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Renaissance Europe was the scene of flourishing and innovative dramatic art, and seventeenth-century Spain enjoyed its own Golden Age of the stage. According to traditional studies of this period, however, men seemed to be the only participants. Now in Dramas of Distinction, Teresa Scott Soufas offers the first book-length critical study of five important women playwrights: Angela de Azevedo, Ana Caro Mallen de Soto, Leonor de la Cueva y Silva, Feliciana Enriquez de Guzman, and Marfa de Zayas y Sotomayor.

By locating the plays within their period, Soufas avoids universalizing women without regard to history. Her approach transcends the simple measurement of women authors against male models. Confronting the issue of female silence demanded by seventeenth-century Spanish patriarchy, Soufas compares the drive to limit and contain theater space to Renaissance society's efforts to limit and contain women. Yet these dramatists still found ways to question their own roles and male authority. Caro and Cueva investigate the difficult relationship between women and monarchy. Azevedo explores the ways Renaissance women become commodities in the marriage market. Cross-dressed women characters add carnivalesque implications to three plays in which gender identities are unstable. Finally, Enrfquez challenges the precepts of Lope de Vega's comedia nueva as she attempts to adhere to classical formal principles and reject the public playhouse.

As a companion to the recently published anthology Women's Acts, also edited by Soufas, this study significantly contributes not only to Hispanic studies but also to women's studies, Renaissance studies, and comparative literature.

Teresa Scott Soufas is professor of Spanish and acting dean of the faculty of liberal arts and sciences at Tulane University.

"This fine book will influence the study of the comedia and Golden Age culture in this country."—Arizona Journal of Hispanic Culture Studies

"This unique critical study concentrates on a selection of plays by five female playwrights of the Spanish Golden Age."—British Bulletin of Publications on Latin America, The Caribbean, Portugal and S

"This is a text which teems with new lines of enquiry."—Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

"Soufas affords us a surprising new perspective on the literary life of Golden Age Spain."—Calliope

"Soufas provides a great deal of information and engaging textual readings, and she invites her audience to explore important neglected perspectives."—Choice

"Soufas has succeeded in providing a comprehensive theoretical approach to women writers of drama. Her exemplary study changes the critical landscape of Early Modern dramatic works by focusing on female discursive practice in its historical context. She has set the standard for a productive, innovative approach to drama that challenges the male canon and grants women the literary stature they have waited almost four hundred years to attain."—Revista de Estudios Hispanicos

"In this groundbreaking study, Soufas has written the first book-length examination of five of those women playwrights: Angela de Acevedo, Ana Caro Mallen de Soto, Leonor de la Cueva y Silva, Feliciana Enriquez de Guzman, and Maria de Zayas y Sotomayor."—South Atlantic Review

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Spanish drama, Golden Age drama, Golden Age Spain, Women playwrights


Spanish Literature

Dramas of Distinction: Plays by Golden Age Women
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