Frederick A. de Armas
Frederick A. de Armas was born in Havana, Cuba on February 9, 1945. He attended elementary school at La Salle and when his parents moved to France, be went to boarding school at Le Rosey in Switzerland. After his family lost their possessions as a result of the Cuban Revolution, he moved to the United States. De Armas holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1969), and has taught at Louisiana State University (1969–1988), Pennsylvania State University (where he was Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature) (1988–2000) and has been a visiting professor at Duke University (1994). Since 2000 he has been at the University of Chicago where he is Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Romance Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature. He has served as Chair of Romance Languages and Literatures (2006–2009; 2010–2012). In addition he has been Vice President and President of the Cervantes Society of America (2003–2009); and President of AISO Asociacion Internacional Siglo de Oro (2015-2017).
De Armas' publications focus on early modern Spanish literature and culture, often from a comparative perspective. His interests include the politics of astrology, magic and the Hermetic tradition, ekphrasis, verbal and visual culture, etc. His early books evince an interest in the relationship between mythology and literature, between the classics and Spanish Golden Age works. They include: The Invisible Mistress: Aspects of Feminism and Fantasy in the Golden Age (1976), which contains some of the earliest discussions of proto-feminism in early modern Spain, and The Return of Astraea: An Astral-Imperial Myth in Calderón (1986), which is one of the first studies that approach Calderón from a historicist perspective and is also deeply influenced by the writings of the Warburg Institute. For example, he interprets the figure of Circe in one of Calderon's plays as critiquing the policies of Philip IV's minister, the Count-Duke of Olivares. On the other hand, Astraea is in many cases a figure that serves to praise the regime. His interest in Golden Age Theater has led him to publish several book collections: The Prince in the Tower: Perceptions of "La vida es sueño" (1993), Heavenly Bodies: The Realms of "La estrella de Sevilla" (1996) and A Star-Crossed Golden Age: Myth and the Spanish Comedia (1998).
One of his main interests throughout his career has been the relationship between the verbal and the visual in early modern Spanish literature and Italian art. In recent years, this subject has become central to his research, as evinced by the book, Cervantes, Raphael and the Classics (Cambridge, 1998). This study focuses on Cervantes’ most famous tragedy, La Numancia, showing how it is engaged in a conversation with classical authors of Greece and Rome, especially through the interpretations of antiquity presented by the artist Raphael. This book was followed by the collections Writing for the Eyes in the Spanish Golden Age (2004) and Ekphrasis in the Age of Cervantes (2005). In the introduction to this last collection he establishes a typology of ekphrasis, including definitions for allusive, collectionist, descriptive, dramatic, interpolated, narrative, shaping, and veiled ekphrasis, as well as meta-ekphrasis and ur-ekphrasis. He applies these terms in his book: Quixotic Frescoes. Cervantes and Italian Art (Toronto, 2006).
After his book on Cervantes and Italian art, he co-edited two collections on Spanish Golden Age theater. The first one, on tragedy, is entitled Hacia la tragedia: Lecturas para un nuevo milenio (Madrid, 2008); and the second one, on a specific writer is called Calderón: del manuscrito a la escena (2011). At the same time, he continues to work on Cervantes, having published an edited volume, Ovid in the Age of Cervantes (2010). His latest book, Don Quixote among the Saracens: Clashes of Civilizations and Literary Genres (2011) has received the American Publishers' Association PROSE Award in Literature, Honorable Mention (2011). The book has a double focus. The first has to do with a clash of civilizations and asks: Why is Don Quixote at peace among the Saracens? The second has to do with Don Quixote as an "imperial" vehicle for the assimilation or destruction of literary genres.
Starting around 2008 De Armas became increasingly interested in the cultural and literary productions of the maternal side of his family, publishing essays on Ana Galdós, Domingo A. Galdós and Benito Pérez Galdós. He has also started to publish fiction while continuing to work on the literature and culture of early modern Spain.
- The Four Interpolated Stories in the Roman Comique (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1971).
- Paul Scarron (New York: Twayne Books, 1972).
- The Invisible Mistress: Aspects of Feminism and Fantasy in the Golden Age (Charlottesville: Biblioteca Siglo de Oro, 1976).
- The Return of Astraea: An Astral-Imperial Myth in Calderón (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1986).
- The Prince in the Tower: Perceptions of "La vida es sueño" (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1993).
- Heavenly Bodies: The Realms of "La estrella de Sevilla" (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1996).
- A Star-Crossed Golden Age: Myth and the Spanish Comedia (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1998).
- Cervantes, Raphael and the Classics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
- European Literary Careers: The Author from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002). Edited with Patrick Cheney.
- Writing for the Eyes in the Spanish Golden Age (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2004).
- Ekphrasis in the Age of Cervantes (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2005).
- Quixotic Frescoes: Cervantes and Italian Renaissance Art (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006).
- Hacia la tragedia: Lecturas para un nuevo milenio (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2008). Edited with Luciano Garcia Lorenzo and Enrique Garcia Santo-Tomas.
- Ovid in the Age of Cervantes (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010).
- Don Quixote among the Saracens: A Clash of Civilizations and Literary Genres (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011).
- Calderón: del manuscrito a la escena (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2011). Edited with Luciano Garcia Lorenzo.
- Objects of Culture in the Literature of Imperial Spain (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013). Edited with Mary E. Barnard.
- Nuevas sonoras aves. Catorce estudios sobre Calderon de la Barca (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2015). Edited with Antonio Sanchez Jimenez
- See his autobiography included in a volume entitled ¿Por qué España? Memorias del hispanismo estadounidense, eds. Anna Caballe Masrorroll and Randolph D. Pope. Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg, 2015.
- Carrie L. Ruiz, "Oscillating trends: A Reflection of the Status of Seventeenth-Century Studies Today: Interview of Frederick A. de Armas" Transitions. Journal of Franco-Iberian Studies 5 (2009), pp. 9-25
- The Perception of Women in Spanish Theater of the Golden Age. Ed. Anita K. Stoll and Dawn L. Smith. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1991, p. 19
- Santiago Fernández Mosquera, "El significado de las primeras fiestas cortesanas de Calderón," Calderón y el pensamiento ideológico y cultural de su época: XIV Coloquio Anglogermano sobre Calderón, eds., Manfred Tietz y Gero Arnscheidt, Stuttgart, Steiner, 2008, p.224.
- Margaret Rich Greer, The Play of Power. Mythological Court Dramas of Calderón de la Barca.Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991, pp. 88ff.