Academic journal article Parergon

Masculinity and Queer Desire in Spanish Enlightenment Literature

Academic journal article Parergon

Masculinity and Queer Desire in Spanish Enlightenment Literature

Article excerpt

Penrose, Mehl Allan, Masculinity and Queer Desire in Spanish Enlightenment Literature (New Hispanisms: Cultural and Literary Studies), Farnham, Ashgate, 2014; hardback; pp. 210; 2 b/w illustrations; R.R.P. [pounds sterling]60.00; ISBN 9781472422262.

In this compelling monograph, Mehl Allan Penrose 'examines the construction of "queerness"' (p. 1), and the changing ideas of masculinity and sexuality in Spanish Enlightenment cultural discourse. Penrose focuses his study on three non-normative male figures: the petimetre (or afeminado), an effeminate Francophile; the bujarron, the active male in same-sex sexual relations; and the Arcadian shepherd who expresses his desire for other males. He argues that these figures were characterised in a 'queer' manner to reinforce rigid ideas of gender. In doing so, however, they actually engendered non-normative men and helped to create 'an alternative version of "man"' (p. 2).

The book is divided into two parts. The first examines the 'cultural and historical context of the afeminado... and the perceived crisis of masculinity in Spain' (p. 26). Chapter 1 analyses how language and concepts such as hermaphrodita and jembra vestia de hombre (women dressed as men) were used in Spanish periodicals to establish the petimetre as a gendered other. In Chapter 2, Penrose applies a camp reading to the comedic sainetes of Ramon de la Cruz, arguing that Cruz's petimetres, exaggerated in their behaviour and appearance, represent a 'proto-camp fguron' (p. …

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