DEFINING THE COMEDIA: ON GENERALIZATIONS ONCE WIDELY ACCEPTED THAT ARE NO LONGER ACCEPTED SO WIDELY.

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    • Abstract:
      How we think about the Spanish comedia as a genre has changed dramatically over the past thirty years. Informed as we are today by a multitude of decentralizing theories, it is hard to believe that so much time and energy was spent, just a generation ago, on trying to establish a list of characteristics and generalizations that would not just define all comedias and exclude those that one would intuitively not include in the genre, but would provide the singular, monolithic approach to understanding the comedia. The assertions reconsidered here include the claims that the comedia was monolithic and conventional, that it faithfully reflected Spanish society, that it was profoundly conservative from social, political, and moral points of view, and that comedia plots uniformly followed a trajectory from order disturbed to order restored. Since many of those assertions are no longer held to be so incontrovertibly true, it is tempting to ask, "Were we wrong then or are we wrong now?" Such a question falls into the trap of assuming that one interpretation or one approach to literature is right and all others are wrong. Ultimately every generation must reconsider everything it knows about the literature that is handed down to it and come to its own conclusions, its own generalizations, and its own definitions. Otherwise, literature, especially that produced centuries ago, runs the risk of becoming irrelevant to readers of future generations. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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