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Seventeenth-century Spain witnessed a rich flowering of dramatic activity that paralleled the Renaissance stage in other European countries. Yet this Golden Age traditionally has been represented in print almost entirely by male playwrights. With Women's Acts, Teresa Scott Soufas makes available eight plays by five long-neglected women dramatists: Angela de Azevedo, Ana Caro Mallen de Soto, Leonor de la Cueva y Silva, Feliciana Enriquez de Guzman, and Marla de Zayas y Sotomayor.

In an age when moralists denounced women's participation in the public arena, these women transgressed traditional gender ideology by creating works for the secular stage. Female characters in their plays portray the contradictions in their society's expectations for women. Ranging from an empress whose unmarried state distresses her subjects, to a woman who adopts male behavior patterns in courtship, and another who must dress like a man in order to be heard in court, female characters show how difficult it was for women to find fulfillment during a time when their opportunities were limited.

In her introduction, Soufas reviews the development of sixteenth- and seventeenth- century Spanish drama while focusing on the position of women during this period, the significance of these plays, and the issues the playwrights address. Each dramatist's section opens with an overview of the author's life and professional activity, a synopsis of her work(s), and a selected bibliography.

In a modernized edition that is consistent, readable, and suitable for use by both students and scholars, the plays in Women's Acts will at last earn their rightful place in the canon of Renaissance drama.

Teresa Scott Soufas is professor of Spanish and chair of the department of Spanish and Portuguese at Tulane University.

"Themes of love, arranged marriages and ill-fated love affairs—all written from the point of view of the woman involved—are explored, portraying how difficult it was for women to find fulfillment at a time when their opportunities were severely limited."—British Bulletin of Publications

"(Soufas) is a sure guide: her texts are authoritative, her glossary useful and her endnotes clear, pertinent and mostly consistent and her bibliographies are consistently excellent. The volume is thoroughly recommended."—Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

"A nuanced image of how talented women of Golden Age Spain might reshape the most popular cultural artifact of their era, the comedia, to make it communicate their personal views of gender and power relationships."—Caliope

"As Soufas has successfully demonstrated with Women's Acts, our task in Golden Age studies is not only to excavate and examine these hidden treasures but to make them available to both students and scholars."—Revista de Estudios Hispanicos

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Spanish drama, Spanish women authors, Golden Age drama


Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory

Women's Acts: Plays by Women Dramatists of Spain’s Golden Age
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