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Heaven's Hammer and International Diplomacy
Spanish flotas (convoys) traversed the Atlantic throughout the colonial period, shuttling men and goods between the Old and New Worlds. In August 1750, at the height of hurricane season, a small convoy of seven ships left Havana for Cádiz.
A fierce storm scattered the ships from North Carolina's outer banks to Maryland's eastern shore. Spanish merchants, military officers, and sailors struggled to survive, protect their valuable cargo, and, eventually, find a way home. They faced piracy, rapacious English officials, and discord among crew and passengers (including dozens of English prisoners).
Two and a half centuries later, the discovery of the wreckage of the convoy's flagship, La Galga, set off a legal battle between Spain and American treasure companies over salvage rights.
Portraits from the Nineteenth Century
In nineteenth-century Spain, the education of deaf students took shape through various contradictory philosophies and practices. Susan Plann depicts this ambivalence by profiling a select group of teachers and students in her detailed history The Spanish National Deaf School: Portraits from the Nineteenth Century. Plann’s subjects reveal the political, financial, and identity issues that dominated the operation of the National School for Deaf-Mutes and the Blind in Madrid from 1805 to1899. Roberto Francisco Prádez y Gautier, the first deaf teacher in Spain, taught art from 1805–36; he also was the last deaf teacher for the next 50 years. Juan Manuel Ballesteros, the hearing director from 1835 to1868, enacted an “ableist” policy that barred deaf professors. At the same time, another hearing teacher, Francisco Fernández Villabrille, wrote the first Spanish Sign Language dictionary. In the 1870s, two deaf students, Manuel Tinoco and Patricio García, resisted the physical abuse they received and set the stage for the growth of a Deaf identity that opposed the deprecating medical model of deafness. Marcelina Ruiz Ricote y Fernández, a hearing female teacher who taught from 1869 to 1897, combated the school’s sexist polices. The Spanish National Deaf School concludes with Martín de Martín y Ruiz, the most famous deaf-blind student from the Madrid school. Through these portraits, Plann has brought life to the major issues that defined education in nineteenth-century Spain, themes that have influenced the status of deaf Spaniards today.
Sofía Casanova, a Spanish Writer in the European Fin de Siècle
This is the first in-depth analysis of the works of the Galician-Spanish expatriate writer Sofía Casanova (1861-1958), a transnational poet, novelist, journalist, playwright, campaigner, translator, historian and intellectual, and one of the first Spanish women to support herself as a professional writer. Casanova, born in Galicia in rural northwest Spain, married a Pole and spent over seventy years traveling between Spain and Poland. A challenging writer and thinker who witnessed the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the rise of Franco at first hand, moved in the highest political and intellectual circles on both sides of Europe and blazed a trail as one of Spain's first female foreign correspondents, her remarkable achievements were gradually sidelined at home in increasingly reactionary Spain until, by the time of her death, she was remembered only as a perfectly patriotic wife and mother and icon of Francoist femininity. This study addresses the scandalous disappearance of Casanova and her female contemporaries from accounts of the emergence of the modern Spanish nation. Arguing that women's perceived silence during this critical period in the formation of modern Iberian identities has significant repercussions even today, it takes her works as a case study for modeling a radical rethinking of the way we teach and research the crucial years around the turn of the twentieth century. The first study of Casanova's radical and compelling, but now forgotten, early narrative, it explores the Galician, Polish and Spanish context of her work, arguing that her transnational career demonstrates the inadequacies of existing models of national literary history. At the same time, recognizing Casanova's innovative and strategic use of literary genres and techniques traditionally denominated as "feminine" (and therefore excluded from discussions of "serious" national literature), it provides a model for re-evaluating the vast cultural store of popular and sentimental literature as a key part of the debates about the transition to modernity, in Spain and beyond.
Reading Golden Age Sonnets by Iberian Women
Subtle Subversions is the first full-length, contextual, and analytical study of the sonnets of five seventeenth-century women in Spain and Portugal: Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza, Catalina Clara Ramírez de Guzmán, Sor María de Santa Isabel, Leonor de la Cueva y Silva, and Sor Violante del Cielo
Perspectives of Power in Renaissance Drama
A comparative study of the representation of sovereignty in paradigmatic plays of early modernity, The Tears of Sovereignty argues that the great playwrights of the period--William Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, and Calderón de la Barca--reconstitute the metaphors through which contemporary theorists continue to conceive the problems of sovereignty . The book focuses in particular on the ways the logics of these metaphors inform sovereignty's conceptualization as a "body of power." Each chapter is organized around a key tropological operation performed on that "body," from the analogical relations invoked in Richard II, through the metaphorical transfers staged in Measure for Measure to the autoimmune resistances they produce in Lope's Fuenteovejuna, and, finally, the allegorical returns of Calderón's Life is a Dream and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. The "tears" of sovereignty are the exegetical tropes produced and performed on the English stages and Spanish corrales of the seventeenth century through which we continue to view sovereignty today.
In 1562, Teresa de Avila founded the Discalced Carmelites and launched a reform movement that would pit her against the Church hierarchy and the male officials of her own religious order. This new spirituality, which stressed interiority and a personal relationship with God, was considered dangerous and subversive. It provoked the suspicion of the Inquisition and the wrath of unreformed Carmelites, especially the Andalusian friars, who favored the lax practices of their traditional monasteries. The Inquisition investigated Teresa repeatedly, and the Carmelite General had her detained. But even during the most terrible periods of persecution, Teresa continued to fight for the reform using the weapon she wielded best: the pen. Teresa wrote hundreds, perhaps thousands, of letters to everyone from the King to prelates to mothers of novices.
Teresa's epistolary writing reveals how she used her political acumen to dodge inquisitors and negotiate the thorny issues of the reform, facing off the authorities--albeit with considerable tact--and reprimanding priests and nuns who failed to follow her orders. Her letters bring to light the different strategies she used--code names, secret routing--in order to communicate with nuns and male allies. They show how she manipulated language, varying her tone and rhetoric according to the recipient or slipping into deliberate vagueness in order to avoid divulging secrets. What emerges from her correspondence is a portrait of extraordinary courage, ability, and shrewdness.
In the sixteenth century, the word letrado (lettered) referred to the learned men of the Church. Teresa treated letrados with great respect and always insisted on her own lack of learning. The irony is that although women could not be letradas, Teresa was, as her correspondence shows, "lettered" in more ways than one.
Humanism, Rhetoric, and the Historical Imagination in the Early Chronicles of Spanish America
Sarah H. Beckjord’s Territories of History explores the vigorous but largely unacknowledged spirit of reflection, debate, and experimentation present in foundational Spanish American writing. In historical works by writers such as Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, Bartolomé de Las Casas, and Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Beckjord argues, the authors were not only informed by the spirit of inquiry present in the humanist tradition but also drew heavily from their encounters with New World peoples. More specifically, their attempts to distinguish superstition and magic from science and religion in the New World significantly influenced the aforementioned chroniclers, who increasingly directed their insights away from the description of native peoples and toward a reflection on the nature of truth, rhetoric, and fiction in writing history. Due to a convergence of often contradictory information from a variety of sources—eyewitness accounts, historiography, imaginative literature, as well as broader philosophical and theological influences—categorizing historical texts from this period poses no easy task, but Beckjord sifts through the information in an effective, logical manner. At the heart of Beckjord’s study, though, is a fundamental philosophical problem: the slippery nature of truth—especially when dictated by stories. Territories of History engages both a body of emerging scholarship on early modern epistemology and empiricism and recent developments in narrative theory to illuminate the importance of these colonial authors’ critical insights. In highlighting the parallels between the sixteenth-century debates and poststructuralist approaches to the study of history, Beckjord uncovers an important legacy of the Hispanic intellectual tradition and updates the study of colonial historiography in view of recent discussions of narrative theory.