'Disabled Bodies in Early Modern Spanish Literature: Prostitutes, Aging Women and Saints provides a politically urgent critical approach to disability and female corporeality in early modern Spanish literary and social discourse. Rigorous in its historical contextualization and offering innovative, compelling readings of classic works, this book challenges familiar interpretations of women’s bodies in texts of this period, transforming prior disciplinary boundaries and categories of analysis.'
Professor Susan Antebi, University of Toronto
'Blending historical context and literary text with disability studies method, Encarnación Juárez-Almendros sets out to challenge the foundations of early modern scholarship through a long-awaited critical feminist examination of disability as both a social construction and an embodied material experience.'
Benjamin Fraser, Professor and Chair, Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences, East Carolina University
An Open Access edition of this book is available on the Liverpool University Press website and through Knowledge Unlatched.
Disabled Bodies in Early Modern Spanish Literature: Prostitutes, Aging Women and Saints examines the concepts and role of women in selected Spanish discourses and literary texts from the late fifteenth to seventeenth centuries from the perspective of feminist disability theories. This study explores a wide range of Spanish medical, regulatory and moral discourses, illustrating how such texts inherit, reproduce and propagate an amalgam of Western traditional concepts of female embodiment. It goes on to examine concrete representations of deviant female characters, focusing on the figures of syphilitic prostitutes and physically decayed aged women in literary texts such as Celestina, Lozana andaluza and selected works by Cervantes and Quevedo. Finally, an analysis of the personal testimony of Teresa de Avila, a nun suffering neurological disorders, complements the discussion of early modern women’s disability. By expanding the meanings of contemporary theories of materiality and the social construction of disability, the book concludes that paradoxically, femininity, bodily afflictions, and mental instability characterized the new literary heroes at the very time Spain was at the apex of its imperial power. Ultimately, as this study shows, the broken female bodies of pre-industrial Spanish literature reveal the cracks in the foundational principles of power and established truths.
‘Juárez-Almendros’s work demonstrates the usefulness of the lens of feminist disability theory as a new way to examine the premodern perception of women. She calls upon an excellent range of historical, sociological, and literary sources to frame and bolster her argument…this work is a welcome addition to studies on early modern Spanish culture.’
Kristy Wilson Bowers, H-Disability
‘Throughout this book, Juárez-Almendros controls an impressive amount of medical knowledge from the period. This is evident not just in the chapters themselves but in the numerous discursive endnotes, which often add textual material to support points she is making and carry the discussion forward. All of the literary texts she discusses are canonical and so have been written about extensively and from different critical viewpoints, which is something her bibliography reflects. Finally, the introduction contains a brief and accessible discussion of disability studies as a discipline with references to some of the most important scholars and works in the field.’
Madeline Sutherland-Meier, Bulletin of the Comediantes
Reviews‘The book is an excellent example of how to apply concepts created for the study of the present to the past. It is a well-documented and written in a concise style that uses only the necessary words to express complex ideas.’
Enrique Fernandez, Romance Quarterly