Pet Culture in Early Modern Spain: Feline Narratives of Life and Death
Cultural Studies and Language Series - Fall 2023
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC | This presentation explores a disregarded facet of early modern Spanish pet culture. Although there exists abundant research about dogs, the complexity of domestic felines’ place in the early modern mentality is not fully explored as cats were quite controversial. Working on diverse texts from early modern Spanish literature, I aim to cast light upon the transition of the cat from a utilitarian item for house-keeping purposes (such as by hunting mice) to a companion animal. This transition brought dignity to the domestic feline and creates a discussion about ethics in relation to animals. These texts negotiate with this literary tradition and new aesthetic trends while also reflecting on cultural attitude towards animals. This attitude involves a set of values, as the portrayal of the domestic feline implies a gendered gaze, religious practices, and social status.
Fernando Rodríguez Mansilla is Professor of Early Modern Hispanic literature at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York. His areas of research include Cervantes, the picaresque novel, the Baroque novella, and satirical poetry, among others. He has published Picaresca femenina de Alonso de Castillo Solórzano (2012), El Inca Garcilaso en su Siglo de Oro (2019), and En los márgenes del Siglo de Oro. Vidasimaginarias de los siglos XVI y XVII (2020). Since 2022, he is the editor of Calíope. Journal of the Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry. He is an associate member of GRISO (Grupo de Investigación Siglo de Oro) at the Universidad de Navarra, Spain, and PEI (Proyecto Estudios Indios) at the Universidad del Pacífico, Peru.