My current research focuses on the use of festival culture and book publication and circulation for the institutional advancement of academia. My book, tentatively titled Academic Festival Books and the Rise of Institutional Power in Early Modern Spain and Spanish America, analyzes the role of Spanish universities in shaping cultural practices through the strategic funding of festivals and celebrations endorsing the Hapsburg monarchy and the Catholic Church, the most important early modern institutions. I study how academic organizations become influential societal actors by organizing, financing, and staging lavish, multi-day celebrations in honor of the marriage of a monarch or the canonization of a new saint. I am intrigued by the reasons that motivated universities to use performance and publications to enhance their power and clout in a society of shifting alliances. I analyze how the publication of the festival book, an event that generally occurred after the execution of any major festivity, was the most important step in perpetuating institutional efforts via the text’s circulation within the Spanish empire and its colonies. My working hypothesis is that Spanish universities used academic celebrations and publications to practice effective political lobbying with the church and state.
My project analyzes seventeenth-century festival books (relaciones de fiestas), non-canonical, interdisciplinary texts commissioned and published by Spanish and Spanish-American academic institutions. Festival books, a literary genre that gained popularity in 16th and 17th century Europe, were texts that collected, described, and preserved the details involved in organizing and bringing to fruition public celebrations. These seldom-studied and often overlooked texts are extremely important as they are our only window into an ephemeral and elusive past, helping readers, then and now, to recreate, imagine, and map out events of cultural, political, and religious importance for the academic institutions that commissioned them. Close reading of these descriptive texts reveals the types of activities that were integral to festival culture, such as masses, speeches, poetry contests, jousting matches, bullfights, and firework displays. More importantly, these books provide a wealth of details not limited to the names of participants, the statues and paintings adorning temporary altars, the musical instruments used in the processions, and the types of clothing used by the participants. There texts share with us invaluable evidence of the artistic, religious, and political elements of ephemeral college festivities, the various uses of urban public space in staging academic feasts, and the propagandistic role of festival books. However, I also understand that festival books must be considered not only for their content but also for their role as artifacts fostering a language of competition between institutions and patrons, and by means of their sale, purchase, envoy, and collection in libraries. Thus, my study examines as well the act of commissioning, publishing, editing, and distributing of festival books to reveal how these objects functioned as “cultural currency” for the sponsoring institution. Questions that guide my research are: What is the role and involvement of universities in publishing festival books as compared to other type of publications? What are the geographical patterns revealed in the publication and distribution of books? What are the social networks of early modern printing and who are the more important authors and editors in Spain and its Spanish American colonies controlling the distribution of academic festival books? In what ways can we map and visualize patterns revealed through my analysis?
The Comedia of Virginity: Mary and the Politics of Seventeenth-Century Spanish Theater. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2012.
“Fomentando la identidad institucional dominicana en tres relaciones de fiestas para la beatificación de Santa Rosa de Lima.” In Viajes y ciudades míticas Alvaro Bararbar and Martina Vinatea Eds. Pamplona, Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad deNavarra, 2015. Colección BIADIG, 31/Publicaciones Digitales del GRISO
“Buscando la procesión: polarización y controversia en mapas inspirados por una relación de fiestas de la Universidad de Salamanca (1618)” In Teatro y fiesta popular y religiosa Mariela Insúa and Martina Vinatea Eds. Pamplona, Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra, 2013. Colección BIADIG (Biblioteca Áurea Digital), 20 / Publicaciones Digitales del GRISO
“Teaching Mesoamerican Indigenous Codices: Early Modern Visual Culture in the Liberal Arts Language Classroom” Journal of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages ADFL. 43.2 (2015).
“From the Street to the Stage: Performing Faith in the Virgin’s Immaculacy at the University of Salamanca” Bulletin of the Comediantes. 64.1(2012).
“In the Gilded Cage: Chocolate and Widowhood in Calderón de la Barca’s El pésame de laviuda”GESTOS: Revista de teoría y práctica del teatro hispánico. 26.5. (2011): 57-92.
Caba, María Y. Isabel la Católica en la producción teatral española del siglo XVII.Calíope: Journal of the Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry. Vol.16 No.2 (2010):159.