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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.
Mass Graves and the Recovery of Historical Memory in Spain
Unearthing Franco's Legacy: Mass Graves and the Recovery of Historical Memory in Spain addresses the political, cultural, and historical debate that has ensued in Spain as a result of the recent discovery and exhumation of mass graves dating from the years during and after the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). The victor, General Francisco Franco, ruled as a dictator for thirty-six years, during which time he and his supporters had thousands of political dissidents or suspects and their families systematically killed and buried in anonymous mass graves. Although Spaniards living near the burial sites realized what was happening, the conspiracy of silence imposed by the Franco regime continued for many years after his death in 1975 and after the establishment of a democratic government. While the people of Germany, France, and Italy have confronted the legacies of the repressive regimes that came to power in those countries during the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, the unearthing of the anonymous dead in Spain has focused attention on how Spaniards have only recently begun to revisit their past and publicly confront Franco's legacy. The essays by historians, anthropologists, literary scholars, journalists, and cultural analysts gathered here represent the first interdisciplinary analysis of how present-day Spain has sought to come to terms with the violence of Franco's regime. Their contributions comprise an important example of how a culture critiques itself while mining its collective memory.
Jehenson and Dunn explore the mythic utopian desires that drive Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in Don Quixote. By tracing the discourses surrounding what they identify as a myth of abundance and a myth of "simple wants" throughout Spain and the rest of Europe at the time, Jehenson and Dunn are able to contextualize some of the stranger incidents in Don Quixote, including Camacho's wedding. They bring to the forefront three aspects of the novel: the cultural and juridical background of Don Quixote's utopian program for reviving the original property-less condition of the Age of Gold; the importance for Sancho Panza of the myths of Cockaigne and Jauja; and the author's progressive skepticism about utopian programs.
Transformaciones del sujeto femenino en la narrativa española contemporanea
Through the analysis of six Spanish novels, one for each decade from the 1940s through the 1990s, Rodríguez proposes a new concept of the novel of feminine development and emphasizes the importance of the voicing of women's sentiments, passions, desires, and opinions that have not been expressed before in the literature of Spain. The study begins with Nada by Carmen Laforet, and continues with La playa de los locos by Elena Soriano, La plaça del Diamant by Mercè Rodoreda, two stories from Te dejo el mar by Carme Riera, Los perros de Hécate by Carmen Gómez Ojea, and Efectos secundarios by Luisa Etxenike.
Smitten by the modernity of Cervantes and Borges at an early age, Carlos Fuentes has written extensively on the cultures of the Americas and elsewhere. His work includes over a dozen novels, among them The Death of Artemio Cruz, Christopher Unborn, The Old Gringo, and Terra Nostra, several volumes of short stories, numerous essays on literary, cultural, and political topics, and some theater. In this book, Raymond Leslie Williams traces the themes of history, culture, and identity in Fuentes’ work, particularly in his complex, major novel Terra Nostra. He opens with a biography of Fuentes that links his works to his intellectual life. The heart of the study is Williams’ extensive reading of the novel Terra Nostra, in which Fuentes explores the presence of Spanish culture and history in Latin America. Williams concludes with a look at how Fuentes’ other fiction relates to Terra Nostra, including Fuentes’ own division of his work into fourteen cycles that he calls "La Edad del Tiempo," and with an interview in which Fuentes discusses his concept of this cyclical division.