Spanish Plots, Plotting Spaniards

29 Mar

Barbara Fuchs

Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2011 – 3:30 PM

Communications 202

With its vision of Spanish ambition and Jesuit conspiracy, Thomas Middleton’s A Game at Chess (1624) is the most notorious anti-Spanish play of Jacobean England, giving literary life to political cliché. Yet despite the loud denunciations of plotting Spaniards both in this play and in the abundant pamphlet literature on which Middleton drew, English dramatists remained fascinated by Spanish plots. Middleton’s own The Spanish Gypsy, of just a year before, takes up multiple plots from Cervantes, creating a colorful Spain characterized as much by its carnivalesque gypsies as by its corrupt aristocrats. By juxtaposing a series of intricately plotted plays with Spanish sources to A Game at Chess, this talk shows how productive Spain proved for the English stage, despite the frequent portrayal of Spaniards as plotters and Machiavellians.

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