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Drama of a Nation in Crisis: Public Theater and the Effeminized Early Modern Spanish State.

The great paradox of early modern Spain is the coincidence of imperial decline and a "Golden Age" of cultural production. As the visual and literary arts flourished, secular and religious institutions struggled to maintain their authority over a rapidly changing social, religious, economic, and geopolitical landscape. At the end of the 1580s, for instance, the hitherto "invincible" Spanish Armada suffered a humiliating defeat abroad to the British, while in Spain the legalization of female actresses ushered in of one of Europe's earliest and most prolific urban theater industries. The next hundred years witnessed an intense expansion of theatrical activity and attendance, including the establishment of permanent public performance venues that allowed for professional productions during most of the calendar year. At the same time, a religious crisis that inspired the Counter-Reformation and an expanded role for the Inquisition, persistent military failures, and a sustained economic collapse spiraled together into a crisis of national identity. This essay examines how both secular and religious voices implicated the public theater in this crisis while grounding their diagnosis in terms of the precarious condition of the national character's masculinity. (1) Arguments for the prohibition or reform of the professional theater industry deployed the discursive authority of such classical and Church sources as Plato, Aristotle and Augustine, whose shared ambivalence towards the aesthetic experience of art in general and the reception of theatrical spectacle in particular provided an ideological template, discursively grounded in gender, for the regulation of early modern popular theater and its effects on the national audience.

Early modern Spanish opponents of the theater drew upon such authoritative expresses a fear of the theater's "feminizing" effect on Spanish masculinity that would continue to be echoed well beyond the seventeenth-century. Military prowess, industrial production, and moral rigor were all threatened by a climate of cultural decadence, which was punctuated by a popular theater industry that appealed to the baser passions of the masses while flouting the neoclassical precepts that had governed officially sanctioned theatrical practice since the Italian Renaissance. As the mark of theatrical success shifted from official approbation and courtly patronage to mass-consumption by an urban paying public, or from hierarchical prescription to popular reception, so too did control over the aesthetic standards in theater that, since the dissemination of Aristotle's Poetics at the end of the fifteenth century, had been prescribed by the upper echelons of society. The supplanted academic and religious authorities reacted with alarm to the emerging aesthetic preferences of the paying public.

Church officials responded to this emasculation of institutional authority by intensifying their efforts to control public expressions and performances of desire, as well as private and domestic conduct. Beyond the implementation of a comprehensive regime of theatrical censorship, these efforts included repeated calls by moralists for the permanent closure of public theaters in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Popular comedy in particular was decried for its celebration of carnal desire in a way that jeopardized seventeenth-century Spanish codes of masculinity. Its presentation of heterosexual desire was denounced as a public display of vice destined to inspire lust among the viewing public. If promoting the vice of lust was a frequent indictment, the excessive pursuit of carnal desire was in turn an oft-cited consequence of the theatrically contracted "feminization" of the male citizenry: disproportionate desire was seen as a feminine characteristic, as opposed to masculine moderation and self-control. By eliminating theatrical spectacles geared toward inspiring the passions of the theatergoing public, the victims of this "feminizing" influence, opponents of the public theater industry hoped to revive what was perceived as a waning national masculinity.

This discursive strategy draws upon deeply rooted ideological tensions stretching as far back as Plato, whose problematic treatment of literary mimesis in general and theatrical performance in particular would precondition the analytical framework adopted by Aristotle in his Poetics. Aristotle's rediscovery during the Renaissance would in turn bear direct implications on early modern Spanish theatrical practice, but only after his authority was filtered through the interpretive lens of church doctrine, which prescribed an orthodox mode of literary representation and interpretation profoundly influenced by Augustine. His De Doctrina Christiana provided a blueprint for biblical exegesis that would exercise influence over reading and writing, both secular and religious, well into the early modern period. (2)

Augustinian and Aristotelian theory--at least as they were understood in early modern Spain--share a desire to structure and control the emotional potential of literary representation so as to ensure its employment for civically and morally edifying purposes, but they also share a resistance to delimiting and defining the aesthetic pleasure produced by drama to that end. In large measure due to the legacy of these theories, the would-be arbiters of early modern public taste and decorum found the affective power of theatrical spectacle on the audience easier to recognize empirically from within the theater than to define and control from without. The public theater's ability to please the masses was an alarming cultural development for the beleaguered authorities of Spanish Counter-Reformation culture, whose implementation of what Anthony J. Cascardi calls "control mechanisms" (234) such as neoclassical aesthetic standards was meant to regulate desire.

The Classical Antitheatrical Tradition

A key point of origin for this tradition of gender-inflected antitheatrical discourse is the indictment made of theatrical spectacles in Plato's Republic (3) when Socrates discusses the proper role of poets in the education of young men in the ideal Republic. The peripheral status of aesthetic pleasure in the Republic creates room for Socrates' emphasis on civic concerns, but its presence in the margins of his argument reveals his deep suspicion of it, (4) in short because it promotes feminine emotional faculties to the detriment of masculine reason and moderation. The appreciation of poetic beauty does not correspond to the highest faculties of the human mind, as the emotional reaction and behavior it inspires is irrational and "womanly." As this prominent classical view of woman as an imperfect version of man would persist, so too would this distrust of the affective experience of theater, a perceived threat to the morality and future prosperity of the early modern Spanish state. With the waning of that prosperity came the argument that the feminization of Spain was in large part due to the excessive attendance of theatrical spectacles, often referred to as schools of vice. (5)

Plato's concerns regarding the passions are inherited by Aristotle and may help explain his own ambivalent attitude towards the aesthetic experience of drama. While the Poetics would become the blueprint of neoclassical dramatic theory par excellence, its interpretation would be hotly debated in Western Europe well beyond the Renaissance. Indeed the continuous reinterpretation of the Poetics throughout the early modern period, or the shifting of how it was understood according to specific cultural and institutional circumstances, is possible because of this very ambivalence towards aesthetics. His methods of rational analysis and taxonomy, applied to a strikingly wide variety of subjects in the corpus of his extant works, are perhaps least suited to the emotive pleasure derived from art, which Plato had identified with lower, feminine faculties. As with the early modern Spanish moralists, aesthetic achievement is more easily observed empirically than defined theoretically. The theoretical impasse is made explicit by Aristotle as he concludes the anatomy of tragic structure outlined in the Poetics: Euripides violates all of the formal precepts laid out in his treatise, and yet somehow he remains "the most tragic of poets." The exhaustive analysis undertaken in the Poetics cannot account for the emotional effect (specifically of spectacle) that Euripides elicits in superlative fashion while violating the formal model.

Augustine's Ambivalence

The ideological affinity between Platonic and Aristotelian aesthetic ambivalence and the Counter-Reformation culture of control can be further explained by revisiting Augustine of Hippo, a pillar of both the Church's broader anxieties regarding desire and its disdain for the theater's affective arousal of the passions. His distrust of aesthetics predates the Renaissance rediscovery of Aristotle, and in the Confessions it reflects personal experience of its potential for moral harm. As a student who excelled in rhetorical exercises, theatrical performances of the classics were a source of personal vanity for him. The emotional experience of theatrical spectacle is duly noted in the autobiography, if only to be dismissed as a pagan activity impeding the service of God.

The narrative of religious conversion offered in the Confessions involves a renunciation of classical literature, largely on the grounds that its emotional effects upon the reader or listener are morally dangerous. The young Augustine's personal experience with performative oratory may help explain the attitude towards aesthetics in the tradition of biblical exegesis and allegorical interpretation for which he is most directly responsible. In his De Doctrina Christiana, Augustine leads the reader from a discussion of signs and symbols to a methodology of reading scripture. After condemning secular literature on the grounds that it awakens passions that lead the reader/spectator away from Christian love of God or caritas, Augustine faces a rhetorical dilemma in treating scripture: is the affective experience of artistic beauty not important in scripture as well? Can aesthetics perform a positive spiritual function?

Augustine admits in the treatise that aesthetics are a part of the experience of reading scripture, but at several points he refuses to treat the issue. But if Aristotle's theoretical avoidance of aesthetics is a sin of omission, possibly explained by the loss of many parts of his original text, Augustine's resistance to treat the issue is an outright refusal. By limiting his discussion of linguistic representation only to scriptural matters directly related to God, Augustine can conveniently place aesthetics beyond the scope of his discussion. By "removing this division of the subject as superfluous," Augustine can continue to discuss signs and symbols as instruments employed in divine scripture, without having to differentiate their biblical "use" from their classical (and pagan) "abuse." But when he must directly address the nature of metaphor and allegory--what he refers to as "similitudes"--he must at least admit to the role of aesthetic experience in scriptural exegesis. In reference to an ambiguous passage from the biblical Song of Songs in which the Church is described as a woman whose teeth are like a flock of sheep, he has reached the Aristotelian impasse between rational formal theory and the affective practice of literary reception. Admitting that such "similitudes" allow him to contemplate the saints "more pleasantly," he kicks the proverbial can by recognizing his own inability to explain such affect and labeling it "a problem for another discussion."

Like Aristotle, Augustine cannot fail to note the aesthetic power of poetry, for it is that very "sweetness" that is responsible for his own appreciation of scripture. At the same time, though, he cannot focus on it extensively because of its implicit moral danger. His personal experience of secular classical aesthetics as "fornication," due to its propensity to attract him towards earthly desire (cupiditas) and away from love of God (caritas), is indicative of the conflation of aesthetics with humanity's baser passions and desires that would underlie the opinions of the Church's more morally rigorous voices through the Middle Ages and well into early modernity. The Counter-Reformation's cultural and religious anxieties, and the precarious situation of traditional hierarchical social order, would stimulate these voices in their discursive confrontations with the emerging moral threat posed by the public theater.

Thus the fundamental importance of the biblical Word as a catalyst for faith and as an epistemological conduit to virtue is precisely what makes aesthetics such a thorny issue for those who inherited Augustinian doctrine. What if the reader were to derive more pleasure and experience a stronger aesthetic response from Virgil--or from Lope de Vega, for that matter--than from scripture? What if Lope's representations of desire were more appealing than the "similitudes" of the Bible? Such concerns are implicit in the repeated calls for theatrical prohibition in early modern Spain, as they are in the regime of moral censorship that attempted to regulate what was permissible to represent in the early modern public theaters known as corrales. And yet what passed through such institutional filters, in other words, the plays that were allowed to be performed, still was blamed for having "feminized" the nation.

The Early Modern Antitheatrical Polemic, Neoclassical Theory and Masculinity

Turning now to the early modern deployment of these rhetorical arguments for the containment or prohibition of theatrical spectacles, we can see a persistent linkage of such an agenda with the ambiguous treatment of the affective power of poetry and drama through a discourse of gender. As Ignacio Ezquerra Revilla has explained in detail, political and geopolitical developments in the second half of the sixteenth century created the need for a robust and systematic approach to cultural reforms throughout Iberia; the result was what Ezquerra Revilla calls a "politica confesionalizadora" that would paint the need for moral reform at court and in society at large in the starkest possible terms well into the next century, and that would find in the public theater an ideal scapegoat (269).

In 1598, D. Garcia de Loaisa y Giron, Fray Diego de Yepes, and Fray Gaspar de Cordoba advised Phillip II to prohibit public theatrical productions in their collaborative treatise, Consulta o Parecer sobre la prohibicion de las comedias. A number of scholars consider this treatise to be pivotal in establishing key arguments that would be revisited often during the ensuing antitheatrical polemic, including a concern for the state of masculinity in the kingdom. The treatise argues that history is replete with examples of previous empires whose military achievements were later undermined by cultures of theatergoing, effeminate decadence. Classical authoritative voices are invoked to establish the incompatibility between the passions aroused at the theater and the needs of a vigorous, well-ordered state--including Plato, Augustine, and Tertulian, who called theaters "sagrarios de Venus" (Cotarelo y Mori 393). According to the authors, excessive attendance of comedias "se hace la gente de Espana muelle y afeminada e inhabil para las cosas del trabajo y guerra" (Cotarelo y Mori 394).

Later treatises such as Pedro de Guzman's Bienes de el honesto trabajo y danos de la ociosidad (1614) reflect the antitheatrical prejudice that associates Spanish cultural decadence and moral decline with effeminacy. Vehement antitheatrical invectives would continue well beyond the Golden Age: at the end of the eighteenth century, D. Simon Lopez would make such startling antitheatrical assertions as to say that the theater's original performance was Satan's duping of Adam and Eve, and that Lope de Vega had done more moral harm to the world than Luther or Calvin (Cotarelo y Mori 400).

As the moralists' war of antitheatrical words raged on in the seventeenth century, its basic tensions spilled over into secular dramatic theory, which continued to examine the nature and classical orthodoxy of the public theater. Modern scholars have attempted to select from extant documents a coherent narrative of early modern Spanish dramatic theory's evolution (see especially Sanchez y Escribano and Mayo, as well as Rodriguez Sanchez de Leon), but the variety of opinions and agendas informing the ongoing dialogue over the relationship between neoaristotelian dramatic theory and contemporary theatrical practice proves difficult to separate from the moralist critique discussed above. In broad terms we may say that late fifteenth-century and early sixteenth-century Spanish dramatic theory recognized the emergence of deviations from neo-aristotelian precepts but also that the voices of such concerns were drowned out by a more general acceptance of Lope de Vega's new form of popular comedy as unimpeachable for its ability to satisfy the contemporary Spanish paying public. But when the theoretical discussion of theater turns to the effects of popular comedy on this public, even when presumably to argue for a return to classical orthodoxy, the discursive lines between theocentric moralist critique and Aristotelian formalist theory become blurry. One example from Cristobal Suarez de Figueroa illustrates this discursive assimilation:
No se acaban de persuadir estos modernos que, para imitar a los
antiguos, deberian llenar sus escritos de sentencias morales, poniendo
delante los ojos aquel loable intento de ensenar el arte de vivir
sabiamente, como conviene al buen comico... Mas al contrario descubren
los poetas comicos ingenio poco sutil y limitada maestria, siendo
licito a cualquiera elegir el argumento a su gusto, sin regla ni
conocimiento... Resulta deste inconveniente representarse en loa
teatros comedias escandalosas con razonados obscenos y concetos
humildisimos, lleno todo de impropiedad y falto de verosimilitud.
(Rodriguez Sanchez de Leon 46-47)


Suarez de Figueroa diagnoses the same moral problems with the public theater that Church officials would lament from the pulpit, especially the abandonment of moral edification for the sake of applause. Here the implicit assumption is that the formal principles of classical drama are agents of moral didacticism, that verisimilitude and decorum are necessary ingredients (the "rules" and "customs") for a morally edifying theatrical experience. The close relationship between early modern Spain's theocentric-moralist and neoclassical-formalist discourses makes sense in light of their respective textual sources of authority

(holy scripture and Church fathers like Augustine for the moralists, and classical figures like Plato, Aristotle, Tertullian and Horace for the formalists) used to decry the civic and moral state of the public theater.

Indeed much of the so-called "ancients vs. moderns" theoretical debate in early modern Spain consisted of whether or not the principles of Aristotelian theory were the exclusive means by which the public theater could fulfill its social responsibility to offer morally edifying content. While champions of classical tradition (the "ancients") like Suarez de Figueroa would share the opinion of the antitheatrical moralists that the popular theater was civically and ethically corrupt, apologists for the new national theater (the "moderns") would see it as morally instructive, and as necessarily adapted in form to match the circumstances of the society to whom it was directed. A frequent "modern" argument (first made in sixteenth-century Italy by Geraldo Cinthio in the context of epic poetry) adopted by defenders of contemporary Spanish theatrical practice was that the Aristotle of the Poetics did not live to see the formal innovations of early modern literary expression and thus should not be used to assess the validity of new formal literary structures. As Maria Rosa Alvarez Sellers has argued, apologists like Ricardo de Turia presented their arguments with nationalist overtones, as when he argues that the intricate discursive mixture in the comedia espanola is a more praiseworthy artistic achievement than were its classical tragic and comic predecessors.

But if the public theater's secular apologists found in Lope's dramatic innovations something of which the Spanish nation could be proud, concerns of national vitality were still more important for its detractors. Notwithstanding a gradual theoretical acceptance of the comic, tragic, and especially tragicomic theatrical innovations introduced over the course of the seventeenth century, the conservative voices of neoclassical theory were initially appalled at Lope's propensity for mixing elements that in the classical tradition had remained hermetically sealed off from one another. So egregious was the violation of decorum, verisimilitude and generic purity that Francisco Cascales went as far as to call Lopean tragicomedy a hermaphrodite form, a designation with obvious gender implications and that, as Sophia Kluge argues, bore serious moral implications as well: if classical precepts guided a mimesis whose object of imitation was a divinely inspired natural order, Spanish tragicomedy did violence to that natural order by flouting the precepts derived from classical antiquity's keenest and most authoritative observer, Aristotle. His authority was invoked to condemn the hermaphrodite tragicomic hybrid form ("unnaturally" combining male and female, high and low, rational and irrational), in a way that would symbiotically converge with contemporary theocentric cultural anxieties about a male citizenry being "feminized" by the public theater.

While it is true that the neoclassical arguments against popular Spanish comedy and tragicomedy would lose their original rigidity, they would regain their rhetorical force in the eighteenth century with the emergence of the Enlightenment and an increased influence of French dramatic theory in Spanish culture. Throughout the ebb and flow of conservative neoaristotelianism, Spain's theocentric moralists would remain steadfast in their denunciations of the public theater's pernicious and "feminizing" effects on the Spanish people.

The Professional Theater Industry and Cultural Authority

As we have seen, Aristotle's ambivalent attitude toward the affective and emotional power of drama on its audience results in a formal and analytical methodology in his Poetics that eschews the psychology of aesthetics, and this rhetorical strategy would have long-lasting consequences for Western drama. When dramatic theory of the Italian Renaissance, including the work of Francesco Robortello and Geraldi Cinthio, and the subsequent Spanish and French neoclassical theoretical traditions would draw upon the Poetics as the ultimate source of literary authority, they would inherit Aristotle's focus on formal principles and precepts as a mode of dictating proper modes of theatrical representation for a productive and morally grounded state. During the early Renaissance, when courtly theatrical production was dependent on official approbation and street performances were not organized in such a way as to constitute a self-sustaining industry as it would in the Italian commedia dell 'arte and Spanish Comedia, dramatic theory exercised considerable influence over theatrical practice. Later, after the controversy surrounding Corneille's Le Cid, French neoclassical theory would enjoy similar authority and influence. Changing economic conditions in the late sixteenth century in Spain would soon tip the balance of influence over theatrical practice, however, and the demands of the emerging market would supersede those of the economically sterile hierarchy. The end of the prohibition on female actors in 1587 combined with this shift in aesthetic demands would constitute a perfect storm for Lope de Vega, whose innovative urban comedy could represent desire in a way that packed the newly constructed corrales. If, as Thomas O'Connor argues, "love in the corral" coalesced with an emerging early modern subjectivity to affirm individual autonomy, it also afforded the paying public the spectacle of men and women onstage representing male and female desire. For a social order whose upper echelons were shaken by a national crisis of masculinity, this mode of representing desire was an obvious target for censorship.

Lope's Comedia nueva emerged as a popular commodity at the margins of a literary culture characterized by independent academias (the Spanish Real Academia would not be founded until 1713) that actively appropriated Aristotle in their prescriptions and precepts, although their sphere of influence paled in comparison to that of the French academy. One such Spanish institution was the Academia de Madrid, implicitly represented in Lope's Arte nuevo ("Mandanme, vuestras mercedes..."). (6) As Donald Gilbert-Santamaria explains, Lope's discourse in this address reflects his conflicting identities as would-be courtier (as Elizabeth Wright has described thickly) and as architect of market-driven public spectacles. His ambivalent rhetorical submission to this academic and classically literate audience reflects its inherited position of authority, but such authority was precarious in the midst of the national decline that coincided with the emergence of the public theater as a powerful cultural practice.

The culture of decadence that was to blame for Spain's crisis, according to opponents of the theater industry, featured public theatrical spectacles guilty of fomenting a "feminization" of its consumers. Theorists interested in promoting a proper classical ars dramatica, like Cervantes's Canon of Toledo in Don Quijote, were quick to distance themselves from a market-driven public theater that pandered to the lowest aesthetic common denominator (represented in the Quijote by the rogue puppeteer Maese Pedro). The Aristotelian sense of "low" applies here (namely that comedy treats low matters in an appropriately low style), but so too does the Platonic notion of the lower human faculties ("womanly" passions, desire). As antitheatrical moralists would have it, such theatrical spectacles were a stimulus of vice. At the same time, the love intrigues that represented desire in such popular comedies as the capa y espada [cloak and dagger] plays were academically indicted for violating neoclassical precepts. Yet these academic protests were becoming increasingly irrelevant to the professional theater: as Lope off-handedly affirms in the Arte Nuevo, he has written almost five hundred plays that subvert classical authority but have earned him popular acclaim. In seventeenth-century Spain, the waning cultural prestige of Aristotle suggests that the ambivalent treatment of aesthetics in the Poetics was more compatible with the Counter-Reformation's broader ideological movement toward the regulation, prescription, and control of desire than it was with the aesthetic demands of the socioeconomically diverse crowds at the corral.

The seventeenth-century codification and dissemination of Aristotelian dramatic theory, in other words, was an attempt to impose a mechanism of control in Counter-Reformation culture, to the extent that the treatment of aesthetics in its primary classical source allowed its early modern interpreters to prescribe an authoritative form of drama that would mitigate the dangers of desire and the passions. The popular theater's divergence from classical structures of dramatic composition has received ample critical attention (7), but these largely philological efforts have not focused on the ideological nature of this resistance to theory. To do so, we must take into account seventeenth-century neoclassical dramatic theory's existence in the broader elite literary culture of the Baroque, characterized by John R. Beverley as "the aristocratic fetish of a highly wrought art form, which is seen as noble or sublime to the extent that it eludes the comprehension of the masses and situates itself outside the nascent bourgeois value system of money and market exchange as determinants of power and status" (223). Lope de Vega's Arte nuevo is evidence of how isolated Aristotelian "art" was from the aesthetic experience of the vulgo spectator. Tiziana Mazzucato traces this divide between theory and practice to the early Renaissance, and she establishes that it would only begin to be bridged in Italy in the mid-to late-sixteenth century, as the Spanish professional theater industry was gathering its cultural steam. Even though Aristotle's formalist treatise had originally stated its intent as the elucidation of the experience of pity and fear by the spectator of tragedy, its use in early modern academic circumstances embraced the philosopher's formal method rather than his more aesthetically oriented, originally stated purpose. Given the ideological climate of Counter-Reformation Spain, in which desire was a thorny issue to say the least, Aristotle's evasive treatment of aesthetics was expedient and convenient.

The paradox of the Spanish cultural crisis is that the affective power of spectacle was vilified in this way and at the same time tapped as an instrument for ideological dissemination. Notwithstanding the antitheatrical movement led by Church officials, the permissive attitude towards public theater by the monarchy (especially during the reigns of Felipes II and III) is no doubt connected to its own exploitation of theatrical spectacle, through courtly performances often referred to as teatro palaciego that were engineered to project national power and cultural prestige abroad. (8) Beyond the antitheatrical movement, Counter-Reformation culture further recognized public theater's ability to stimulate the masses, and it strove to co-opt its methods for its own purposes. Gwendolyn Barnes-Karol treats the "theatricalization" of Counter-Reformation religious oratory extensively--particularly for its influence on oral sermons, their subsequent publication in Sermonarios, and the instruction manuals that saw sermons as "one of the most effective agents of the Counter-Reformation culture of control" and "useful tools of ideological manipulation" (51). Such manuals as Diego Nasino's Asuntos predicables (Barnes-Karol 1628, cf.) and Juan Rodriguez de Leon's El Predicador de las Gentes San Pablo (Barnes-Karol 1638, cf.) replaced the traditional medieval ars predicandi tradition and urged priests to adopt a Baroque theatrical approach to performing sermons at holy mass. According to Barnes-Karol, the actual performances of sermons embraced all available semiotic resources, especially the visual aides of Baroque imagery, to inspire admiratio more than rational understanding: "In this way, the affective impact of a preacher's words, more than the logic of his discourse, would engulf his listeners in a wave of emotion that would render them incapable of receiving a message critically" (58). The rhetorical strategy, it appears, is to put to the service of the Church the same aesthetic potency that Plato, Augustine, and antitheatrical moralists had condemned, namely its control over the consumer's irrational passions and desires.

If the Protestant Reformation constituted a rebellion against papal authority and its emphasis on institutional mediation between man and God, it also promoted a more private experience of biblical exegesis. Similarly, the popular theater thrived on a mode of consumption that no longer bowed to the prescriptions of neoclassical authority, whose ideological affinities with Counter-Reformation culture converges in their collective discomfort with aesthetics and desire. The promotion of moderation and control of desire is rhetorically achieved through the glossing of scripture in such authoritative voices as Fray Luis de Leon (La perfecta casada) and Juan Luis Vives (Doctrina de la instruccion de la mujer cristiana)--not to mention those moralists like Pedro de Guzman and the authors of the 1587 Consulta, who decried the feminizing influence of the early modern Spanish public theater. While the Church would attempt to co-opt the emotional potential of theatrical spectacle from the pulpit, neither the theater's moral opponents nor the literary academies whose theory it resisted and confounded were able to contain that potential once it was engaged to service the demands of a paying public. The drama of this nation in crisis, then, is inextricably embedded in the crisis itself.

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Vega, Maria Jose. "El arte de la comedia en la teoria literaria del Renacimiento." Maria Jose Vega, ed. 2004. Poetica y teatro: La teoria dramatica del Renacimiento a la Posmodernidad. Pontevedra, Spain: Mirabel, 2004. 47-97.

Vince, Ronald. "The Aristotelian Theatrical Paradigm as Cultural-historical Construct (Towards Theatrical Communication)." Theatre Research International 22.1 (1997): 38-48.

Wright, Elizabeth. Pilgrimage to Patronage: Lope de Vega and the Court of Philip III, 1598-1621. Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 2001.

Robert Bayliss

University of Kansas

(1) The anxiety surrounding early modern Spanish masculinity has been examined recently, although without focusing on the public theater's role as the object of blame for the crisis, by Elizabeth Lehfeldt. Jose R. Cartagena-Calderon's Masculinidades en obras: el drama de la hombria en la Espana imperial reads a number of plays from the period as a function of this anxiety.

(2) E. Michael Gerli's study of the impact of the De Doctrina Christiana on the Libro de buen amor (1330) establishes this influence on late medieval Spanish writers in detail.

(3) The observations made here regarding the Republic are not meant to comprehensively represent Plato's attitudes towards poetry, which are complex and often contradictory. While the Ion and the Phaedrus praise the poet's ability to transcend human existence and connect with divine beauty, the focus of the Republic is the appropriate role of poets in the educational foundation provided to young citizens of the ideal State. In the context of the present study, it is less important to revisit Plato than to recognize those aspects of his writings that would influence early modern judgments of theater and its effects on civil society.

(4) Elsewhere, Plato does not deny the powerful aesthetic effect of poetry (especially dramatic poetry) upon its audience: outside the civic context of the Republic (as in the Symposium, the Ion, and the Phaedrus), Plato would develop a view of desire and the love of beauty as forces leading the soul upward toward a more profound appreciation of the ideal, and he would recognize poetry's ability to foster these faculties.

(5) Emilio Cotarelo y Mori's Bibliografia remains a rich resource for the documentation of such anti-theatrical attitudes and arguments.

(6) Burningham and Friedman offer insightful depictions of Lope's rhetorical posture in the Arte Nuevo.

(7) Recent treatments of the the early modern Spanish public theater's thorny relationship with neoclassical precepts include Ignacio Arrellano, Jesus Maestro, and Maria Jose Vega. A useful analysis of the Arte nuevo in light of this issue is Bruce Birmingham's "The Barbarians at the Gates."

(8) Maravall's scholarship predates much of the recent critical interest in such court spectacles and in the antitheatrical polemic, but it is important for its suggestion that the early modern Spanish public theater also served the hegemony.
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Title Annotation:ENSAYOS; Texto en ingles
Author:Bayliss, Robert
Publication:GESTOS: Revista de teoria y practica del teatro hispanicos (Spanish)
Article Type:Ensayo
Date:Apr 1, 2015
Words:6110
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