Esther Fernández

WEBSITE(S)| Spanish and Portuguese | European Studies


  • PhD, University of California, Davis


Research and Teaching

  • Early Modern Iberian Literatures
  • Visual and Material Culture
  • Performance Studies
  • Theatre History


Recent Courses

  • SPPO 380 Current Issues in Spain
  • SPPO 361 Women and Gender in Spanish Culture
  • SPPO 348 Introduction to Modern Spanish Literature and Culture
  • SPPO 347 Medieval and Early Modern Spanish Literature and Culture


Esther Fernández works on early modern Spanish literature and culture, with a special interest in the history of theatre and its relationship to an emerging civil society in Spain. Her most recent book, To Embody the Marvelous (2021), explores the role of puppets, automata, and mechanical stage props in early modern Spain for the development of a rationalized sense of wonder that questioned the normative authority of religious and artistic traditions. She also has a research interest in Cervantes, sexuality in Golden Age Spanish theatre, and in the contemporary staging of early modern theatre. Fernández is also a founding member of the Dragoncillo Puppet Troupe, which is dedicated to bilingual storytelling with shadow puppets, a technique that played a central role in early modern theatre. As one of the founding members of the Iberian Theatre and Performance Network, she is also a regular theatre critic on both sides of the Atlantic and she has published critical editions of Baroque dramatists, such as Lope de Vega and Tirso de Molina, but also of twentieth-century Spanish authors, such as Carmen Martín Gaite.

At Rice, Fernández serves as the Program Advisor for Spanish and Portuguese. She is a Resident Associate at Wiess College, where she also serves as the Divisional Advisor for the Humanities, and she is a Fellow at the Center for Teaching Excellence. She was a Summer Fellow at the National Humanities Center (2018) and a Faculty Fellow at the Telluride Association’s branch at Cornell University (2011-12).


Selected Publications


1. Books and Edited Volumes

  • Ed. with María Chouza-Calo and Jonathan Thacker, The Unsafe Stage: Daring Adaptations, Creative Failures and Experimental Performances in Iberian and Transnational Contexts (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, forthcoming in 2022).
  • Ed. with Adrienne L. Martín, Cervantes’s Theatrical Revelations (Toronto: Toronto University Press, forthcoming in 2021).
  • To Embody the Marvelous: The Making of Illusions in Early Modern Spain (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2021).
  • Ed. with J. Yuri Porras, Living the Comedia. Essays Celebrating Amy Williamsen (Vol. II) (New Orleans: UP of the South, 2020)
  • Ed. with Victoria Ketz, Re-imagining Female Disabilities in Luso-Hispanic Women’s Cultural Production, special issue of Revista de Estudios de Género y Sexualidad 45/1 (2020). 
  • Ed. With Adrienne L. Martín. Teatralidad en la obra de Cervantes, special issue of eHumanista/Cervantes 8 (2020).
  • Ed. with Eduardo Olid-Guerrero, The Image of Elizabeth I in Early Modern Spain (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2019).
  • Ed. with Mercedes Alcalá Galán, Sex and Gender in Cervantes / Sexo y género en Cervantes (Kassel: Edition Reichenberger, 2019).
  • Ed. with David Rodríguez-Solás, Marginality in Spanish Theater, special double issue of Romance Quarterly 65/4 (2018) and 66/1(2019).
  • Ed. with María Bastianes and Purificació Mascarell, Diálogos en las tablas: Últimas tendencias de la puesta en escena del teatro clásico español (Kassel: Edition Reichenberger, 2014).
  • Eros en escena: El erotismo en el teatro del Siglo de Oro (Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta, 2009).


2. Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Confessing on the Move: Journey to Parnassus and ‘Appendix to the Parnassus’,” in Aaron M. Kahn (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Cervantes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021), 445-66.
  • “Más allá de la cuarta pared: Augusto Boal y la reinterpretación social del teatro clásico español.” In  José Ramón Alcántara Mejía Et. al. (eds.), Shakespeare y otros clásicos contemporáneos: una mirada shakesperiana al teatro mexicano actual. Eds. Ciudad de México: CITRU-Universidad Iberoamericana (2021), 175-184.
  • “Celda de juegos/Prison Games: una dramaturgia de la opresión.” Contextos: Revista de humanidades y ciencias sociales 45 (2019). 
  • “From the Cross to the Stage: Divine Puppets and Spectacular Saints in Early Modern Spanish Culture,” Hispania 102/1 (2019), 59-73.
  • “Taking Center Stage: Early Modern Women’s Tragedies on the Contemporary Stage,” Romance Quarterly 65/4 (2018), 192-201.
  • “Lope de Vega en televisión,” Anuario de Lope de Vega 24 (2018), 10-37.
  • “Laurencia, Then and Now: A Transhistorical Reading of Fuenteovejuna,” Letras femeninas 43/1 (2017), 17-27.
  • “The Languages of Puppetry: Re-writing Early Modern Iberian Theater in the Contemporary Stage,” Romance Notes 55/1 (2015), 17-26.
  • “Envisioning Guacolda: From Lyrical Creation to Ideological Manipulation,” in Gladys Robalino (ed.), Female Amerindians in Early Modern Spanish Theater (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2014), 141-54.
  • “Santos de Palo: La máquina real y el poder de lo inanimado,” Modern Language Notes 128/2 (2013), 420-32.
  • “La moza de cántaro y la coreografía de la palabra poética,” Hispania 95/2 (2012), 247-57.
  • “Preludio erótico de una tragedia: El role play en La venganza de Tamar de Tirso de Molina,” in Frederick A. de Armas, Luciano García Lorenzo, and Enrique García Santo-Tomás (eds.), Hacia la tragedia áurea: Lecturas para un nuevo milenio (Madrid: Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2008), 229-39.


             Esther Book1     Esther Book2     Esther Book3     Esther Book4                          

            Esther Book5    Esther_Book6    Esther_Book7