“Distinguished Ladies” and the Doctrine of Womanhood: Auto-surveillance and Auto-performance in Diamela Eltit’s E. Luminata
Keywords:Autoperformativity, Diamela Eltit, Chilean Literature
This essay reads Diamela Eltit’s E. Luminata as form of auto-performative ‘anti-manual’ which employs a range of autobiographical forms and functions in protest of codes of womanhood published in an actual manual of women’s con-duct authored by Augusto Pinochet’s First Lady and enforced by his regime’s National Secretariat of Women which organized forms of auto-surveillance by which women policed themselves and one another. It argues that if the NSW functioned as a mechanism for the surveillance and discipline of women in Pi-nochet’s police state, Eltit’s text functions as a subversive auto-performance of Chilean womanhood offered in protest against the state censorship of women’s autobiography. The reading demonstrates the ways in which E. Luminata stra-tegically performs Eltit’s own public self-representation of womanhood which, although meant to be impossible, is not unattainable in the regime.
This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on October 19th 2015 and published on October 17th 2017.
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