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Literature > Spanish and Portuguese Literature

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Subtle Subversions Cover

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Subtle Subversions

Reading Golden Age Sonnets by Iberian Women

Gwyn Fox

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

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Subversive Seduction

Darwin, Sexual Selection, and the Spanish Novel

Travis Landry

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The Tears of Sovereignty

Perspectives of Power in Renaissance Drama

Philip Lorenz

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.

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Teresa de Avila, Lettered Woman

Barbara Mujica

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.

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Territories of History

Humanism, Rhetoric, and the Historical Imagination in the Early Chronicles of Spanish America

By Sarah H. Beckjord

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.

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Transatlantic Correspondence

Modernity, Epistolarity, and Literature in Spain and Spanish America, 1898–1992

Transatlantic Correspondence: Modernity, Epistolarity, and Literature in Spain and Spanish America, 1898–1992 by José Luis Venegas explores how influential Spanish and Spanish American writers used letters in their literary works to formulate distinctive visions of modernity. Bringing into the discussion authors such as Rubén Darío, Miguel de Unamuno, Carmen Martín Gaite, and Gabriel García Márquez, Venegas reveals unsuspected connections between the authors’ literary use of epistolary writing and their opinions about the place of Hispanic culture and civilization within a global context. Transatlantic Correspondence contributes to broader debates on literary transnationalism and the contradictory nature of modernity. Each chapter frames literary works by authors from both sides of the Atlantic within key historical events spanning the loss of Spain’s overseas possessions in 1898 to the commemoration of Columbus’s quincentennial in 1992. This broad range of historical reference is counterpointed by the nuanced examination of a single formal feature in a wide variety of canonical and non-canonical texts. Drawing on insights from postcolonial studies, the book addresses the link between historical transformations that traverse decades and continents and specific stylistic choices in order to foster an understanding of Hispanic literary and cultural studies that is not limited by categories such as “movement,” “generation,” and “national literature.”

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Unearthing Franco's Legacy

Mass Graves and the Recovery of Historical Memory in Spain

Edited by Carlos Jerez-Farran and Samuel Amago

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.

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The Upright Brush

Yan Zhenqing's Calligraphy and Song Literati Politics

Amy McNair

In the history of Chinese calligraphy, few are more famous than the eighth-century statesman Yan Zhenqing (709-785). His style is still taught today as a standard, and Chinese bookstores the world over stock inexpensive reproductions of his works for sale as copybooks. Yet Yan's style cannot be called conventionally attractive. "Correct," "severe," "serious," "forceful" are terms habitually applied to describe his writing--rarely has his calligraphy been called graceful or beautiful. How, then, did Yan earn such an eminent place in the history of art? In The Upright Brush, Amy McNair argues for the political rather than purely aesthetic basis for Yan Zhenqing's artistic reputation. She shows how his prominent position was made for him in the eleventh century by a handful of influential men who sought to advance their own position by associating themselves with Yan's reputation for uprightness. Equating style with personality, they adopted Yan's calligraphic style as a way to clothe themselves in his persona. Sophisticated, informed, and intelligent, The Upright Brush illuminates an episode (one of many) in the history of Chinese culture where the creative reinterpretation of the past was used for contemporary political means. It will be eagerly welcomed by all scholars of Chinese culture and history, as well as by those interested in the making and reading of art.

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The Utopian Nexus in Don Quixote

Myriam Yvonne Jehenson and Peter N. Dunn

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.

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The Vernor's Story

From Gnomes to Now

Lawrence L. Rouch

Amply illustrated, The Vernor's Story -- From Gnomes to Now captures the spirit and genius of the people who transformed Vernors into an iconic American soft drink that has spanned two centuries of shifting public taste. With over seventy photographs depicting the history of the company, The Vernor's Story is an insider's look at early operations, as well as the firm's famous marketing blitz, featuring Vernor's distinctive green and gold packaging and its engaging gnome. Add to that the legion of devoted Vernor's fans, and the beverage itself, a unique, spicy, mysteriously flavored carbonated ginger drink that's appealed to generations of Michiganders and others alike, and you have the makings of a great American success story. A treasure on its own and sure to be a future collectible, this is a fascinating slice of Americana for Vernor's fans everywhere. Lawrence Rouch is President of Studio3/Innovations, a marketing and consulting firm representing fine artists in the automotive and fine-arts fields.

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