In 1803 in the colonial South American city of La Plata, Doñ, a Martina Vilvado y Balverde presented herself to church and crown officials to denounce her husband of more than four years, Don Antonio Yta, as a “woman in disguise.” Forced to submit to a medical inspection that revealed a woman’s body, Don Antonio confessed to having been María Yta, but continued to assert his maleness and claimed to have a functional “member” that appeared, he said, when necessary.
Passing to América is at once a historical biography and an in-depth examination of the sex/gender complex in an era before “gender” had been divorced from “sex.” The book presents readers with the original court docket, including Don Antonio’s extended confession, in which he tells his life story, and the equally extraordinary biographical sketch offered by Felipa Ybañez of her “son María,” both in English translation and the original Spanish. Thomas A. Abercrombie’s analysis not only grapples with how to understand the sex/gender system within the Spanish Atlantic empire at the turn of the nineteenth century but also explores what Antonio/María and contemporaries can teach us about the complexities of the relationship between sex and gender today.
Passing to América brings to light a previously obscure case of gender transgression and puts Don Antonio’s life into its social and historical context in order to explore the meaning of “trans” identity in Spain and its American colonies. This accessible and intriguing study provides new insight into historical and contemporary gender construction that will interest students and scholars of gender studies and colonial Spanish literature and history.Book Details
In Transcending Textuality, Ariadna García-Bryce provides a fresh look at post-Trent political culture and Francisco de Quevedo’s place within it by examining his works in relation to two potentially rival means of transmitting authority: spectacle and print. Quevedo’s highly theatrical conceptions of power are identified with court ceremony, devotional ritual, monarchical and spiritual imagery, and religious and classical oratory. At the same time, his investment in physical and emotional display is shown to be fraught with concern about the decline of body-centered modes of propagating authority in the increasingly impersonalized world of print. Transcending Textuality shows that Quevedo’s poetics are, in great measure, defined by the attempt to retain in writing the qualities of live physical display.Book Details
Enide’s tattered dress and Erec’s fabulous coronation robe; Yvain’s nudity in the forest, which prevents maidens who know him well clothed from identifying him; Lanval’s fairy-lady parading about in the Arthurian court, scantily dressed, for all to observe: just why is clothing so important in twelfth-century French romance? This interdisciplinary book explores how writers of this era used clothing as a signifier with multiple meanings for many narrative purposes. Clothing figured prominently in twelfth-century France, where exotic fabrics and furs came to define a social elite. Monica Wright shows that representations of clothing are not mere embellishments to the text; they help form the textual weave of the romances in which they appear. This book is about how these descriptions are constructed, what they mean, and how clothing becomes an active part of romance composition—the ways in which writers use it to develop and elaborate character, to advance or stall the plot, and to structure the narrative generally.Book Details
What is love? Popular culture bombards us with notions of the intoxicating capacities of love or of beguiling women who can bewitch or heal—to the point that it is easy to believe that such images are timeless and universal. Not so, argues Laine Doggett in Love Cures. Aspects of love that are expressed in popular music—such as “love is a drug,” “sexual healing,” and “love potion number nine”—trace deep roots to Old French romance of the high Middle Ages. A young woman heals a poisoned knight. A mother prepares a love potion for a daughter who will marry a stranger in a faraway land. How can readers interpret such events? In contrast to scholars who have dismissed these women as fantasy figures or labeled them “witches,” Doggett looks at them in the light of medical and magical practices of the high Middle Ages. Love Cures argues that these practitioners, as represented in romance, have shaped modern notions of love. Love Cures seeks to engage scholars of love, marriage, and magic in disciplines as diverse as literature, history, anthropology, and philosophy.
Present scholarly conversations about early European and global modernity have yet to acknowledge fully the significance of Spain and Spanish cultural production. Poetry and ideology in early modern Spain form the backdrop for Imperial Lyric, which seeks to address this shortcoming. Based on readings of representative poems by eight Peninsular writers, Imperial Lyric demonstrates that the lyric was a crucial site for the negotiation of masculine identity as Spain’s noblemen were alternately cajoled and coerced into abandoning their identifications with images of the medieval hero and assuming instead the posture of subjects. The book thus demonstrates the importance of Peninsular letters to our understanding of shifting ideologies of the self, language, and the state that mark watersheds for European and American modernity. At the same time, this book aims to complicate the historicizing turn we have taken in the field of early modern studies by considering a threshold of modernity that was specific to poetry, one that was inscribed in Spanish culture when the genre of lyric poetry attained a certain kind of prestige at the expense of epic. Imperial Lyric breaks striking new ground in the field of early modern studies.Book Details
Ellen Sapega’s study documents artistic responses to images of the Portuguese nation promoted by Portugal’s Office of State Propaganda under António de Oliveira Salazar. Combining archival research with current theories informing the areas of memory studies, visual culture, women’s autobiography, and postcolonial studies, the author follows the trajectory of three well-known cultural figures working in Portugal and its colonies during the 1930s and 1940s.
The book begins with an analysis of official Salazarist culture as manifested in two state-sponsored commemorative events: the 1938 contest to discover the “Most Portuguese Village in Portugal” and the 1940 Exposition of the Portuguese-Speaking World. While these events fulfilled their role as state propaganda, presenting a patriotic and unambiguous view of Portugal’s past and present, other cultural projects of the day pointed to contradictions inherent in the nation’s social fabric. In their responses to the challenging conditions faced by writers and artists during this period and the government’s relentless promotion of an increasingly conservative and traditionalist image of Portugal, José de Almada Negreiros, Irene Lisboa, and Baltasar Lopes subtly proposed revisions and alternatives to official views of Portuguese experience.
These authors questioned and rewrote the metaphors of collective Portuguese and Lusophone identity employed by the ideologues of Salazar’s Estado Novo regime to ensure and administer the consent of the national populace. It is evident, today, that their efforts resulted in the creation of vital, enduring texts and cultural artifacts.
Christine de Pizan, one of the earliest known women authors, wrote the Livre de paix (Book of Peace) between 1412 and 1414, a period of severe corruption and civil unrest in her native France. The book offered Pizan a platform from which to expound her views on contemporary politics and to put forth a strict moral code to which she believed all governments should aspire. The text's intended recipient was the dauphin, Louis of Guyenne; Christine felt that Louis had the political and social influence to fill a void left by years of incompetent leadership. Drawing in equal parts from the Bible and from classical ethical theory, the Livre de paix was revolutionary in its timing, viewpoint, and content.
This volume, edited by Karen Green, Constant J. Mews, and Janice Pinder, boasts the first full English translation of Pizan's work along with the original French text. The editors also place the Livre de paix in historical context, provide a brief biography of Pizan, and offer insight into the translation process.
In Career Stories, Juliette Rogers considers a body of largely unexamined novels from the Belle Époque that defy the usual categories allowed the female protagonist of the period. While most literary studies of the Belle Époque (1880–1914) focus on the conventional housewife or harlot distinction for female protagonists, the heroines investigated in Career Stories are professional lawyers, doctors, teachers, writers, archeologists, and scientists.
In addition to the one well-known woman writer from the Belle Époque, Colette, this study will expand our knowledge of relatively unknown authors, including Gabrielle Reval, Marcelle Tinayre, and Colette Yver, who actively participated in contemporary debates on women's possible roles in the public domain and in professional careers during this period. Career Stories seeks to understand early twentieth century France by examining novels written about professional women, bourgeois and working-class heroines, and the particular dilemmas that they faced. This book contributes a new facet to literary histories of the Belle Époque: a subgenre of the bildungsroman that flourished briefly during the first decade of the twentieth century in France. Rogers terms this subgenre the female berufsroman, or novel of women's professional development.
Career Stories will change the way we think about the Belle Époque and the interwar period in French literary history, because these women writers and their novels changed the direction that fiction writing would take in post-World War I France.
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.