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Alfonso X (1221--1284) reigned as king of Castile and León from 1252 until his death. Known to history as El Sabio, the Wise, or the Learned, his appreciation for science and the arts led him to sponsor a number of books on the history of Spain since its Roman settlement. Among them were the Cantigas de Santa Maria, a collection of over four hundred poems exalting his favorite patron saint, Mary, and chronicles of all the kings of Castile and León, Navarre, Aragón, and Portugal.
Alfonso X died before his own life could be written. His was a reign fraught with political intrigue and double crosses, almost constant war and equally constant diplomacy, royal largesse and economic instability -- all of which led to open revolt and efforts by Alfonso's own son to depose the king. It would be another sixty-some years before King Alfonso XI would commission Fernán Sánchez de Valladolid to write Cronica de Alfonso X to memorialize his great-grandfather. As Alfonso XI's trusted counselor, ambassador, diplomat, and legist, Fernán was an understandable choice, but in the centuries since, his convoluted prose has proven extremely difficult extremely difficult for scholars.
Chronicle of Alfonso X is the first and only translation of the king's history. The original "clumsy Castilian" of Fernán Sánchez has now been transformed into literate and engaging English.
The Politics of History in Medieval and Early Modern Spain
Monarchs throughout the ages have commissioned official histories that cast their reigns in a favorable light for future generations. These accounts, sanctioned and supported by the ruling government, often gloss over the more controversial aspects of a king's or queen’s time on the throne. Instead, they present highly selective and positive readings of a monarch’s contribution to national identity and global affairs. In Clio and the Crown, Richard L. Kagan examines the official histories of Spanish monarchs from medieval times to the middle of the 18th century. He expertly guides readers through the different kinds of official histories commissioned: those whose primary focus was the monarch; those that centered on the Spanish kingdom as a whole; and those that celebrated Spain’s conquest of the New World. In doing so, Kagan also documents the life and work of individual court chroniclers, examines changes in the practice of official history, and highlights the political machinations that influenced the redaction of such histories. Just as world leaders today rely on fast-talking press officers to explain their sometimes questionable actions to the public, so too did the kings and queens of medieval and early modern Spain. Monarchs often went to great lengths to exert complete control over the official history of their reign, physically intimidating historians, destroying and seizing manuscripts and books, rewriting past histories, and restricting history writing to authorized persons. Still, the larger practice of history writing—as conducted by nonroyalist historians, various scholars and writers, and even church historians—provided a corrective to official histories. Kagan concludes that despite its blemishes, the writing of official histories contributed, however imperfectly, to the practice of historiography itself.
Mary and the Politics of Seventeenth-Century Spanish Theater
Few characters were as ubiquitous in the collective consciousness of early modern Spain as the Virgin Mary. By the 1600s, the cult of the Immaculate Conception had become so popularized that the Hapsburg monarchy issued a decree in defense of the Virgin's purity. In a climate of political disharmony, however, this revered icon—often pictured as the passive, chaste, and pious mother of God—would become an archetype of paradox within the Spanish imagination. In The Comedia of Virginity, Mirzam Perez underscores how the character of the Virgin Mary was represented on the theater stage. Following a concise account of the historical, academic, and political forces operating within Hapsburg Spain, Perez dissects three comedias—three-act productions featuring both drama and comedy—and draws out their multivalent interpretations of Mary. In their own ways, these secular comedias reproduced an uncommonly empowering feminine vision while making light of the Virgin's purity. The Mary of the stage was an active, sinuous, even sensual force whom playwrights would ultimately use to support a fracturing monarchy.
Communities in Fiction reads six novels or stories (one each by Trollope, Hardy, Conrad, Woolf, Pynchon, and Cervantes) in the light of theories of community worked out (contradictorily) by Raymond Williams, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Luc Nancy. _x000B_The book’s topic is the question of how communities or noncommunities are represented in fictional works. Such fictional communities help the reader understand real communities, including those in which the reader lives. As against the presumption that the trajectory in literature from Victorian to modern to postmodern is the story of a gradual loss of belief in the possibility of community, this book demonstrates that communities have always been presented in fiction as precarious and fractured. Moreover, the juxtaposition of Pynchon and Cervantes in the last chapter demonstrates that period characterizations are never to be trusted. All the features both thematic and formal that recent critics and theorists such as Fredric Jameson and many others have found to characterize postmodern fiction are already present in Cervantes’s wonderful early seventeenth-century “Exemplary Story,” “The Dogs’ Colloquy.” All the themes and narrative devices of Western fiction from the beginning of the print era to the present were there at the beginning, in Cervantes. _x000B_Most of all, however, Communities in Fiction looks in detail at its six fictions, striving to see just what they say, what stories they tell, and what narratological and rhetorical devices they use to say what they do say and to tell the stories they do tell. The book attempts to communicate to its readers the joy of reading these works and to argue for the exemplary insight they provide into what Heidegger called Mitsein, being together in communities that are always problematic and unstable. _x000B_
Epistolary Fiction and Queer Desire in Modern Spain
The Evolution of Galdos's "Fortunata y Jacinta"
In this book the author gets to the very core of what makes a successful and dynamic enterprise. Building upon his earlier work, The Ascendant Organization, and slaying a number of business fads and sacred cows along the way, he shows how to energize the enterprise in key areas such as leadership, teamwork, and innovation. With the use of many examples and cases and building upon considerable experience he shows the way forward for companies to achieve a sense of purpose and to energize their organizations. If you are tired of the latest business fad, then this will be the book for you.
The Jewish community of medieval Spain was the largest and most important in the West for more than a thousand years, participating fully in cultural and political affairs with Muslim and Christian neighbors. This stable situation began to change in the 1390s, and through the next century hundreds of thousands of Jews converted to Christianity. Norman Roth argues here with detailed documentation that, contrary to popular myth, the conversos were sincere converts who hated (and were hated by) the remaining Jewish community. Roth examines in depth the reasons for the Inquisition against the conversos, and the eventual expulsion of all Jews from Spain.
“With scrupulous scholarship based on a profound knowledge of the Hebrew, Latin, and Spanish sources, Roth sets out to shatter all existing preconceptions about late medieval society in Spain.”—Henry Kamen, Journal of Ecclesiastical History
“Scholarly, detailed, researched, and innovative. . . . As the result of Roth’s writing, we shall need to rethink our knowledge and understanding of this period.”—Murray Levine, Jewish Spectator
“The fruit of many years of study, investigation, and reflection, guaranteed by the solid intellectual trajectory of its author, an expert in Jewish studies. . . . A contribution that will be particularly valuable for the study of Spanish medievalism.”—Miguel Angel Motis Dolader, Annuario de Estudios Medievales
Vol. 29 (2000) through current issue
La corónica is a refereed journal published every spring and fall by the Modern Language Association’s Division on Medieval Hispanic Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. It publishes groundbreaking articles written in English or Spanish on topics in medieval Spanish cultural studies, literature, and historical linguistics. Devoted to Hispanomedievalism in its broadest sense, La corónica also welcomes scholarship that transcends the linguistic and/or cultural borders of Spanish and explores the interconnectedness of those languages and cultures that coexisted in medieval Iberia. In addition to articles, La corónica features book reviews, reports, discussion forums, professional notices, and special thematic issues.
Crypto-Islamic Literature as Cultural Practice in Early Modern Spain