Passivity and Nonhuman Absorption in Julieta Campos's "Celina o los gatos"

Carolyn Fornoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article examines how Cuban-Mexican writer Julieta Campos reevaluates passivity as a transformative force in feminism. Unlike contemporaneous authors such as Rosario Castellanos who define feminism as productive activity, I argue that in her book of short stories, Celina o los gatos (1968), Campos takes an inverse trajectory, deploying nonhuman material passivity in order to unravel the logic of the self-actualized liberal subject. Rather than articulate feminism as empowerment-directed toward reform and positivity-Campos imagines withdrawal, silence, and motionlessness as non-normative ways to resist prescribed purpose. In the titular story of her book of short stories, "Celina o los gatos, " Campos imagines depression as an affective mode that figures the Mexican bourgeois housewife. The gendered construction of the pet-a sentimental and non-utilitarian accessory that inhabits the domestic space-is used to invoke the commonplace that the housewife is a similarly domesticated creature. While on the one hand, the housewife's negative feelings of depressive domesticity manifest themselves as inaction and withdrawal, largue that Campos reconfigures passive negativity into a critique of the productivity mandated by traditionalfemininity as well as by the Women's Liberation movement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-74
Number of pages24
JournalRevista de Estudios Hispanicos
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Affect
  • Animal
  • Depression
  • Domesticity
  • Feminism
  • Julieta Campos
  • Nonhuman

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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