A Poetry of Things: The Material Lyric in Habsburg Spain
Published: January 2022© 2022
192 Pages, 6.20 x 9.30 x 0.80 in, 22 halftones
A Poetry of Things examines the works of four poets whose use of visual and material culture contributed to the remarkable artistic and literary production during the reign of Philip III (1598–1621). Francisco de Quevedo, Luis de Góngora, Juan de Arguijo, and Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza cast cultural objects – ranging from books and tombstones to urban ruins, sculptures, and portraits – as participants in lively interactions with their readers and viewers across time and space.
Mary E. Barnard argues that in their dialogic performance, these objects serve as sites of inquiry for exploring contemporary political, social, and religious issues, such as the preservation of humanist learning in an age of print, the collapse of empires and the rebirth of the city, and the visual culture of the Counter-Reformation. Her inspired readings explain how the performance of cultural objects, whether they remain in situ or are displayed in a library, museum, or convent, is the most compelling.
List of Illustrations
1. Objects as Mediators
2. Material Rome
3. Producing Pastoral Spaces
4. Staging Myth
5. A Mystic and Her Objects
"Drawing on an intimate knowledge of early modern poetry and the visual arts, Barnard reveals the networks that connect word and image in the Spanish Baroque. With clarity and precision, she illuminates the staggering range of Classical and Renaissance cultural artifacts in of dialogue with selected works by two well-known poets connected with the court: Luis de Góngora and Francisco de Quevedo, and two who deserve more attention: the Sevillian Juan de Arguijo and Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza, a mystical Catholic poet in England. Barnard's discussion of Arguijo's mythological decoration for his academia's meeting room is a tour de force of ekphrastic analysis. Against a historical background of poems, paintings, sculpture, architecture, Barnard engages concepts of time, interiority and exteriority, voice and body, nature and art, violence, religious devotion, and eroticism. More than recreating the ideal seventeenth-century readers’ imaginative background for reading these poems, Barnard redefines the concept of material culture for early modern studies."Emilie L. Bergmann, Professor of Spanish Emerita, University of California, Berkeley
"In this new book, Mary E. Barnard makes a strong case for how four poets of the Spanish baroque – Francisco de Quevedo, Luis de Góngora, Juan de Arguijo, and Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza – drew ineluctably from the culture of display and the sheer profusion of secular and religious paintings, sculptures, and other luxury objects that art historians have identified with the reign of Philip III. Throughout the book, Barnard invites us to pause and look closely at the objects and material metaphors inscribed in the texts she studies, crafting a compelling argument rendered in often arrestingly beautiful prose."Laura R. Bass, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and History of Art and Architecture, Brown University