Dueling Monsters: Non-Normative Bodies in Luis Vélez de Guevara’s La serrana de la Vera

Harley Erdman


ABSTRACT:

Luis Vélez de Guevara’s La serrana de la Vera (1613) has generated a lot of critical interest recently – and one major stage production – because of its extraordinarily non-normative protagonist, Gila, who identifies as a man and behaves as one, while undertaking uncommon feats of strength, heroism, and violence. She has been variously identified over the years as “irregular,” homosexual, lesbian, queer, and, most recently, by Harrison Meadows at the 2016 ASTR conference, as transgender. In this paper, I will argue that the play also includes another extraordinary body: Captain Don Lucas de Carvajal, her seducer and aggressor, who textually and contextually can be specified as Jewish. His non-normative masculinity can be paired with Gila’s non-normative femininity in a way that generates a richer and more complicated understanding of this tragedy, thus differentiating it from other “rural honor” plays like Lope de Vega’s Fuente Ovejuna or Peribáñez. As the first translator of this play into English, I will also pose how this perspective affects translation choices and, in consequence, potential staging and adaptation choices.

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