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Reviews213 Gender, Identity, andRepresentation in Spain s Golden Age. Ed. Anita K. Stoll and Dawn L. Smith. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2000. 208 pp. Is it possible to "correct the oversight ofthe place ofwomen in Golden Age Spain," as the editors envision in their introduction? Certainly for the past fifteen years, questions of gender roles and women's writing have been prominent in Golden Age studies. Parallel to the publication in modem editions of womens's texts—convent literature (Arenal/Schlau 1989), poetry (Olivares/Boyce 1993), drama (Soufas 1997), and narrative (Whitenack/Campbell 2000)—have been numerous monographs and collections focusing from various angles on every aspect of women's position in the male-dominated society of early modem Spain. The present volume seeks to break further ground by emphasizing gender ambivalence , a hot topic both in the academy and in popular culture. The nine essays, all by well-known scholars, are divided into "Men Representing Women" and "Women Representing Men," according to the gender ofthe playwrights. Essay collections are notoriously difficult to review adequately , so that the brevity ofthe descriptions that follow should be read as no more than a necessary concession to exigencies of space. Catherine Connor's strong opening essay, "Marriage and Subversion in Comedia Endings," provides many new insights on an old topic. Revisiting the problem of conventional endings which include the marriage of previously rebellious young women and thus their seemingly inevitable subjugation to the patriarchy, she explores both the role of a play's ending in producing meaning and the possible responses of female spectators ofthe era. Five essays on sexual ambiguity and cross-dressing follow. In "Going to Extremes," Christopher Weimer invokes Balzac and Barthes, along with Lacan's theory of symbolic castration, in order to examine the sexual dynamics of Cervantes's La gran sultana, specifically the characters' "uncommonly explicit sexual exploits, confusions and confrontations" (50). Louise Fothergill-Payne's "Labyrinthine Questions" focuses on the "gender confusions" in Lope's La prueba de los ingenios and points out the play's strong thematic ties to his El laberinto de Creta. Anita K. Stoll's examination of Tirso's El amor médico and El Aquiles then analyzes the poetic language of the plays, mindful of Lacan's demonstration of "the essential function of language in the production and maintenance ofbinary sexual division [. . .] an ultimately fie- 214BCom, Vol. 55, No. 1 (2003) tional or symbolic distinction." Matthew Stroud also takes on the question of "fluid gender identification" in Spanish comedias in his "Performativity and Sexual Identity." Invoking Judith Butler on gender assignment (Bodies that Matter) and Lacan on "the relationship of sex and gender to symbolic signification" (109), Stroud analyzes the two cross-dressed characters in Calderon's Las manos blancas no ofenden, inquiring whether their gender resides in their behavior, in their clothing, or in their biological sex (110). He contends that the "ridiculous façade" ofthe comedia simultaneously "raises the fear of sexual fluidity, oftransgression , of perversion, then calms it, yet another example of Reichenberger's . . . order disturbed to order restored" (120). Part II opens with Catherine Larson's "You Can't Always Get What You Want," which continues the discussion of gender, voice, and identity , this time in the texts of Zayas, Caro, Azevedo, Cueva y Silva, Enriquez de Guzman, and other women playwrights of the era. Larson deploys various examples to defend the idea that, although these women writers generally did not enjoy what they wanted ("respect, staging of their plays, equality ofrecognition with their male peers"), they still managed "to carve out a space of their own" (137), i.e., a specifically gendered point of view identifiable in their texts. In "The Absence of Desire," Teresa S. Soufas uses Neoplatonic concepts ofdesire and lack as found in Marsilio Ficino's version of the Poras/Penia myth in order to analyze Cueva's rejection of "the conventional representation of courtly love stories," specifically prevailing male assumptions about women's susceptibility to material temptations. Sharon D. Voros then opens the complex topic of "wit" (versus Spanish "ingenio" and "agudeza") in Zayas, Caro, and Cueva, seeking to explain the curious failure of female dramatists to use the term "ingenio" when...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 213-215
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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