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Human rights and Spain's Golden Age theatre: national history, empire, and global trade in Tirso De Molina's El Burlador De Sevilla

This essay argues one fundamental point: namely, that to understand our current globalized condition, one must first recall and rethink the first globalization of markets, exchanges of ideas, and the migration of peoples across the world’s oceans in the sixteenth century under the flags of Spanish and Portuguese galleons. From this argument the critical task turns to the analysis of Tirso de Molina’s El Burlador de Sevilla (The Trickster of Seville, 1620), a play that represents Spain’s Golden Age in its artistic as well as political and religious dimensions, specifically in its representation of Islamic and Christian conflicts that contain in embryo form questions of religious tolerance and human rights across the globe from the Age of Discovery to the present. This study proposes that Tirso de Molina’s comedias open paths of reflection on sixteenth century forms of European nationalism that coincided with the rise of other imperial nations— English, French, Dutch—and resulted in caste-like hierarchies and religious conflicts in colonial settings, problems that continue to divide peoples across the world.

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