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Abstract

Comedias judaizantes: Performing Judaism in Lope de Vega’s Toledan Plays (1590-1615) uses philosophical hermeneutics to explore multiple representations of Judaism in Lope de Vega’s Toledan comedias. The study also examines how figures of Judaism interact with other myths shaping Early Modern Spanish national identity, namely the Mozarabic tradition, Spain’s Gothic heritage and Pauline hermeneutics. Inspired by Paul Ricoeur’s methodology of three-fold mimesis, it claims that certain dramas perform Judaism for sixteenth and seventeenth century Toledan audiences by inserting crypto-narrations, which are perceptible only to particular viewers. I also argue that Lope, by inserting these crypto-narrations, prizes Old Christian readings over Jewish ones in certain plays and Jewish ones in others. Furthermore, this dissertation analyzes to what degree we can analyze this Toledan corpus not only as a stepping stone toward the development of the comedia nueva, but also as a Judaizing chronicle which historiographically imitates the structure and the content of the historical forgeries about the history of Toledo being circulated throughout Spain during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A central figure in this movement is the Jesuit priest Jerónimo Román de la Higuera whose Historia ecclesiástica de la imperial ciudad de Toledo (c. 1600) emphasized Toledo’s multi-ethnic roots, promoting the city’s importance in the providential history of Spain. While Higuera’s audience was primarily Toledo’s literary elite of which Lope formed a prominent part, Performing Judaism claims that Lope’s dramatic historiography popularized the myths discussed in these chronicles for the audiences of the corral. To prove these central arguments, Performing Judaism explores the kinds of crypto-narrations present and then how Lope uses these hidden messages to fashion differing and evolving representations of Toledo and of Judaism. Chapter 1 investigates the presence of genealogical crypto-narrations in La comedia de Bamba (1597-1598) and El Postrer Godo de España (1599-1603), depicting Toledo as a foundational city. Chapter 2, which analyzes El Niño Inocente de la Guardia (1598-1608) and El Hamete de Toledo (1606-1612), underlines the importance of iconographic crypto-narrations in fashioning Toledo as a city of tragedy. In Chapter 3, Toledo becomes a city of remembrance in Las paces de los reyes y judía de Toledo and La Hermosa Ester (1610), as the Jewess becomes both a feared and revered figure through a series of Neo-Platonic crypto-narrations. Ultimately, this dissertation presents new approaches to exploring the Jewish question in Early Modern Spanish Literature and the intricate relationships between literature and historiography as genres in sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain.

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