Project

Calliope’s Daughters: Women, Epic, and Occasional Poetry in the Early Modern Ibero-American World

Duration
01 October 2020 → Ongoing
Funding
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Comparative literature studies
    • Early modern literature
    • Literatures in Latin
    • Literatures in Portuguese
    • Literatures in Spanish
    • Poetics
Keywords
Women writers epic poetry Ibero-American literature gender studies
 
Project description

Epic poetry has traditionally been considered a male genre, written by and about men. This project seeks to contest this view by drawing attention to a corpus of epic poetry and heroic verse written by women poets in the early modern Ibero-American world. Women writers in the Spanish and Portuguese empires not only wrote fulllength epics but also participated alongside men in ‘poetic jousts’ for which they wrote heroic verse. In some cases, they were even commissioned to write poetry or to collaborate with male writers. This project argues that these texts have tended to be overlooked for two reasons. First, many of these works were written for local festivities and have thus been considered occasional poems rather than epics, despite their heroic features. Unlike traditional epics, these poems often offer second-degree reflections: they recount historical events of transnational significance but do so indirectly by evoking local acts of commemoration. The second reason is that many of these works playfully combine features of different genres, which makes them more difficult to classify. By recuperating the works of these women writers, who come from different regions (Spain, Portugal, the New World) and circumstances (nuns, wives, an ex-slave of Morisco origin), I seek to show the inclusiveness and dynamism of a genre, which was considerably more open than has traditionally been thought.