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Dr. María J. Ortega Máñez (ES)

Comedia, or, Theater as Such. Language, Figures and Meanings of Spanish Golden Age Comedy


The Spanish Golden Age Comedia was a brilliant moment in the History of Theatre, some of whose innovations still survive in our understanding of theatre today. It can be considered radical in a double sense: on the one hand, because it constitutes the root of the modern conception of the theatrical spectacle; on the other hand, with respect to the classical tradition and other national theatres, because of the new dramatic formula coined by Lope de Vega and its consequences, the Golden Age Comedia represents an artistic and social revolution.


We will look at the effervescent baroque theatrical life, its places, practices, structures, to examine its language, figures and some of its meanings. We will pay particular attention to one of its emblematic comic figures: the gracioso. This character, much loved by the popular audiences, is present in all genres. We will discuss the reasons for this particular characters’ denomination and transversality. 


In this theatrical system, every play is called a comedia, the genre then being typified by an adjective. Why is this so? Why, at least in terminology, does tragedy seem not to exist in this context? There are dramaturgical reasons, but also ideological reasons concerning the societal and religious context of the time. What then is the deep meaning of comedia?


Dr. María J. Ortega Máñez is a postdoctoral researcher and translator. She obtained a Master of Philosophy and a PhD in Comparative Literature from Paris-Sorbonne University and held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Vienna and at KU Leuven. Her research is mainly focused on the relationship between philosophy and theatre, which she has been analysing through fields of study such as theories of literature, aesthetics, ancient Greek studies, baroque Spanish theatre and Spanish 20th-century philosophy.

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