Spanish and Portuguese | Topics in Spanish Medieval Literature
S618 | 26478 | O. Impey

Professor Olga Impey

S618 Topics in Spanish Medieval Literature

Topic: “The Triumph of the Ladies: On the Defense of Women in
Fifteenth-Century Castile”

MR 4:00pm – 6:30pm/section# 26478/3cr./Location TBA
2nd 8 weeks only

This course will explore the participation of women in the making of
history and culture in the Iberian area, during a time characterized
by Huizinga as “the autumn of the Middle Ages” and by María Rosa
Lida de Malkiel as “pre-Renaissance.” Special attention will be
given in the introductory segment of the course to the impact that
queens (such as María of Castile, María of Aragon, Isabel of
Portugal and Isabel, the Catholic Queen), women writers (Leonor de
Córdoba, Teresa de Cartagena, Isabel Villena, etc.), and fictional
literary figures (Laureola, Gradissa, etc.) had in offsetting the
misogynist tradition cultivated by Boccaccio, Alfonso Martínez de
Toledo, Jaume Roig, etc.

The central point of class discussion on the defense of women will
be Juan Rodríguez del Padrón’s work, "Triunfo de las donas" (cca.
1440). After placing this work within the historical context that
produced it, we will proceed to:

1.	Examine the text and, for a better understanding of its
meaning, translate it into English;
2.	Bring out by comparison Rodríguez del Padrón´s undertaking
to refute the defamation of women disseminated by Boccaccio in "Il
corbaccio" and by Martínez de Toledo in the "Arcipreste de
3.	Trace the possible connection of the "Triunfo" with
Christine de Pizan’s "The Book of the City of Ladies";
4.	Explore the series of "defensas de mujeres" that
the "Triunfo" engendered in the literary works of Alvaro de Luna,
Diego de Valera, Diego de San Pedro, Juan de Flores, etc.;
5.	Establish the relationship between the arguments presented
in these "defensas" and the new ideology of “resisting female,”
reader and ruler, that emerged in Castile towards the end of the

The theoretical and critical framework of class discussions will be
based on studies by Iris Zavala, M. E. Lacarra, R. Cantavella, B.
Weissberger, L. Irigaray, J. Butler, Abigail Bray, G. Duby and
Michelle Perrot.

The course will be conducted in Spanish. Students will be evaluated
on the basis of their participation in class discussions, of a
critical study presented in class, and on a research paper related
to the class topic.