University of Notre Dame

The Rogue, the Go-Between, and the Saint: Religion and Literature in Medieval and Early Modern Spain

Course Number: LLRO 13186 – 1
Instructor: Emmanuel Ramirez-Nieves

From the tongue-in-cheek confession of the rogue Lázaro in the anonymous sixteenth-century Spanish novel Lazarillo de Tormes through the blurry boundaries between different faiths exploited by the go-between Trotaconventos in Juan Ruiz’s The Book of Good Love, and the pious know-how shown in the accounts of Saint Teresa of Ávila’s The Book of the Foundations, the rogue, the go-between and the saint invite us to evaluate moral questions in all their rich complexity. In this seminar we will explore the intersections between religion and literature by examining the diverse implications of medieval and early modern Spanish literary texts and genres, such as the picaresque novel, mystical poetry and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quijote de la Mancha. Some of the questions that we will raise include: why did medieval and early modern writers use literature to look at important spiritual and theological questions? Are the sacred and the profane mutually exclusive in medieval and early modern Spanish literature? What can we learn as modern readers from the intersections of spiritual and literary concerns in premodern Spanish texts? All readings are in English.