Cogut Institute for the Humanities
Center for the Study of the Early Modern World

2020 Research and Teaching Report: Laura Bass

For all its challenges, this past year was immensely gratifying for me. Completing my second term as chair of Hispanic Studies (and anticipating a third one), I led the department through a very strong external review in which I was proud to present an excellent profile in early modern studies (as well as other fields), including four faculty members in the field: Stephanie Merrim, Andrew Laird, and Iris Montero, besides myself. Out of a cohort of five incoming graduate students, the department welcomed three exceptional early modernists: Ben Easton, David Pasard, and Mauricio Lepe Zepeda. At the same time, I shepherded my two fourth-year graduate students, Ana Garriga and Carmen Urbita, to ABD status. Beyond the department, I participated in a search, led by JCB director Neil Safier, for the Vasco da Gama Chair in the History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire, which culminated in the hire of Gabriel de Avilez Rocha, a specialist in the entanglement of social and environmental history in the Atlantic world. I also participated in dissertation examination committees, of Erika Valdivieso of Classics, who wrote a groundbreaking study of Virgilian imitation in Colonial Latin America, and of Julia Vázquez of Columbia’s art history program, who studied Diego Velázquez’s career as curator of Spain’s royal collections under Philip IV. Teaching was a joy. In the fall, I gave an advanced undergraduate course on Fashion and Fiction in the Early Modern Hispanic World, and in the spring I co-taught with Evie Lincoln a Cogut Institute Collaborative Humanities course: "Imagining Cities: Early Modern Urban Perspectives," whose twelve phenomenal students came from seven different departments.

Collaborative work is something I thrive on, not just in teaching but also scholarship. I am currently collaborating with art historian Tanya Tiffany (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) on an edition and translation of the spiritual autobiography of the seventeenth-century painter-nun Estefanía de la Encarnación, the only known autobiography by a woman artist of the early modern period; our bilingual edition will appear in the series "The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe" (co-published by Iter Press and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies). We recently published an article on the important, yet ambivalent, place of images in Estefanía’s spiritual life, as well as the visual dimensions of her autobiography, in a special dossier of the French online journal e-Spania: Revue interdisciplinaire d’études hispaniques médiévales et modernes (the dossier itself developed from a colloquium on painting and poetry I participated in last year at the Collège d’Espagne in Paris). Fruit of additional collaborations was a special double-issue of the journal Bulletin of the Comediantes (dedicated to the study of theater in the early modern Hispanic world) in honor of the early modern Hispanist Margaret Greer. In addition to its eleven articles by scholars from Europe and the U.S., the double issue contained over forty book reviews—fruits of my recently assumed role as the journal’s reviews editor, with the invaluable assistance of Ana Garriga and Carmen Urbita. This past year, I also completed an article titled "Staging Madrid: Urban Comedy for a New Court City," forthcoming in the Routledge Companion to Early Modern Spanish Literature and Culture (edited by Rodrigo Cacho and Caroline Egan of Cambridge University); the article is part of a book project on the cultural construction of Habsburg Madrid.