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Dr Sally-Ann Kitts

My research interests lie in the intellectual history and literature of the Spanish long eighteenth century and I am the author of books and articles published in the UK, Spain and the US that aim to deepen and enrich our understanding of how people in this period lived, expressed, and understood themselves and their relationships with others. My most recent major publication is a scholarly edition of Leandro Moratín's La mojigata (Barcelona: Castalia, 2015), which is based on a manuscript of the play presented by the author himself to Elizabeth, Lady Holland in August 1804, three months after the appearance of the first printed edition of the play in a substantially reduced and altered form. It is the first and currently only edition of Moratín’s play about education and religious hypocrisy to be published in full, without the cuts and alterations that the work suffered as it made the journey from manuscript to printed text. My introduction explores the complex history of the play’s genesis and early transmission in manuscript form and the issues behind the self-censorship that Moratín felt it necessary to exercise in order to bring the play to print in a society still heavily controlled by state and church censorship. It reveals that the full version of the play offers a much more direct critique of contemporary religious observance and rejection of the religious life as a sterile living death, as well as developing all the characters into more nuanced and complex individuals.

My current work is focused on a monograph provisionally entitled Conceptions of the Modern Self: An Exploration of Subjectivity in Spain from 1680-1835, in which I explore the ways in which the fundamentally different conceptions of the self that emerge from the work of such thinkers as Montaigne and Descartes give rise in turn to Spanish texts which engage with and question the implications of this new, self-reliant, constructive and creative subject. I begin with a chapter that seeks to establish the parameters of the early modern self, building up a picture of its key characteristics and implications, in order to establish a heuristic that then enables me to draw out the profound implications that these changes in perspective, outlook and conception of subjectivity had for how men and women in Spain were able to write about themselves, in both overtly fictive forms such as plays and novels as well as other literary forms such as essays, treatises, plans and proposals. While Spain has often been seen as a country that sits on the intellectual and geographical margins of traditional schemas of Enlightenment thought, by focusing on what I regard as the most fundamental change that signifies the dawn of a new ‘modern’ paradigm – that is in how we conceive of and understand ourselves as subjects and our place as individuals in the world – I raise questions about what characteristics are ‘required’ for an individual to be seen as modern and argue that those prized to date, notions such as an unquestioning acceptance of scientific rationalism and the espousing of radical ideas about religion and society, are not prerequisites for a definition of modernity but rather the outcomes of a fundamental change in thinking that has already taken place. This alternative focus gives a different picture of the origins of modernity, arguably a more accurate and faithful one that is responsive t o the particular circumstances of individual cultures and countries not in a hierarchical way that ranks them according to ‘radicalness’ in outcomes, but in a culturally sensitive way that reveals the many alternative ways that modern conceptions of the self developed into new ways of understanding ourselves and our relationship to the world in which we live.

I have also published on the life and writings of Elizabeth Vassall Fox, Lady Holland and continue to maintain an active research interest in this area, with plans for a variety of projects including a scholarly edition of her Spanish Journal (1802-5, 1808-9), based on the original manuscripts located in the British Library, and a new biography.

I have supervised postgraduate research on ‘Unamuno and Socialism’ (Rhîan Williams, PhD 2009) and 'When the mountains speak: the voices of rural landscape in the short stories of Miguel Torga and Han Shaogong' (Gustavo Infante, PhD, 2014). I am currently supervising Jade Boyd who is researching on 'The Affect of Colour in Lorca’s Poetics' and would welcome enquiries in the research areas outlined above and on the theatre of Lorca.


Over the last 3 years:

Unit director:

HISP20082 The Masks of Don Juan: Representations of the Legendary Figure in Spain, 1630-1930

HISP20083 El siglo de las luces: Literature and Society inSpain,1700-1814

MODL23014 Catalan Language (Elementary)

HISP30029 The Theatre of Federico García Lorca

HISP31027 Gender and Identity in the Spanish Theatre: From the Golden Age to Romanticism

MODL30011 Catalan Language (Elementary)


Contributor to:

HISP10014 The Making of the Hispanic World

HISP10010 Critical Concepts in the Study of the Hispanic World

MODL23021 Theatre and Performance

HISP30101 Spanish Language

MODLM2042 Constructing Identities

I coordinate and oversee Catalan Studies at Bristol, both within Modern Language degrees and in terms of units available to students across the University, working with the Catalan Government-funded Language Tutor. I maintain both a professional and a personal interest in, and knowledge of, the current socio-political situation in Catalonia, and I have the expertise to explore it within both the Catalan and Spanish historical contexts.