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SPAN7302 - The Theatre in Spain's Golden Age

Value: 0.5 course units
Dr Alexander Samson
Teaching structure:
one essay (40%); and one unseen two-hour written examination (60%).

Module Description:

The module will trace the development of commercial theatre in early modern Spain from its medieval origins in church performances and Corpus Christi celebrations, to its heyday in the 17th century. The theatre was the first truly popular cultural form of the modern world and attracted its audiences from all levels of society. Our discussions will focus around a number of themes including: power, anti-theatricalism, representations of kingship, honour, gender and cross-dressing, race, the New World, sexuality, the Don Juan myth and sumptuary law.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

The editions listed here are merely recommendations. Cátedra or Castalia editions of any of the plays are fine. Just make sure your edition has line numbers. There are also an enormous number of comedias freely available online through either the Comedia website or the Association for Hispanic Classical Theatre. Photocopies will also be distributed.

  • Lope de Vega, El villano en su rincón, Juan María Marín (ed.) (Madrid, Cátedra, 1995).
  • Miguel de Cervantes, La Numancia, Alfredo Hermengildo (ed.) (Madrid, Castalia, 1994).
  • Tirso de Molina, El burlador de Sevilla, Alfredo Rodríguez López-Vázquez (ed.) (Madrid, Cátedra, 2000).
  • Lope de Vega, Lo fingido verdadero, M.T. Cattaneo (ed.) (Roma, Bulzoni, 1992).

Background reading

  • Ignacio Arellano, Historia del teatro Español del siglo XVII (Madrid, Cátedra, 1995).
  • José María Díez Borque, Sociedad y teatro en la España de Lope de Vega, Antoni Bosch (ed.) (Barcelona, Bosch Editorial, 1978).
  • Emilio Cotarelo y Mori, Bibliografía de las controversias sobre la licitud del teatro en España (Madrid, Revista de Archivos y Museos, 1904).
  • Melveena McKendrick, Theatre in Spain, 1490 - 1700 (Cambridge University Press, 1989).
  • Jeremy Robbins, The Challenges of Uncertainty: An Introduction to Seventeenth-Century Spanish Literature (London, Duckworth, 1998), Section VI - Forming and Performing Identity, pp. 117 - 131.
  • J. M. Ruano de la Haza and John J. Allen, Los teatros comerciales del siglo XVII y la escenificación de la comedia (Madrid, Editorial Castalia, Nueva Biblioteca de Erudición y Crítica, 1994).
  • Alexander Samson and Jonathan Thacker (eds.), A Companion to Lope de Vega (London, Tamesis, 2008). 
  • N. D. Shergold, A History of the Spanish Stage from Medieval Times to the end of the Seventeenth Century (Oxford, Clarendon, 1969).
  • Edward Wilson and Duncan Moir, A Literary History of Spain: The Golden Age: Drama 1492 - 1700 (London, Ernest Benn Ltd, 1971).
  • Jonathan Thacker, A Companion to Golden Age Theatre (London, Tamesis, 2007).