CORDIS - EU research results

Violence and Happy Endings in the Spanish Golden Age Narrative

Project description

The use of violence in 16th- and 17th-century Spanish narrative

Literature such as pastoral and courtly novels flourished during the Spanish Golden Age of the 1500s and 1600s. Almost exclusively written by men and widely read by women, violence was legitimised to grab the audience’s attention and reach a happy ending. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the VIOLENDINGS project aims to put forth a novel concept to examine these genres’ narrative structure. It will analyse the approaches used to neutralise and endorse violence so that plots lead to a joyful conclusion. The project will also study the interaction between the patriarchal society’s principles and the idealistic narrative’s structure.


The purpose of this project is to study the complex integration of violence in the Spanish Golden Age happy ending narrative. In the ‘idealistic’ Spanish narrative genres of the second half of the 16th and the first half of the 17th century, such as the pastoral and the courtly novel, the inclusion of violence is problematic. It is useful to create a gripping plot, but must be ‘solved’ to reach a happy ending. The project will propose the concept of ‘economy of violence’ to study the narrative structure of these genres and will analyze the strategies to deactivate and legitimize violence that allow these plots to resolve into a happy ending.

Beyond the literary approach, the project has the ambition to propose a multidisciplinary understanding of these strategies, bringing together literature, historical sociology and gender studies. Considering the social structures of the Golden Age Spain, together with the concrete context of production and consumption of these genres (almost always written by men and widely consumed by women), the project intends to provide a critical analysis of what was presented as a happy ending and an ideal solution to violence -particularly to gender-based violence- through these plots. This panorama will be completed with a separate study of the courtly novels written by women and an analysis of how the narrative schemes produced by the male hegemonic culture and the traditional happy endings were transformed or even rejected in their narrative production.

The project has two main objectives. On one hand, from a literary perspective, it aims to arrive at a better understanding of the ‘idealistic’ narrative genres of the Spanish Golden Age through the concept of ‘economy of violence’. On the other hand, from a socio-historical and a gender perspective, it aims to analyze the interplay between the dictates of the Spanish patriarchal society of the 16th-17th centuries and the structure of the idealistic narrative of this period.

Funding Scheme



Net EU contribution
€ 188 590,08
Via Festa Del Perdono 7
20122 Milano

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Nord-Ovest Lombardia Milano
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data