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Love in the «Corral»

Conjugal Spirituality and Anti-Theatrical Polemic in Early Modern Spain

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Thomas A. O'Connor

Spanish drama provoked a serious and ongoing debate on the moral character and cultural value of such a popular form of entertainment among elites of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. At the heart of the polemic over theatrical licitness are repeated references to Christian theological tradition, which systematically exalted virginity and celibacy while attempting to justify matrimony and conjugal love. However, the presence of women on stage and in the audience served as a catalyst for a larger debate on the role women were to play in public and private discourse. This study reviews in detail the discursive history of the licitness issue and examines how specific dramatic texts both reflect and react to the many concerns raised.