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Concepcion Arenal ranks as one of nineteenth century Spain's most important women. Born in El Ferrol, Galicia in 1820, her principal fame accrues from her voluminous didactic writing on the social question. During her life­time she was a feature writer for Spanish periodicals, a contributor to international congresses, and an insatiable though repetitive expounder on the general themes of beneficence and prisons. After a brief career as a newspaper writer jointly with her husband, Concepcion Arenal was left a widow with two children to raise and bad only her pen as a means of support.

In a world of conformity, Arenal was misplaced. She was a vocal misfit in a troubled society that stemmed from unstable political governments, and her writings demonstrate strong attachment to progressive measures in dealing with evident socio-economic problems of her day. The major motivating power for Arenal's crusades for penal reform, women's rights, and caritative endeavors was her strong Christian orientation, result of a religious experience born in the depth of her personal problems. Her religious fervor permeated her writing, her thinking, and her resulting activities to the point where she was certain that the message she directed to her Spanish reading audience was of God speaking through her. Though only minimally rewarded economically for her efforts, Arenal achieved some international note due to her writing. Subsequent to her death in 1893, she reached a plateau of respect and fame which escaped her in life. Today she is considered a precursor of various social developments of modern Spain.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Robert William Kern

Second Committee Member

Jake W. Spidle

Third Committee Member

Charles McClelland



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