Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Dramas of Distinction

Dramas of Distinction: Plays by Golden Age Women

Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 216
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Dramas of Distinction
    Book Description:

    Renaissance Europe was the scene of flourishing and innovative dramatic art, and seventeenth-century Spain enjoyed its own Golden Age of the stage. According to traditional studies of this period, however, men seemed to be the only participants. Now inDramas of Distinction, Teresa Scott Soufas offers the first book-length critical study of five important women playwrights: Angela de Azevedo, Ana Caro Mallen de Soto, Leonor de la Cueva y Silva, Feliciana Enriquez de Guzman, and Marfa de Zayas y Sotomayor.

    By locating the plays within their period, Soufas avoids universalizing women without regard to history. Her approach transcends the simple measurement of women authors against male models. Confronting the issue of female silence demanded by seventeenth-century Spanish patriarchy, Soufas compares the drive to limit and contain theater space to Renaissance society's efforts to limit and contain women. Yet these dramatists still found ways to question their own roles and male authority. Caro and Cueva investigate the difficult relationship between women and monarchy. Azevedo explores the ways Renaissance women become commodities in the marriage market. Cross-dressed women characters add carnivalesque implications to three plays in which gender identities are unstable. Finally, Enrfquez challenges the precepts of Lope de Vega'scomedia nuevaas she attempts to adhere to classical formal principles and reject the public playhouse.

    As a companion to the recently published anthologyWomen's Acts, also edited by Soufas, this study significantly contributes not only to Hispanic studies but also to women's studies, Renaissance studies, and comparative literature.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5919-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-11)

    My aim in this volume is to examine the works of some women dramatists in Golden Age Spain on their own textual terms and not necessarily in relation to the male-dominated canon already in place in theatrical, academic, and theoretical circles. I am not interested, therefore, in a direct comparison between how one of these women depicts, for example, a cross-dressed woman in pursuit of her male lover and how Pedro Calderón de la Barca depicts such figures. What I am interested in is a gender-centered reading of plays that are part of the literary production of Golden Age Spain...

  5. 1 Comedia, Gender, Convention
    (pp. 12-36)

    Definitions of woman’s nature and how she should fulfill the roles of constructed appropriateness were written and published by male humanists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries throughout Europe. Golden Age Spain is no exception to this field of discursive production, which inscribes the female in the symbolic as it institutionalizes her participation in culture and the limitations to her public agency. Seveteenth-century female dramatists, however, engaged the discourse on womanhood through representations of the social institutions in which the depicted women—royal, aristocratic, or from the middle nobility—lived and positioned themselves in compliance with or against the expectations...

  6. 2 Bodies of Authority: El conde Partinuplés (Caro) and Lafirmeza en la ausencia (Cueva)
    (pp. 37-69)

    Essentialist tenets underlay early modern monarchical authority and invested the male sovereign with a supposed natural advantage over his female counterpart; biblical and classical principles were interpreted to assign to woman the domesticated position of the silent and enclosed wife of a politically active and articulate husband. Gynocracy was thus a rarity in the Europe of this period. Vives’s treatise “Formación de la mujer cristiana,” written for Queen Catherine of Aragon concerning the education of her daughter Mary, for instance, is exemplary in its reiteration of the notion that the familial structure with the male head of household is the...

  7. 3 Marriage Dilemmas: Dicha y desdicha del juego y devotión de la Virgen and La margarita del Tajo que dio nombre a Santarén (Azevedo)
    (pp. 70-104)

    By 1647 the Spanish government had experienced its third royal bankruptcy (1607 during the reign of Philip III; both 1627 and 1647 under Philip IV). As J.H. Elliott explains, Spain’s fiscal distress in this period had multiple causes, among them currency manipulations that fed inflation, alterations in revenue from the New World, the accumulation of royal debts, escalating costs and excessive taxation, and the high price of almost constant warfare.¹ Commenting on this last element in particular, Elliott contends: “Intense fiscal pressures were brought to bear on every group in Castilian society—privileged and unprivileged alike—with the result that...

  8. 4 Carnivalesque Implications: Valor, agravio y mujer (Caro), El muerto disimulado (Azevedo), and La traición en la amistad (Zayas)
    (pp. 105-146)

    The masquerading elements that become strategies for resolution of the dilemmas portrayed in thecomediasstudied in this chapter transgress social and gender norms by suggesting the instability of roles and categories. Literary scholars often associate such strategies with the temporary celebrations and artificial privileges that hierarchical society incorporates during carnival, only to revoke them soon afterward. The carnivalesque structure represented dramatically in these plays, however, implies the seriousness of the challenge it offers society, for its suspension of expected behavior and relationships insinuates possible and representable alternatives to hegemonical sociopolitical patterns that disrupt the theoretical social harmony they purport...

  9. 5 Locales of Dramaturgy: Tragicomedia los jardines y campos sabeos (Enríquez)
    (pp. 147-168)

    The unique composition of two separate but connected plays,Primera parteandSegunda parte de la Tragicomedia los jardines y campos sabeos,with their accompanying choruses and interludes constitute the contribution of Feliciana Enríquez de Guzmán to the dramatic output of Spain’s Golden Age. Further, her short theoretical proclamations about the plays add to her efforts to situate herself as a woman author in the theatrical milieu. Identifying herself as a female crusader for classical precepts, Enríquez touts her adherence to ancient authority at the same time that her works question authoritative figures and their political offices and openly demonstrate...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 169-173)

    There were other women dramatists in seventeenth-century Spain whose works have not been considered in this study, among them Bernarda Ferreira de Lacerda (Cazador del cielo); Sor María do CeoEn la cara va la fecha, Preguntarlo a las estrellas, En la más oscura noche,and severalautossuch asMayor fineza de amor, Amor y fe,andLas lágrimas de Roma); María Egual (Los prodigios de TesaliaandTriunfos de amor en el aire); and Juana Teodora de Sousa (El gran prodigio de España, y lealtad de un amigo). In addition, Mariana de Carvajal y Saavedra, who, like Zayas,...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 174-182)
  12. Works Cited and Consulted
    (pp. 183-196)
  13. Index
    (pp. 197-202)