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Science, Instrumentality, and Chaotics in Early Modern Spanish Drama

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author analyzes early modern Spanish drama in the context of the epistemological changes facing Europe at the turn of the 17th century known today as the Scientific Revolution. He presents the comedia as a performative genre that responds to emerging scientific discourse and reflects Spanish society's attempt to assimilate new ideas that are simultaneously forward-looking and threatening to existing ways of thinking. The author also discusses the potential richness of contemporary theoretical approaches, such as chaos theory, in the analysis of structural and thematic aspects of the comedia that articulate the instability and uncertainty of the period. In order to illustrate these concepts, he focuses on two plays by Pedro Calderón de la Barca: La vida es sueño and El médico de su honra, which are notable for their dramatization of social and political instability and their implicit/explicit reference to scientific debates.

Keywords: early modern Spanish drama; El médico de su honra; La vida es sueño; Pedro Calderón de la Barca; scientific debates

10.1163/9789004263017_018
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