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Sara Muñoz / Northeast Modern Languages Association (NeMLA) 2014
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In the politically tumultuous nineteenth century, Spanish literature introduced a variety of public spaces constructed to shelter new political currents, social phenomena and alternative (sub)cultural practices. While there have been a vast number of critical studies that approach the presence of public spaces in the novel, little attention has been paid to the role of theater in this spatial configuration. Indeed, the Spanish nineteenth century is often studied as the “century of the novel,” but as David T. Gies notes in his study on nineteenth-century Spanish theater, more than 10,000 theatrical works were produced in this century, most of which lie outside the canon.

This panel attempts to map out both canonical and especially non-canonical nineteenth-century Spanish plays in spatial terms by focusing on the construction of public spaces. In all its forms –historical and reformist drama, socialist and parodic theater, realist and romantic plays— nineteenth-century theater stages a number of official and non-formalized spaces that, inhabited and traversed by emerging marginal subjectivities, appear in the literary text as a response to new social phenomena and political realities of the period. A number of questions arise from this approach: How does theater interact with political events in their historical context? What is the social function of official places such as hotels, cafes, or arcades, in contrast with unauthorized spaces such as brothels, taverns, and clandestine meeting points? How does drama shelter the desires, fears and demands of popular classes in subversive spaces? What is the relation between theater as a marginal genre and peripheral identities that emerge as political agents of new subcultural practices? We invite submissions that explore representations of public spaces and marginal subjects in Spanish theater of the nineteenth century and their role in supporting, confronting, questioning, and/or condemning the socio-political and historical tensions of this period.

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