The Poetics of Modern Masculinity in Sixteenth-Century Spain
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For many writers, politicians and courtiers in early modern Spain, to raise the topic of poetry was to raise the topic of masculinity. In Spain, the sixteenth century marks a particular threshold – we might consider it the “early” early modern – during which the country’s subjects and perhaps especially its ranks of elites adjusted to a new national identity: Spain under the Habsburgs ceased to be a self-contained peninsular kingdom dominated by Castile and became a seat of a pan-European and incipiently global empire. Surprisingly, perhaps, one aspect of accommodating this shift was accepting a profound revision in the ways in which relationships between masculinity and nation, masculinity and letters, masculinity and poetry, and poetry and identity were conceived of in the social and cultural imagination. A survey of the so-called “new” art composed during this period (poetry based on Italian models and forms, primarily sonnets and songs) demonstrates that writers perceived a fundamental link between poetry and some of the historical, political and social processes that were transforming Spanish codes of gender, power and privilege.