Harrison Meadows deposited Wild Theater: Staging the Margins of Ideology in the Spanish Comedia on MLA Commons 5 years, 11 months ago
The theatrical production of Baroque Iberia exhibits an obsession with wildness that remains to be fully explored. By the time Segismundo takes the stage dressed in animal pelts in Calderón’s La vida es sueño, the wild figure had already enjoyed a long history on the Spanish stage, first appearing in Lope de Vega’s El nacimiento de Ursón y Valentín in 1588. Enduring popularity until Bances Candamo’s 1693 comedia, La piedra filosofal, this steady preoccupation with the concept of wildness offers unique insights on the evolving landscape of Baroque ideologies over time, which are rarely considered diachronically. Dramatic representations of wildness signify the transgression of a prescribed norm––be it social, political, racial, or otherwise––which leads to its necessary elimination to resolve the conflict of a given play. In this paper, I will plot the trajectory of dramatic conventions in their diminishing ability to resolve the recurring problem of wildness, thus offering a literary history of the comedia’s social efficacy as it struggled to sustain the weight of its own ideological commitments. Furthermore, I will examine the implications of my approach on long-standing debates on the ideological function of Baroque Iberian drama by analyzing the theoretical problem inherent in the existence of the marginal terrain wildness inhabits. My approach considers who stands to benefit from social order, and those who, like the wild figure, find themselves excluded. At a time of renewed energy for exclusionary ideologies, aspirations of encompassing the marginalized are as important today as they were in 1588.