Mina Garcia, associate professor of Spanish in the World Languages and Cultures Department, presented “Metatheatre in Cervantes’ El Trato de Argel” at the 67th annual Colloquium of the Renaissance Society of America.
Mina Garcia, associate professor of Spanish in the World Languages and Cultures Department, presented “Metatheatre in Cervantes’ El Trato de Argel” at the 67th annual Colloquium of the Renaissance Society of America. The conference, held remotely this year, took place over two weeks, from April 13 to 22.
The Renaissance Society of America is the largest international academic society devoted to the study of the era 1300–1700. Founded in 1954, the RSA has thousands of members around the world. Members include a wide variety of scholars interested in Renaissance studies. The Society produces the Renaissance Quarterly Journal and sponsors publications, fellowships, awards to support research. Its annual meeting brings together scholars from North America and around the world, representing a wide variety of academic disciplines.
Garcia’s paper for the conference explores the use of performances within one of Cervantes’ captivity plays. These plays-within-a play have a double function of allowing the playwright to process the trauma of being a former slave and also bringing the predicament of Christian slaves in North Africa to the attention of the audiences in Spanish corrales.
By tracing references to performance in Cervantes’ El trato de Argel (1582), Garcia argued that the use of metatheatre is especially useful as a therapeutic tool, but also as a political tool that is allowed to exhort the authorities in ways that were banned to others. By doubling characters and staging theatrical acts, Cervantes attempts to offer spectators a glimpse into the harsh reality of slavery. This use of metatheatre makes actors within the play aware of their own agency in the social drama of captivity and, to some extent, the theatricality of captivity itself.