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SAN HERMENEGILDO AS A TROPE OF RHETORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION IN SPAIN, ITALY, AND MEXICO (1590-1690)

by Muneroni, Stefano

Abstract (Summary)
SAN HERMENEGILDO AS A TROPE OF RHETORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION IN SPAIN, ITALY, AND MEXICO (1590-1690) Stefano Muneroni University of Pittsburgh, 2008 During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, San Hermenegildo, a Christian martyr who died in 585, became a recurrent presence on theatre stages in Europe and the Americas. Tragedies inspired by his death began to surface due to the efforts of the Society of Jesus, the religious order that used him to embody its theological and rhetorical agendas. This dissertation investigates the figure of San Hermenegildo as a stage character in the period comprised between 1590 and 1690. Specifically, it looks at five tragedies, two Spanish, two Italian, and one Mexican, to demonstrate how the treatment of the martyr varied widely according to geo-political and rhetorical necessities. The subtle balance between the evident consistency of the Hermenegildo theatrical trope and the many differences traceable in the individual plays illuminates the powerful ideologies and the propagandistic objectives that Jesuit theatre came to embody during the Baroque era, as well as the struggle for power happening within and without the Society of Jesus. This study also examines how two non-Jesuit playwrights, Lope de Vega and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, challenged the tropological attributes with which the Society of Jesus had charged the saint; the first by focusing on pleasing the audience of the public theatre, the second by reinterpreting the story of Hermenegildo according to her subaltern position as Mexican creole and as a woman. The most relevant implication of this dissertation is that of having demonstrated the tropological significance attached to saints and martyrs as stage characters during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the layered and rich connections existing between drama and religious and political discourses. This is a particularly relevant finding especially in light of the fact that American academia has largely neglected to probe the religious theatre of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and much more needs to be accomplished in this field. Given the interdisciplinary scope of the research, the dissertation employs many languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, and Latin, and major theoretical models such as colonial and post-colonial studies, history of ideas, rhetorical studies, and theatre and performance studies.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Lynne Conner; Francesca Savoia; Bruce McConachie; Attilio Favorini

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:theater arts

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/28/2009

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