Hispanic Baroque

Prof. Ruth Hill

Department of Spanish, Italian and PortugueseUniversity of Virginia

115 Wilson Hall PO Box 400777
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 924-7159 | (434) 924-7160 (fax) | e-mail

I am currently exploring the interface of science and hierarchy in the Spanish world during the baroque and late baroque periods. Though not instantly legible as such, alchemy, animal husbandry, herbal medicine, astrology, and physiognomy were interrelated, hegemonic discourses that could appear under their own names or under sundry rubrics: books of secrets, almanacs, books of problems or questions, encyclopedias, and so on. This variegated scientific literature enjoyed a robust circulation, but its importance to the development of the Spanish New World society of castes, caste painting, caste poetry, and caste theater has been overlooked. At the same time, I wish to examine the ways in which English-language critical race theory (CRT) might provide a conceptual and methodological framework for analyzing social hierarchy and conflict during this period.  Such an examination should also reveal CRT’s limitations and the modifications that we need to make when we approach identity issues during the Hispanic early modern with critical tools developed in modern and postmodern Anglo contexts.