Dissertation Defense of Yoel Castillo Botello

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The Department of Spanish and Portuguese cordially invites you to attend the dissertation defense of Yoel Castillo Botello, M.S. titled Hacia una poética del performance cancioneril: culturas del libro de la España Trastámara a la Imperial [Towards a Poetics of Cancionero Performance: From Trastamaran to Imperial Spain]

Thesis Advisor: Emily C. Francomano, Ph.D.

Committee Member: Barbara Mujica, Ph.D.

Committee Member: Albert Lloret, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Abstract: In my dissertation, I examine textual performance in the Spanish cancionero (songbook), a type of literary compilation that became an instrument for image projection, social commentary, and humanist exchange in lettered Iberian courts. During the 15th and the 16th centuries, Spanish authors, editors, printers, and readers engaged in a continuum of performative practices that redefined notions of literature and literary aesthetics, authoritative agency, and the book. I study a selection of Castilian cancionero manuscripts and printed books and texts that illustrate, more saliently, the rise of vernacular languages, cross-cultural exchange, and the shifting genres that propelled Spain into modernity. From the Cancionero de Baena (c. 1426-1430) (Ms. 37, BnF) to the Cancionero general by Hernando del Castillo, printed for the first time in Valencia in 1511, these collections are representatives of the social anxieties and cultural negotiations that occur in the Iberian peninsula as new literary tastes, technologies of the written word, and socio-political discourses converge. Due to their composite make-up, these anthologies are an archival treasure from which to learn about the history of reading in the Iberian Peninsula.

The advent of print in Spain during the late 15th century, did not limit transmission of handwritten materials. For nearly two centuries, manuscripts and printed books circulated hand by hand, often text-borrowing and imitating each other’s physical and organizational features. Contemporary material culture scholars have confronted the heterogeneity of pre-modern books with a mix of enthusiasm and perplexity. As the appearance of books became more malleable and ever-wider networks of trade emerged, reading -both individually and communally- became more complex: Who interacted with and read which types of books, and to what purposes? Why did handwritten materials continue to be so popular and in which scenarios? What can we learn about current literary activities by scrutinizing book hermeneutics at the dawn of modernity? In today’s scholarly realities, while technology continues to alter reading and intellectual exchange, are there limits to what we call the book? Taking the instability and variability of texts and their material support as my point of departure. I argue that Cancionero performance lies in the negotiations of old and new modes, agents, and limits of textual representation.