Esther Fernández

Position title: Biruté Ciplijauskaité Postdoctoral Fellowship in Peninsular Spanish Literature and Culture (2023-2024)

Pronouns: She/her

Associate Professor, Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures, Rice University

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A Drama in Transition: The Democratization of Spanish Classical Theater

Spanish early modern theater constitutes a controversial patrimony innately intertwined with the nation’s cultural history. The genre’s social imprint and malleability made it a battleground rife for the interplay of conflicting political agendas, especially before and after the Spanish Civil War. Although Franco relied on its symbols to reinforce National Catholicism, during the transition to democracy (1975-1982), Golden Age theater experienced a bolstered presence in popular culture, which might seem ideologically contradictory at first glance. This book demonstrates how the post-Franco government used this dramatic legacy to foster social cohesion while avoiding a rupture in Spain’s cultural heritage.

Esther Fernández is Associate Professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures at Rice University where she specializes in Iberian literary, visual, and cultural studies. She is the author of Eros en escena: Erotismo en el teatro del Siglo de Oro (2009) and of multiple articles and essay collections focusing on theater and performance practices analyzed through a transhistorical perspective. Her latest monograph, To Embody the Marvelous: The Making of Illusions in Early Modern Spain (2021) has been awarded the 2023 Nancy Staub Publications Award by UNIMA-USA and the 2023 Vern Williamsen Comedia Book Prize by the Association for Hispanic and Classical Theater). The book engages with notions of wonder by examining performance objects in ceremonial, theatrical, and social contexts.