The self as subject and the subjected self: networks of being and becoming in the captivity of Miguel de Cervantes and Antonio de Sosa
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In this dissertation, I draw on theories of affect, performance and social networks to examine cross-cultural contact in three captivity plays by Miguel de Cervantes that take place outside of Spain, La gran sultana, El trato de Argel and Los baños de Argel, as well as the only extant work by the Portuguese cleric Antonio de Sosa, Topografía e historia general de Argel, an understudied and historically significant account of life in Algiers during the late sixteenth century. Both of these authors, held against their will in Algiers’ slave quarters, emphasize humanity and corporeality despite their dehumanizing experience of captivity. I regard the act of writing as an attempt by these two authors to create new nodes in a human Mediterranean network, one expanded by corsairing and spanning from Algeria to the Spanish playhouses and beyond. In doing so, my dissertation shows how works of this epoch often dismantle binary systems of Christian and Muslim, self and other, dyads upon which modern postcolonial studies rely so heavily. I argue that these authors, and their fictional characters, are intermediaries across categories of identity, in spite of difference. Through my close readings I further refashion early modern Spanish identity within the framework of cosmopolitanism, wherein sites of bondage become not only spaces of conflict but also of confluence.