- Sort All Books
The Comedia of Virginity
Mary and the Politics of Seventeenth-Century Spanish Theater
Few characters were as ubiquitous in the collective consciousness of early modern Spain as the Virgin Mary. By the 1600s, the cult of the Immaculate Conception had become so popularized that the Hapsburg monarchy issued a decree in defense of the Virgin's purity. In a climate of political disharmony, however, this revered icon—often pictured as the passive, chaste, and pious mother of God—would become an archetype of paradox within the Spanish imagination.
In The Comedia of Virginity, Mirzam Pérez underscores how the character of the Virgin Mary was represented on the theater stage. Following a concise account of the historical, academic, and political forces operating within Hapsburg Spain, Pérez dissects three comedias—three-act productions featuring both drama and comedy—and draws out their multivalent interpretations of Mary. In their own ways, these secular comedias reproduced an uncommonly empowering feminine vision while making light of the Virgin's purity. The Mary of the stage was an active, sinuous, even sensual force whom playwrights would ultimately use to support a fracturing monarchy.
1. The Politics of Theater at the University of Salamanca
2. Performing Faith at the University of Salamanca: Lope de Vega's La limpieza no manchada
3. Mapping Faith at the University of Salamanca
4. Angela de Azevedo's Dicha y desdicha o devoción a la virgen: Writing for the Queen of the Earth
5. Spanish Mother to an American Daughter: The Virgin Mary in Moreto's Santa Rosa de Peru
"Through her examination of these three seventeenth-century plays about the Virgin Mary, Peréz deftly illustrates contemporary arguments about religious doctrine, female leadership, and the challenge of maintaining an overseas empire. With all three comedias, Pérez extends her analysis far beyond the plays to cast light on the workings of gender, religious iconography, and political authority in Hapsburg Spain."
—Jodi Campbell, Associate Professor of History, Texas Christian University, and author of Monarchy, Political Culture, and Drama in Seventeenth-Century Madrid: Theater of Negotiation
Mirzam C. Pérez is Assistant Professor of Early Modern Spanish Literature at Grinnell College, where her research interests include Spanish drama, visual culture, transatlantic studies, and art. She lives in Grinnell, Iowa.
5 b/w maps