationalization, often led by Anglicists, has played a crucial role in this opening.

Over the past two decades, European programmes have provided external referents for Women’s Studies degrees, reinforcing their claims, and occasionally contributing with decisive funding. Several established feminist groups (Granada, Complutense Madrid, Oviedo, Alicante, Balearic Islands and Málaga) took part in the influential Advanced Thematic Network in Activities in Women’s Studies, ATHENA, which produced collective volumes, supported feminist conferences and created a lively educational and scholastic discussion across Europe from 1998 to 2009. Almost all official representatives from Spanish universities came from English Studies, demonstrating the crucial role played by this discipline in the internationalization of Women’s Studies. Similarly, the success of the first (and only) Erasmus Mundus MA programme in Women’s and Gender Studies (GEMMA; see 3.2) involving two Spanish universities, Granada as coordinator and Oviedo as a partner, shows the importance of European funding and prestige for the consolidation of Spanish Women’s Studies, as well as their continental integration. European research calls are at present looked upon as a further opportunity for overcoming local and national limitations, both monetary and ideological.

Given the huge recession that Spain is suffering, one cannot be too optimistic about immediate renewal of groups through new academic posts, but, bearing in mind that a number of feminist academics are finally well-established and have become full professors in a variety of departments and areas, they may at least have some power to make access smoother for younger aspirants. The question of the relationship with the next generation, already raised in 2003 (Ortiz 2003: 19), is currently tinged by youth disenchantment with traditional politics, reflected in the Occupy the Street movement and in young feminist activism (FEMEN among them); a different way of conceiving feminist transformations and strategies seems to be in process, and it can only be hoped that the next generation gets a chance to define these also in academe. ← 62 | 63 →

3.  Anglicist Women’s and Gender Studies in Spain

English Studies in Spain date back to 1952, when a Section of Modern Languages was created at the University of Salamanca. Although English language courses had been taught at other Spanish universities since the early twentieth century,8 it was not until 1954 that the first degrees in English Philology were sanctioned by the Spanish Ministry of Education for the University of Salamanca and the Complutense University of Madrid, followed by the University of Barcelona in 1955. International relations played an essential role in the consolidation of English Studies in Spain after the Civil War, as Tomás Monterrey (2000) states. The important contribution of The British Council in Madrid, ‘a triumph of the British diplomacy in its attempt to counteract the German influence’ (2000: 37), and the growing presence of American culture in the country in the 1950s coincide with ‘a significant Economic and Military Agreement between Spain and the United States’ (2000: 38), which provided the regime with some of the international recognition it required. After 1958, when the Madrid headquarters of the Fulbright Commission opened, this institution’s initiatives, together with those of the Embassy of the United States, were crucial for the cultural and higher education exchange between the USA and Spain. The 1970s and 1980s would witness the consolidation of English Philology in Spanish universities, partly as a consequence of increasing job opportunities in the teaching sector (both at secondary and higher education levels), but also due to the efforts of a generation of vocational academics who introduced new perspectives into the teaching of English and who had started to produce the first doctoral theses in English Studies in the 1960s.

Women scholars were very active in the process from the very beginning. After Tomás Ramos Orea completed the first PhD in English Studies in 1961, Asunción Alba Pelayo (1962), Carmen Vázquez Ruiz (1962), Doireann MacDermott (1964) and Patricia Shaw (1964) followed closely (Monterrey 2000: 41). They became professors in the late 1960s or early 1970s and contributed greatly to the development of the English departments in ← 63 | 64 → different Spanish universities. Doireann MacDermott introduced Commonwealth – later to become Postcolonial – Studies in Spain (Hand 2003), and also became the first woman professor at the University of Zaragoza. Patricia Shaw became president of the Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies (AEDEAN), of the Spanish Society for Mediaeval English Language and Literature (SELIM) and the International Association of University Professors of English (IAUPE), among many other significant merits. She was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1988 for her outstanding work in English Studies.

Patricia Shaw left her Chair at the University in Barcelona in 1970 to lead the English Department at the University of Oviedo, which she presided over until 1986. Shaw’s interest in and commitment to literature written by women was crucial for subsequent researchers. Unlike more conservative professors, who prevented any work in the field of feminist/women’s literature or gender perspectives, this inspirational scholar practiced and fostered such studies. As early as 1979, when only (male) canonical writers seemed to merit academic attention, her lecture on ‘The Romanticism of Mary Wollstonecraft,’ in the 9th English Week in Oviedo, was the only talk to focus on a woman. She would soon supervise PhDs in the area and enable other scholars to consolidate a strong Gender Studies group at the University of Oviedo, led by María Socorro Suárez Lafuente and Isabel Carrera Suárez. Anglicist women in other universities underwent similar processes in academe, encouraged by pioneers such as Ángeles de la Concha, Pilar Hidalgo, Barbara Ozieblo, Elizabeth Russell or Justine Tally.

The dynamic 1980s period brought a significant growth in student numbers nation-wide, together with a baby-boom generation who came of age just after Franco’s death, had different yearnings and concerns, and embraced a new language to name and define them. They were eager to try out new ideas and life-styles, as well as the liberties recently conquered, and to do so both inside and outside the country’s now fully opened borders, after joining NATO in 1982 and the EU in 1986. They looked to England and the United States as the home of major pop culture, along with far-reaching struggles for freedom, such as the civil rights, youth (hippy, anti-Vietnam) and women’s liberation movements. English-speaking countries had also been producing a groundbreaking body of theory and literature for over two decades that aimed to contest hegemonic values and traditional ← 64 | 65 → (patriarchal) notions of identity, sexuality, society and culture, while highlighting the interplay of race, gender, and class. In an all-white country with very little immigration to speak of (yet), race or ethnicity did not engage immediate interest, but issues of gender and class, of difference and equality, became paramount.

Women’s Studies underwent a relatively fast institutionalization, and by the 1990s had increased the number of lecturers and students in the field, the vast majority of which were (and still are) female. Sheer numbers, however, do not necessarily mean power, and all statistic studies show that women have had greater difficulties in reaching decision-making posts, in being eligible for national R&D project funding, and, as a consequence of these and other factors, in being promoted, whether in research groups, departments, or more political positions within the university system.9 The glass ceiling has been, and continues to be, a subtle but weighty reality in women’s academic careers. As described earlier, Women’s Studies managed to develop at a regular pace thanks to the support of the Women’s Institute, networking and the unwavering determination of established groups, Seminars or Research Institutes, a good number of whose founding members were Anglicist women.

These committed Anglicists saw the need to create academic spaces to reflect upon and disseminate women’s/gender/feminist work. Thus, in 1990, Professor Pilar Hidalgo (University of Málaga) presented the first panel on Feminism and Literature at the 14th (Vitoria-Gasteiz) conference of the Spanish Association for Anglo-American Studies (AEDEAN), which had been created in 1976.10 She coordinated this panel until 1994, when Elizabeth Russell, another pioneering and active scholar from Rovira i Virgili University (Tarragona) took over the renamed Feminist and Gender Studies panel (1994–2002). This section has been a permanent feature of ← 65 | 66 → AEDEAN’s annual conferences since then and is presently one of the nineteen permanent panels comprising different areas, subareas, and periods of English Studies. In 2013, the feminist panel at the 37th AEDEAN Conference included 22 papers from established scholars and young researchers, male and female, coming from 12 universities. A good number of other panels in the areas of linguistics, literature and culture also registered relevant contributions, a positive sign of the interest the field continues to awaken in both senior and junior academics. The same holds true for the international conferences held biennially by the Spanish Association for American Studies (SAAS), and conferences organized by different universities on postcolonial, Canadian literatures or specific topics related to research projects, as well as Spanish contributions to ESSE and other international conferences.

Feminist Anglicists have also been active and influential in national transdisciplinary Women’s Studies associations, such as AUDEM (Women’s Studies University Association, see 2.2), which has had two Anglicist presidents, María Socorro Suárez Lafuente (1999–2003), María Elena Jaime de Pablos (2011-). A number of Anglicists have also been invited speakers at conferences by the influential women’s history association AEIHM, and networks such as RING, as well as numerous multidisciplinary conferences.

Yet despite the quantity and quality of the research, and the extracurricular activities and dissemination carried out since 1975 (see 3.4), there has not been a parallel impact on education. Cristina Segura (1999: 136) argues that gender issues should be most present in teaching, as it is through education that prevailing ideas about women can be changed. The inscribing therein of the contributions of Women’s Studies, she contends, is key to eradicating patriarchal paradigms and effecting social change. While there have been considerable advances at postgraduate level, such a goal has not yet been achieved to a significant degree in the broader university education of the undergraduate levels.

3.1  Gender Content in Undergraduate English Studies

Sustained debates around the Bologna process (see 2.2) notwithstanding, the insertion of the vast bibliographical production and knowledge in Gender Studies into the undergraduate level in Spain is limited. The causes are varied and include rigid university structures, but it must also be stated that, ← 66 | 67 → like the English language until the late 1980s, Gender and Women’s Studies have been academically underrated, even while their success was feared in many quarters. Nevertheless, and judging from the increasing presence of gender epistemologies in the syllabuses, there appears to be room for hope. In a survey conducted to gather information for this chapter among Anglicist Women’s/Gender/Feminist Studies lecturers and researchers,11 many respondents reported that the specialization of lecturers, as well as the number of specific courses, has steadily increased, and that there is a crucial awakening of gender awareness and academic interest on the part of English Studies undergraduates. This interest is manifest in the number of undergraduate dissertations dealing with gender. Beyond their personal or collective contribution to the field through publications, seminars, R&D projects and teams, as well as numerous social, cultural and political actions – sometimes earning them valuable awards and distinctions inside and outside academe – most respondents declare that their long-standing determination and work have been essential to making gender issues visible. Given the scarcity of official courses, some regard the inclusion of one or two subjects in the curricula as one of the most significant achievements of all.

A look at the new EHEA-adapted English Studies degrees in the country is illustrative of the obstacles met in traditional perspectives and rigid national structures. In general, courses have been incorporated into the curricula of English Studies where there already existed a strong group of lecturers committed to Gender and Women’s Studies, who pushed their claims and succeeded in including them, even if only as electives.12 Given the shortening of former English Studies curricula (from 5-year to 4-year degrees), the new compulsory first year common to all Humanities degrees (where gender is unfortunately absent), the mandate to restructure specific courses to fit the broader Bologna spirit,13 and last but not least, the ← 67 | 68 → demands of more established senior lecturers to keep the(ir) conventional, ‘orthodox’ subjects, gender rarely managed to make it into the compulsory list. Only at the University of Oviedo and the Open University (UNED) was this possible, despite the Equality Act of 2007 (see 2.2). The Autonomous University of Barcelona created a unique Minor in Gender Studies launched in 2012–13, but is not specific to English Studies.

Most English Studies degrees do have at least one elective course, which is usually integrated in the literature modules.14 The specific weight of these gender elective courses within the curricula ranges from 3 to 8 ECTS, an acceptable figure were it not for the significant fact that students may choose from a list ranging from 30 to 180 ECTS. What does distil from the different syllabuses in most English Studies disciplines consulted on the university/ department webpages is that in order to disseminate the extensive literature in the field, lecturers have incorporated specific gender content transversally into conventional subjects. Many had been doing so since at least the early 1980s, as reported for our survey by Ozieblo (Málaga), Tally (La Laguna), Durán (Complutense Madrid), and Suárez Lafuente (Oviedo), among others.

3.2  Gender in English Studies MA Degrees

Increasing legal, administrative and academic requirements, sometimes including interdisciplinarity, have greatly conditioned the number of MAs offered by Spanish universities, so that not all departments with an English Studies degree have a corresponding English Studies MA. Those that have been officially accredited usually offer one or more subjects from the perspective of gender, only very few of these being compulsory. Among current programmes, special mention must be made of the MA in American Studies ← 68 | 69 → (MUENA), University of La Laguna, with four courses in all; the University of Granada can also boast three courses in their English Literature and Linguistics MA. As is the case with degrees and MAs in other disciplines, a good number of courses in the English Studies MA programmes are traversed by gender contents and perspectives, a common practice among English Studies MA lecturers.

In terms of leading transdisciplinary and international MA studies, the role of the University of Granada is particularly noteworthy, coordinating a consortium of seven European institutions that in 2006 launched the first European Erasmus Mundus Master’s Degree in Gender and Women’s Studies (GEMMA). GEMMA was reinforced in 2011, being once again selected for funding under the prestigious Erasmus Mundus brand and distinguished from amongst 177 proposals as ‘a pilot project and model in the field’ ( Anglicist Adelina Sánchez heads this interdisciplinary, inter-university programme, and the University of Oviedo is a partner university with coordinators and most lecturers from English Studies. Both this programme and the one-year MA in Gender and Diversity were initiated and have been coordinated in Oviedo by Anglicists (Isabel Carrera Suárez, Esther Álvarez López, Emilia Durán Almarza). Other English Studies staff in Spain have been responsible for creating very strong inter-university MAs: Pilar Cuder Domínguez and Mar Gallego Durán (Huelva), together with Asunción Aragón Varo (Cádiz), have, at different stages, coordinated and fully established the awarded MA in Gender, Equality, and Citizenship, with extensive participation of Anglicists. Many English Studies specialists have actively taken part in the creation and/or consolidation of specialized interdisciplinary Gender MAs and teach courses within them. Such is the case in Almería (Gender Studies: Women, Culture and Society, coordinated by María Elena Jaime de Pablos); Complutense Madrid (Feminist Studies); Balearic Islands (Equal Opportunities Policies and Gender Violence Prevention); La Laguna (Gender Studies and Equal Opportunities Policies); Málaga (Equality and Gender); Salamanca/Valladolid (Interdisciplinary Gender Studies); Seville (Gender Studies and Professional Development); UB, UAB, Rovira i Virgili (Estudis de Dones, Gèneres i Ciutadania); UB (Construction and Representation of Cultural Identities); Vigo (Education in Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities Policies), among others. ← 69 | 70 →

3.3  Doctoral Programmes

PhD programmes have the longest history in Gender Studies in Spain (see 2.2) and can be traced back to their pioneering past and through their legacy in the present. From the 1980s onwards, the research and vocational dedication of university lecturers were channeled through either specific PhD programmes or through courses within those offered in related disciplines. In Cristina Segura’s survey of Gender Studies in higher education for the early period of 1992–95, PhD programmes constituted by far the largest number of gender entries, whether in the form of courses, parts of a course or extracurricular activities (1999: 156, Table 3.5). A segregation of figures by disciplines shows that Literature at the time came first in the rank of gender entries (69), followed closely by History (63) and very far behind by Anthropology (26) and Education (24) (1999: 158, Table 3.6). Of the 69 entries for the overarching term ‘Literature’, a good portion corresponds to English Studies, as transpires also from our own survey. Respondents to the latter remarked that doctoral courses with specific feminist guidelines had been part of PhD programmes and duly taught since the mid-eighties onwards (Complutense Madrid, La Laguna, Seville). In Málaga, the Interdisciplinary Women’s Studies Programme (established in 1991) was not only taught but also coordinated by the English Studies Department for many years. Such is also the case with the University of Oviedo, where English Studies lecturers made sure that the gender/feminist perspective was offered in the curricula before (and after) an independent PhD programme on Women’s Studies could be established in 1995, also coordinated in its successive modifications and re-adaptations by English Studies lecturers and by the English Department.

The outcome of these first kernels of the eighties and nineties is the number of present-day MA and PhD programmes (24/17 as of 2013) in Gender or Women’s Studies. In terms of current PhD programmes with Anglicist leaders, there are a few outstanding examples: in Andalusia, the multidisciplinary Women in the Social Sciences, initiated in Cádiz in 1994, eventually became the inter-university Gender, Identity and Citizenship (universities of Cádiz and Huelva), which received the ‘Quality Award’, at present coordinated by Asunción Aragón Varo (Cádiz) and formerly by Mar Gallego Durán (Huelva); the University of Granada has an independent programme, ← 70 | 71 → Women’s and Gender Studies, coordinated by Adelina Sánchez Espinosa and located in the English and German Department. At the opposite end of the country, Oviedo has just renewed its six-year accreditation for the PhD in Gender and Diversity, running since 1995, awarded a ‘Quality Award’ in 2006, the Award of Excellence in 2011, and coordinated almost uninterruptedly by English Studies scholars (from 2005 by Isabel Carrera Suárez).

While PhD programmes have the longest history and now constitute the top academic achievement for Women’s Studies, it is also true that current restrictions may affect their continuity or force them into coalitions, as much larger ‘critical mass’ and higher student numbers are being required for accreditation from 2014.

3.4  Survey of Anglicist Research in Women’s and Gender Studies in Spain

Early academic feminism, in the case of Anglicist Studies, materializes in the completion of the first doctoral theses dealing with gender issues in the 1980s. Many of these ground-breaking dissertations focus on British women’s writing or American literature, with postcolonial studies making a first appearance at the end of the decade. Early English Literature scholars, Luis Rodríguez García (Seville, 1981), M. Luisa Venegas Lagüens (Seville, 1984), M. Rosario García Doncel (Seville, 1986), Pilar Sineiro Rodríguez and M. Paz Kindelán Echevarría (Complutense Madrid, 1986) write on Behn, Gaskell, the Brontës, and contemporary women’s fiction; US gender studies are pioneered by the theses of Angels Carabí Ribera on Toni Morrison (Barcelona, 1987), Esther Álvarez López on Afro-American women’s fiction (Oviedo, 1989) and Carlos Martín Gaebles (Seville, 1989) on gay fiction. Isabel Carrera Suarez’s comparative study of short story women writers (Oviedo, 1988) is the first to adopt a transnational approach to women’s literature, combining postcolonial and gender theory. Mercedes Bengoechea Bartolomé’s work on Adrienne Rich (Madrid, 1991) opens the productive 1990s with a study of language and gender. This new decade brings a dramatic rise in the number of theses combining Anglicist and Gender Studies, a figure which has grown steadily up to the present. According to TESEO, the official database of doctoral theses of the Spanish Ministry of Education, these theses have been submitted in 30 out of 40 Spanish ← 71 | 72 → universities that either have degrees in English Studies, English departments or have incorporated these studies and research into other structures, like Translation or Humanities degrees, or interdisciplinary postgraduate programmes. TESEO shows that the universities with a higher number of theses are those with strong groups with institutional recognition, mostly at postgraduate levels, although absences also reflect the relative youth of some otherwise active universities or departments, which could only begin producing PhDs in recent years.

Table 2

Anglicist PhD Theses in Gender or Women’s Studies 1981–2013
UniversityNumber of theses
U. Oviedo24
U. Seville16
Complutense U. Madrid14
U. Barcelona11
U. Málaga11
Autonomous U. Barcelona9
UNED (Open University)9
U. Granada8
U. Huelva8
U. Alcalá7
U. La Laguna7
U. Valencia6
U. Zaragoza5
U. Santiago5
U. Alicante4
U. Castilla-La Mancha4
U. Coruña4
U. Cádiz3
U. País Vasco3
U. Salamanca 3
Autonomous U. Madrid2 ← 72 | 73 →
U. Burgos 2
U. Córdoba2
U. Deusto 2
U. Las Palmas2
U. Jaén1
U. León1
U. Lleida 1
U. Murcia 1
U. Valladolid 1
U. Vigo1

Source: TESEO.15

TESEO confirms the clear prominence of theses dealing with literary, visual or cultural matters, with an initial prevalence of works on British and American texts. The latter group pioneered the adoption of intersecting categories of analysis that may include ethnic, religious or linguistic difference until, in the 1990s, postcolonial approaches burst onto the scene. This powerful drift can be observed in the increasing number of theses on the work of authors from the former British colonies, but also in the incorporation of postcolonial theory into other fields of research. Atlantis, the journal of AEDEAN, founded in 1979, evidences this shift. The first article on gender issues to be published in Atlantis (3:1, 1981) was Pilar Hidalgo’s ‘The Crisis of Realism in Doris Lessing’s Shikasta’ (‘La crisis del realismo en Doris Lessing: Shikasta’) and subsequent pieces are mostly about American ← 73 | 74 → or British literature until the 1990s, when contributions on postcolonial studies also become a regular phenomenon.

The field of linguistics is represented by Mercedes Bengoechea Bartolomé’s group at the University of Alcalá, who focus on cultural representations and discursive constructions (gender violence, gender identities in virtual environments, heterosexual desire in poetry, gender in legal documents, among others). They have also elaborated glossaries of non-sexist expressions (Spanish-English), and studied, within the transdisciplinary NOMBRA group, gender issues in the Spanish normative dictionary, DRAE (Dictionary of the Royal Academy of Language). The resulting volume, Lo Femenino y lo Masculino en el Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (1998) received a special mention by the United Nations. Bengoechea is the director of the research group GENTYLL (Gender in Translation and Language and Legislation) and has coordinated national R&D projects in the area of gender, language and translation.

In general, research groups have tended to materialize around the work of one or several committed scholars whose leadership and mentoring have become crucial for training younger scholars and consolidating research. This often happens initially in older or larger universities where strong feminist groups operate, but younger academics soon move to action in newly established institutions, which sometimes offer the advantage of less fossilized academic structures.

The cities of Madrid and Barcelona bring together a number of higher education institutions, some of which also function within regional networks. Feminist research at Catalan universities was unified at institutional level in the early 1990s, with the creation of the Inter-University Institute of Women’s Studies and Gender Research (IIEDG). Anglicist Women’s Studies are mainly associated with the University of Barcelona and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, yet very solid work has also been produced at Rovira i Virgili University (Tarragona), by the group Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Class (GREC), with Elizabeth Russell and Cynthia Wyatt leading its Anglicist domain. Russell’s intense involvement in feminist scholarship is evident in her many international publications. She coordinated a national R&D project on ethnic and national identity in contemporary Anglophone women’s writing, has collaborated in other national and European projects and established international feminist networks. ← 74 | 75 →

In 1994, Àngels Carabí co-founded the Centre for Women and Literature. Gender, Sexualities and Cultural Criticism at the University of Barcelona, thus institutionalizing activities begun in 1990 as the Seminar of Literature Written by Women. The centre publishes Lectora: Revista de Dones i Textualitat (Journal of Women and Textuality, coedited by Anglicist Cristina Alsina), as well as the series Mujeres y Culturas (Women and Cultures). The Centre’s stated aim is to analyze gender and cultural minorities in multicultural and postcolonial contexts, women’s artistic creations (cinema, literature), masculinities, and gender and sexual difference. Carabí has coordinated three research projects on masculinities since 1999, and the work in this area has now been extended to the University of Castilla-La Mancha, where Josep M. Armengol (PhD on masculinities from Barcelona) lectures in American Literature and leads the research team Bodytext. The University of Barcelona also has a dynamic research team on Women’s Creation and Thought (Creació i Pensament de les Dones). Also in the city of Barcelona, at the Autonomous University (UAB), Aránzazu Usandizaga led two national research projects, on gender and war narrative and on female authorship, gender and genre in Spanish and English writing. Felicity Hand has published widely in postcolonial and transnational women’s writing, and Sara Martín Alegre, a member of the transdisciplinary group Cos I Textualitat (Body and Textuality), has added Popular Culture Studies to feminist research in Spain.

Another node of intense activity is based in Madrid. At the Complutense University, Isabel Durán Giménez-Rico, Esther Sánchez-Pardo and JoAnne Neff, among others, have a long trajectory in feminist studies. The English Department organized its first International Conference of Women’s Studies in 1990, a biennial event which has produced ten collective books. This was the starting point for the creation of a research group on Women’s Studies in Anglophone countries (Estudios de la Mujer en el Ámbito de los Países de Habla Inglesa), led by Durán Giménez-Rico since 2008. Members of this group have coordinated eight research projects since 1999, most of them led by María Antonia Rodríguez Gago, Eulalia Piñero Gil or Julia Salmerón, and have supervised theses on a wide range of topics. Some of these Anglicists at the Complutense have also collaborated in projects with colleagues from the Autonomous University of Madrid, where, aside from a strong interdisciplinary group brought together by its Institute, there is ← 75 | 76 → an Anglicist Women’s Studies Seminar, founded in 1998 and led by Piñero Gil and Salmerón. Publications in the areas of US and Canadian literature feature strongly, and Pilar Somacarrera has specialized in Canadian literature, particularly on Margaret Atwood.

The Madrid-based UNED (Open University) has likewise been a focal point since 1992, when Ángeles de la Concha, who had carried out extensive research on British women writers, organized the first summer course in Literature and Feminism at its Ávila venue, six years before a degree in English Philology was implemented at this university. Subsequent editions were at times led by other Anglicist colleagues, like María Teresa Gibert Maceda, and held elsewhere (Pontevedra and Denia) in cooperation with scholars from other universities. Collaboration with other disciplines at the UNED resulted in the creation of the interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies, whose main areas of interest involve science and technology, language, multiculturalism and equal opportunities. De la Concha has also led two interdisciplinary research projects on gender, one on the cultural construction of maternal roles, the other on the representation of gender violence in literature. Anglicist theses completed at the UNED, supervised by de la Concha and Gibert Maceda, mostly focus on contemporary literature; the department now includes further long-standing feminist researchers such as Ana Zamorano.

One of the most productive groups is based at the University of Oviedo (Ortiz Gómez 1999: 88), where Anglicist scholars have played an essential role in the institutionalization of Gender Studies at postgraduate levels. The Women’s Studies Seminar (SEMUO), founded in 1995, as an interdisciplinary extension of the Permanent Seminar on Women and Literature (established in 1986), was initiated by María Socorro Suárez Lafuente, Isabel Carrera Suárez and Esther Álvarez López. The group publishes the series Alternativas, where Anglicist titles prevail. Álvarez López, Carrera Suárez and Suárez Lafuente have supervised most of the 24 theses completed in the field and some of their former PhD candidates are now lecturers at other Spanish universities – León, Illes Balears, Zaragoza, Vigo, La Coruña – where they have continued their specialization and have been active members or founders of seminars, new modules or academic structures, also becoming supervisors of a younger generation of feminist researchers. Carrera Suárez and Suárez Lafuente have taken part in EU funded projects and reinforced ← 76 | 77 → international connections with other universities through networks like ATHENA. Suárez Lafuente has coordinated two projects, on otherness in literature and on the deconstruction of myths about the female body, whereas Carrera Suárez, aside from participating in two EC-funded R&D projects on Women’s Studies (5th and 6th Frameworks), has coordinated five projects on topics ranging from the re-rendering of canonical texts by women writers, textual strategies in postcolonial writing and translation or the redefinition of national identities from postcolonial and gender theory, to two recent national projects focusing on gender and urban representation. The group also took part in two projects on women filmmakers and gender in cinema coordinated by María del Carmen Rodríguez Fernández, and collaborated in a number of national and international projects on gender.

Doctoral dissertations in Oviedo have dealt mainly with postcolonial literatures (8), American literature and culture (7), English, Irish or Scottish literature, some combining the analysis of visual and literary texts. Oviedo has a strong multicultural and postcolonial focus, and has produced many international publications in the area since the end of the 1980s. Carrera Suárez and Suárez Lafuente were the organizers of the EACLALS (European Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies) Silver Jubilee Conference in Oviedo in 1996, where gender papers abounded. They are now joined in the research teams by an active cluster of feminist scholars, already supervising PhD theses themselves and the authors of extensive publications on postcolonial, Irish, Scottish and transcultural literatures. Luz Mar González Arias and Carla Rodríguez González have long trajectories in Irish and Scottish literatures respectively, while Emilia Durán Almarza, Alejandra Moreno Álvarez and Carmen Pérez Riu are among the most consolidated in the next generation, reinforcing the Oviedo lines in performance, postcolonial and film studies, respectively.

In the Canaries, the adoption of gender perspectives in Anglicist research at the University of La Laguna began with Justine Tally’s work and the early interest shown by J.S. Amador Bedford. Along with Aída Díaz Bild, who has also published on the matter, they encouraged younger scholars to pursue this specialization, now supported by the University Institute of Women’s Studies (founded in 2007 as an extension of the former Centre of Women’s Studies, inaugurated in 1995), which publishes, since the year ← 77 | 78 → 2000, the feminist journal Clepsydra. This journal’s contents demonstrate that Anglicist research has played a prominent role. Equally, the Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses (Canaries Journal of English Studies), one of the earliest Anglicist journals in Spain, provides, as was the case with Atlantis, good information on the development of these studies in the country.16 The journal’s contents confirm that the 1990s are pivotal and mark the expansion of Anglicist feminism in Spanish academe. This can also be observed in the rest of English Studies journals in the country, which have progressively included articles on gender issues, particularly those with a literary and cultural focus.17 Also in La Laguna, Eva Darias leads the research team Literature and Gender in English, and has coordinated two research projects on Canadian women’s writing; many of the theses completed in this university deal with Canadian literature.

In Andalucía, the University of Seville, as one of the older Andalusian universities, was responsible for training early English graduates, and several of the 16 theses completed in the field were submitted by scholars who are now active in neighbouring universities, such as María Rosario García Doncel, Pilar Cuder, and Zenón Luis, or are part of the staff in Seville itself, as is the case with Carolina Sánchez-Palencia, an established feminist literary scholar. The Interdisciplinary Seminar of Women’s Studies, although officially registered in 2013, has been functional since 1992. The participation of Anglicist scholars has been strong and some are also members of the transdisciplinary research group Women Writers and Writings (Escritoras y Escrituras). ← 78 | 79 →

Feminist Anglicists at the University of Málaga, on the other hand, are mostly concerned with British writing and culture or with American playwrights, demonstrating the influence of Pilar Hidalgo Andreu and Barbara Ozieblo Rajkowska. The Association for Women’s Historic Studies (AEHM) was the starting point for a homonymous research group in the English department, which now focuses on American women’s theatre. Along with Ozieblo, scholars like Blanca Krauel Heredia, Miriam López Reyes and Inmaculada Pineda have organized conferences on American drama, one of them on the representation of gender violence on stage. Other members of the department have also analyzed gender issues in American and British literature, like Rosario Arias Doblas, Ruth Ann Stoner, Carmen Lara Rallo or Sofía Muñoz Valdivieso, with Silvia Castro Borrego and Isabel Romero Ruiz focusing on diaspora and migration. The university inaugurated the book series Atenea in 1991, which specializes in gender studies and has had important contributions by Anglicists.

Also in Andalucía, the University of Cádiz is the home of pioneering Women’s Studies scholar María Rosario García Doncel, who now coordinates the research group Cultural Studies in English incorporating gender perspectives. The interdisciplinary Women’s Studies Seminar, founded in 1990, includes scholars from English and American Studies who have at times presided it, like Asunción Aragón Varo, also part of the transdisciplinary and gender-oriented R&D project Afroeurope@s, led by Marta Sofía López Rodríguez, another Anglicist, from the University of León.

In Alicante, María Teresa Gómez Reus leads the all-Anglicist research team on Literature, Gender and Society. Members have participated in research projects focusing on the cultural construction of motherhood (Silvia Caporale), intermediality as cultural mediation (Terri Ochiagha) or women’s representation of transit spaces and urban cultures and literature (Gómez Reus), which have been the origin of several PhD theses. The University of Alicante publishes the journal Feminismos, edited by the Centre of Women’s Studies since 2003.

Some of the more recently established universities nationwide (the product of the 1990s expansion, see 2.2.) have had the benefit of young, dynamic scholars who participated actively in the structural organization of their institutions and introduced gender studies early on. At the University of Huelva, the first activities related to Anglicist gender studies take place ← 79 | 80 → in 1994, one year after the creation of the university, within the ‘Women and Literature: Women from Text to Context’ forum, which precedes the foundation of the Women Studies Seminar in 1996. Research projects at this university have been led by Pilar Cuder Domínguez, Sonia Villegas López and Luis Zenón, on women writers of the English Restoration, sexualities and gender identities in contemporary Anglophone cultures, and, with Belén Martín Lucas, from the University of Vigo, on transnational poetics in the 1990s.

At Jaume I University, the Seminari de la Dona (Women’s Seminar) has been operating since this institution’s foundation in 1991. Its name changed into Seminar of Feminist Research in 1992 and eventually became the University Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies in 2009. Anglicist Mary Farrell was one of its founding members, soon joined by Nieves Alberola Crespo. The Institute publishes the feminist book series Sendes and the feminist journal Asparkía, founded in 1992. Anglicist contributions abound in both, as they do in the journal Dossiers Feministes, published annually since 1998. Alberola Crespo participated in a research project on gender violence and its representation, and collaborates in interdisciplinary educational initiatives.

The University of Vigo also has a relatively recent but very committed group, led by Belén Martín Lucas and Ana Bringas López, both holding feminist PhDs from Oviedo. They run the ‘Feminisms and Resistances: Theories and Practices Feminar’ [sic], have published extensively, organized academic activities and coordinated research projects on contemporary women’s writing, mostly postcolonial, the most recent on globalized cultural markets (led by Martín Lucas). Martín Lucas is editor, with Cuder Domínguez (University of Huelva), of the journal Canada and Beyond, which has a declared focus on feminist criticism from its launch in 2011.

To some extent, Anglicist feminism at the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) is also a spinoff of the University of Oviedo. The English degree was implemented in 2001, requiring academic staff from other institutions. Specialists in feminist Anglophone literatures begin to arrive in 2002 and have integrated into existing feminist academic structures while also contributing to the development of new ones, such as the Dones i Lletres (Women and Letters) Seminar. They also incorporate gender perspectives into their teaching practices. The group organized the AUDEM conference ← 80 | 81 → in 2005 and have contributed to the series Treballs Feministes (Feminist Works), published by the UIB. Patricia Bastida Rodríguez, specializing in British and diasporic writers, and Marta Fernández Morales, an American Studies scholar, who ran the Chair for the Study of Gender Violence (Cátedra d’Estudis de Violència de Gènere), are currently the main Anglicist feminist scholars at UIB.

Aside from these universities, hosting established groups, it must be emphasized that work is carried out by specific Anglicist lecturers in almost every university in Spain. At the University of Salamanca, Ana Manzanas, Ana María Fraile and Olga Barrios publish on contemporary women writers in US, Canadian and postcolonial contexts. The same interests in US and postcolonial literatures are shared by specialists from the University of La Coruña, like María Frías Rudolphi, María Jesús Lorenzo Modia or Begoña Simal González, with two research groups including gender as part of their work. In Santiago de Compostela, the focus is mainly on American and Irish literature. Constante González Groba has coordinated research projects on space, gender and race in American fiction, and Patricia Fra López has published on American women’s literature. Manuela Palacios González has supervised theses and led five research projects in Irish women’s writing, with Margarita Estévez Saa coordinating a related project. At the University of Alcalá, aside from Bengoechea’s linguistics group, other Anglicists have applied feminist theory to the study of literary and cultural works: Carmen L. Flys Junquera (ecocriticism), Maya García de Vinuesa (African literatures), Esperanza Cerdá Redondo (American literature). At the University of Almería, María Elena Jaime de Pablos coordinates the research group ‘Women, Literature and Society’ and specializes in Irish women’s writing, while Blasina Jesús Cantizano Márquez explores gender in children’s literature. Adelina Sánchez Espinosa leads a research group on women, literature and genre in Granada. In Zaragoza, Maite Escudero Alías publishes on ecocriticism and performativity, and Silvia Martínez Falquina on American native women. Added to this already extensive list, a growing number of thoroughly trained young scholars, who have submitted their PhDs recently or are in the process of writing them, are contributing with specialized and highly theorized publications, and are eager to enter the academic world with this training. ← 81 | 82 →

4.  Conclusion

Anglicist Women’s, Gender and Feminist Studies in Spain have grown steadily since the crucial year of 1975 (which brought Franco’s death and the UN International Year of Women), and have reached a relatively high degree of institutionalization and relevance in Spanish academe. Anglicist feminists have exerted a considerable influence in Spanish Women’s Studies, introducing international perspectives into an excessively equity-oriented vision of gender, anticipating and reinforcing notions of intersectionality, race, ethnicity or postcoloniality, and adding depth to theories of masculinity, queer studies, ecofeminism, globalization or diasporas. Anglicists have also played a crucial role in reinforcing international networks for Women’s Studies in Spanish universities, a contribution sometimes duly recognized by their institutions. Within the area of English Studies itself, as is the case worldwide, the work of feminist scholars has transformed the field, not just through their dissident re/reading of the literary and cultural canon, but by thoroughly renovating the discipline in the addition of texts and authors and, crucially, through the critical stance and theoretically informed perspective that are essential components of feminist expertise. In both research and teaching, they have effected a major transformation, which can be measured by even a cursory comparison between the content of current programmes, R&D projects and PhD dissertations, as described in this chapter, and those existing in the 1970s. Resistances and obstacles do remain, as has also been discussed here, and the former official support for gender studies is unlikely to continue in the current period of conservatism and recession. Nevertheless, given the achievement so far, we can only expect that the level of commitment and the institutionalization reached will allow its survival and academic growth. The many consolidated research groups and the now well established feminists within academe will hopefully continue to mentor and enable younger researchers, who might bring new energies and perspectives into the dynamic world of Women’s and Gender Studies, and into English Studies in Spain.


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– / Johanna Birriel Salcedo / Vicenta Marín Parra et al., Universidad y Feminismo en España (I). Bibliografía de Estudios de las Mujeres (1992–1996), Colección Feminae, 3 (Granada: SP de la Universidad de Granada, 1998).

– et al., Universidad y Feminismo en España (II). Situación de los Estudios de las Mujeres en los Años 90, Colección Feminae, 4 (Granada: SP de la Universidad de Granada, 1999).

Pedregal, Amparo, ‘Propuesta de Declaración por la Plena Integración de los Estudios de las Mujeres, Feministas y de Género en el Espacio Europeo de Educación Superior’, in Los Feminismos como Herramienta de Cambio Social, II. De la Violencia contra las Mujeres a la Construcción del Pensamiento Feminista, eds. Victoria Ferrer / Esperanza Bosch (Palma de Mallorca: SP UIB, 2007), pp. 371–78.

RUCT (Registro de Universidades, Centros y Títulos), <> (1 Sept 2013). ← 84 | 85 →

Segura, Cristina, ‘La Docencia y los Estudios de las Mujeres, Feministas y de Género en la Universidad’, in Universidad y Feminismo en España (II), eds. T. Ortiz Gómez et al. (Granada, 1999), pp. 135–85.

Vargas, Ana / Eulalia Lledó / Mercedes Bengoechea et al., Lo Femenino y lo Masculino en el Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (Madrid: Instituto de la Mujer, 1998).

[Received October 24, 2013] ← 85 | 86 →


← 86 | 87 →

1 Notably, at the turn of the century, women who publicly advocated women’s political and cultural rights, such as Concepción Arenal (1820–93), who had attended University disguised as a man; Carmen de Burgos (1879–1932, pseudonym Colombine), journalist and writer; Teresa Claramunt (1862–1931), textile worker and trade-union activist; essayist and fiction writer Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851–1921), or educator María de Maeztu (1882–1948), who founded the Residencia de Señoritas for women students (1915), and the Lyceum (1926) in Madrid.

2 Initially located in the Ministry of Culture, and successively, with government changes, in those of Social Affairs, Employment and Social Affairs and (briefly) of Equality; currently (2013) in the Ministry of Health, Social Affairs and Equality.

3 Among the declared aims of the 2nd Plan for Equal Opportunities (II PIOM, 1993–95) were the improvement of the socio-political knowledge on Spanish women, through better statistics, research, and gender indicators; a further aim was to promote equal participation of women in the production and transmission of knowledge, and the critique of the androcentric character of science and knowledge. These were advanced but unfortunately only recommended measures, and their power of implementation was limited. Mandatory laws would only appear in the Acts passed between 2004 and 2007.

4 There was one exception: the young Juan Carlos I University (Madrid), offering two degrees in Gender Equality, one of them online. These have been cancelled by the university for the year 2014–15.

5 These first official MA programmes were taught by Universidad Autónoma de Madrid; U. Cádiz and U. Huelva, jointly; U. Granada; U. Jaume I and U. Miguel Hernández, jointly; U. Oviedo; U. Santiago de Compostela; U. Valencia; U. Vigo; U. Zaragoza (see Resolución de 17 de Mayo de 2007 de la Secretaría General del Consejo de Coordinación Universitaria, por la que se publica la relación de los programas oficiales de posgrado. BOE 14/06/2007).

6 The debates and history of the naming of ‘Women's Studies’ (Estudios de la mujer / de las mujeres), ‘Feminist Studies’ and ‘Gender Studies’ are similar to those in other countries, responding both to changes in feminist philosophy and to negotiation with university, local and national authorities. For further information on the Spanish context of the terminology debate, see Birriel 2002: 218; Casado Aparicio 2002: 233; Ortiz 2003: 21.

7 The renewal of PhD programmes accredited in 2010 (practically all those in existence) in the new, stricter conditions is currently in process, and data are not available yet in the RUCT. Oviedo was accredited in July 2013, and others should be doing so in the near future, some in a new form or as joint degrees.

8 See Tomás Monterrey 2003 for a detailed account of the educational reforms affecting the inclusion of English Studies in Spain during the first half of the twentieth century.

9 See Mujeres y Hombres en España, published by the Instituto de la Mujer with the National Statistics Institute (INE) at <> for data. Percentages show the classic ‘scissors diagram’ of women’s progress in the different academic levels: a presence of women which is over 50% at student level, but well below this figure in lecturers, whose numbers dwindle steadily towards the professor end, 18.1%.

10 Founded by Patricia Shaw, Javier Coy, and Joaquín Oltra. Patricia Shaw would be member number 1 of the association and President from 1977 to 1983.

11 Carried out through the mailing list of AEDEAN in 2013.

12 There are exceptions, however, as some English Studies degrees in universities with well-established and very active groups, such as Cádiz, Huelva, Málaga, Jaume I, do not appear to have incorporated any.

13 Usual course nomenclatures maintain traditional reference to geo-political areas (English, Irish, American, Canadian, African, Postcolonial, etc.), periods (Modern, Contemporary, Nineteenth-century, Twentieth-century, Medieval, etc.) and genres (Literature and Film; The Novel; Drama; Poetry). Most of these denominations are accompanied by ‘in English’ or its alternative, ‘in English-speaking countries’.

14 Literature and gender courses are offered at Alcalá, UAB, Autónoma de Madrid, Basque Country, Complutense Madrid, Granada, UIB (Balearic Islands), La Coruña, La Laguna, La Rioja, León, St Louis University in Madrid, Salamanca, Seville, Oviedo, UNED. Titles of courses refer to literature and gender/women, in a few cases combined with sexualities, class, race, ethnicity, culture, nature or identity.

15 Due to the traditional stigmatization of feminist research in Spanish academe, sometimes authors exclude, among other traces of their approaches, words such as feminism or gender from their keywords and abstracts, which complicates the search and may have distorted slightly the data included in this table. TESEO also has lacunae for theses completed in the 1980s, yet it is the only official record in the country. Where we have found or received information of others, they have been added.

16 The first relevant article in RCEI is F. van Leeuwen’s ‘Female Gothic: The Discourse of the Other’ (1982); a year later an interview with Doris Lessing by J. Fernando Galván Reula and Bernhard H. L. Dietz Guerrero was published, followed in 1985 by Justine Tally’s interview with Beverly Guy-Sheftall, ‘Black Women Studies in the 1980s’.

17 This list comprises Anglogermánica Online; AUDEM; Babel a.f.i.a.l; BELLS; ES; Estudios Ingleses de la Universidad Complutense; Estudios Irlandeses; The Grove; International Journal of English Studies; Journal of English Studies; Miscelánea; Odisea; Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses; Revista de Estudios Norteamericanos; SEDERI; SELIM. There is also a clear presence of Anglicist research in academic feminist journals like Arenal. Revista de Historia de las Mujeres; Clepsydra; Cuadernos Koré; Feminismo/s Investigaciones Feministas. All of these journals are available online.