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José R. Jouve-Martín is Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies. His research revolves around the intersection between history and literature. His main research projects are the following:

Slavery, Literacy and Colonialism in Latin America

The assumption that African slaves and their descendants were fundamentally illiterate, confined to a mostly oral culture, and, as such, unable to participate in the written culture that developed throughout the colonial world has been commonplace in the historiography of slavery in Spanish America. A careful review of the historical record suggests that this might have been a misconstruction and that, particularly in the urban setting, peoples of African origin interacted more often than previously assumed with written documents and literate practices. "Slavery, Literacy and Colonialism in Latin America" focuses on literacy and the problem of how writing as a technology was used by African slaves and their descendants in different parts of Latin America in order to negotiate their social position, history and identity. An important first step in this direction has been the publication of Prof. Jouve-Martin's book  Esclavos de la ciudad letrada: Esclavitud, escritura y colonialismo en Lima, 1650-1700 (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2005), which addresses the conditions under which the Afro-Peruvian community of Lima came into contact with the lettered culture of the 17th century, and the ways in which slaves and freemen interacted with the European written tradition in a colonial setting. Prof. Jouve-Martín has been generously funded by both FQRSC and SSHRC in order to expand this research both geographically and diachronically.  

Colonial Latin America on the Opera Stage

From Henry Purcell’s 1695 music for The Indian Queen to Wolfgang Rihm's 1992 musiktheater Die Eroberung von Mexiko, the conquest and colonization of America has been a recurring, but seldom explored topic of European opera composers such as Rameau, Spontini, Graun, Verdi, Gomes and Offenbach, to mention just but a few. This research project concentrates in the ways in which the early history of  Latin America has been presented to European audiences in the works of these composers. It explores the transformations of historical discourses when they cross different genres (from history to literature, and from literature to music). It also addresses how these discourses were rewritten and adapted to different national and cultural traditions. Although the project is more a cultural history of opera than a musicological work, attention will be given not only to the librettos, but also to the ways in which composers tried to express the conquest and colonization of America by musical means.  

Death, Kingship, and Writing in the Spanish Colonial Empire (1560-1886)

The death of a reigning king was a solemn and momentous occasion commemorated throughout the Spanish Colonial Empire with elaborate funerary ceremonies. These obsequies were complemented by the work of various artists including architects, musicians, silversmiths, carpenters and tailors. However, among all of these arts, writing had the most important role. Writers and poets were in charge of creating texts, hieroglyphs and emblems that decorated the colonial cities, literally transforming the urban setting into a lettered space in which the King was at the same time mourned and celebrated. My research focuses on the evolution of these funerary ceremonies and the circulation and development of royal accounts of obsequies in the Spanish overseas possessions. Chronologically, it begins in 1560 with the publication the obsequies for Charles V in Mexico City and ends three hundred years later and half a world away in the Philippines with the publication in 1886 the City of Manila obsequies of King Alphonse XII. The study of this corpus will allow me to analyze how royal funerary ceremonies and accounts evolved over three centuries and also to examine the way in which each colonial region developed its own ritual and artistic traditions despite their apparent conformity to pre-imposed Iberian molds. This research has been generously funded by SSHRC (Standard Research Grant Program).

Research Groups

Prof. José R. Jouve-Martín is an active member of the following international research groups:

The MCRI group "The Hispanic Baroque" (Conflicting Identities and Representations). Coordinated by Juan Luis Suárez (University of Western Ontario). See http://www.hispanicbaroque.ca/and http://baroque-identities.mcgill.ca/

"Imperios letrados: cartografias da escrita no mundo ultramarino ibérico." Coordinated by Jorge Flores (Brown University). See http://redcolumnaria.inf.um.es/WEB/REDCOLUMNARIA/HTML/RCNodo18.html?imag=1

“El pasado, un laboratorio de experiencias: historias e identidades.” Coordinated by Alfredo Alvar Ezquerra (Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, España).

Research Fields

Orality and Literacy; Memory and historiography in literary discourses; 16th and 17th Latin American Literature; 20th Century Testimonial Literature; Race in Literature; Colonialism in Literature; History of Ideas in Latin America