Javier Patiño Loira joined the department of Spanish and Portuguese at UCLA in 2017, after receiving his PhD from Princeton University. He has published articles and book chapters on a variety of topics connected with early modern Spain and Italy. These include the formation of libraries, educational theory, translation, and the development of the notion of interiority.

At present, Javier is finishing a book tentatively entitled The Age of Subtlety: Rhetorical Ingenuity and Natural Science (1619-1654), a project that has been awarded an ACLS Fellowship for the 2020-21 academic year. The Age of Subtlety tells a story at the crossroads of humanistic and scientific inquiry. It explores the cult of “conceits,” intricate statements that sought to arouse wonder in the audience through the use of one or more tropes. Seventeenth-century authors depicted conceits as evidence of the heightened and historically unparalleled sophistication reached by the present in which they lived, on a par with technological developments such as the telescope and the microscope. By examining a group of Italian and Spanish theories of the conceit composed between 1619 and 1654 in parallel with contemporary works of natural philosophy and mathematical disciplines, the book contests the received and well-established belief that conceits departed from the imitation of nature in the pursuit of creative freedom. Instead, it contends that theorists often understood the fashion as a response to a new sensibility towards the study of nature articulated around the notion of “subtlety.” For them, conceits had become the rhetorical and poetic counterparts of a nature that was particularly present in its smallest creatures, and which thrived in secrecy, unpredictability, and unstable equilibrium.

Since September 2014, Javier has been part of the Diversifying the Classics project, directed by Prof. Barbara Fuchs at UCLA. As a regular member of the project’s Comedia in Translation and Performance working group, he has co-translated several early modern Hispanic plays.


  • M.A./Ph.D.(2012/2016) Spanish and Portuguese, Princeton University
  • M.A.(2008) Literature and Arts, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris
  • B.A.(2007) Romance Languages (Italian), Universidad de Santiago de Compostela
  • B.A.(2007) Spanish, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela


  • Early Modern Spanish and Italian Literature
  • Poetics and Rhetoric
  • Early Modern Science
  • Humanism and Antiquarianism
  • Libraries and Collections




SPAN 42. Iberian Cultures.

In SPAN 42 we will learn about Spanish history and culture through the prism of diversity. We will look at Spain as the site of centuries-long encounters and negotiations among different religious, ethnic, and linguistic groups. We will also learn about Spain’s role in world history by considering it a point of reference in the first but crucial moment of globalization in the 16th and 17th centuries.


SPAN 120. Literature in Historical Context. Difference and Diversity in the Early Modern Global Hispanic World.

What does a novel, a poem, or a chronicle tell about the world in which it came into being? How might knowledge about a period’s political, social, and religious circumstances (about the way people lived, what they feared and hoped for) help us understand what they wrote and read? SPAN 120 builds on the notion that, whereas literature is not exactly a mirror of life, it provides readers with powerful insights about any society’s expectations and anxieties. With that in mind, we will consider how in the first age of globalization (the 16th and the 17th century) the encounter with new peoples and lands involved a profound and self-conscious reflection on what makes human beings both similar and different from one another. While pondering on religious, cultural, racial, sexual, or linguistic difference, scholars and writers asked questions (and offered answers) that, albeit often unsatisfactory, discriminatory, and violent, give us nonetheless a glimpse of the mechanisms with which present societies still struggle to cope with diversity. From the distance of several centuries, we will realize that many of the reactions to difference that are characteristic of the present are woven with the stuff of protracted conflicts and attempts at dialogue that date back to early modern history. Readings include El Abencerraje, works by Cervantes, Calderón, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Cabeza de Vaca, Inca Garcilaso de La Vega, and others.


SPAN 135. Performing One’s Life in the 17th-Century Transatlantic Spanish World.

Performance shaped the existence of 17th-century individuals. Men and women, regardless of class and race, gathered at the theater, eager to see and to be seen. Even outdoors, ephemeral architecture and fireworks transformed cities and turned citizens into spectators. However, at the end of the day, everyone realized that it was the human hearts and minds that provided the curious with the most genuine and mysterious spectacle to see. We will read plays by Lope de Vega, Ruiz de Alarcón, Guillén de Castro, Ana Caro, Tirso de Molina, Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz, and others. They will guide us through a world in which the suspicion that everyone in the street was performing a role was only too real. Individuals feared that the other was concealing his or her true self. It became necessary to develop tools in order to peep into people’s minds, while keeping one’s own under lock. Only the smartest ones (and we will read them too) realized that even to spy on others was often easier than to look inside one’s self.


SPAN 135. Embodied Minds: Love & Emotions in Early Modern Hispanic Literature & Science.

What happens to our body and soul when we fall in love or find friendship? What good or bad does it to us as individuals and to society? Students will read novels, theatrical plays, poems, and even fragments of medical and psychological treatises that present us with the answers that 16th- and 17th-century individuals gave to questions like these. For some, love was a terminal illness. For others, the only path to happiness. Then like now, it tied in affection people of different but also of the same gender. Philosophers hailed friendship as the way to find another self with whom alone sincerity was allowed in a world that forced individuals to mask every feeling in order to dissimulate with others. Unfortunately, much like today, love and friendship took place under constraints of gender, class and race. They helped to create social ties as much as they operated through exclusion. Readings include La Celestina, Cervantes, María de Zayas, and Antonio Mira de Amescua.


SPAN 135. Interrogating Gender in 17th-century Spain.

A study of gender as depicted in 17th-century novels, autobiographies and plays from both shores of Spain’s Atlantic Empire. That of 17th-century Spain was a patriarchal society made up of contradictions. The king’s closest pen friend was a nun who influenced policymaking in a world that did not allow women to hold office. Females authored bestselling books against the outcry of confessors and preachers. They were not allowed to act unless in their husband’s troupe, but then became real celebrities, earning higher salaries than men. Women starred in plays that constantly showed female characters falling in love with cross-dressed members of their own sex, despite legal bans against homosexuality. The literature of the time shows individuals eager to cross gender boundaries and test prejudice in ways that allow us to reflect upon today’s society. Readings include Ana Caro, Lope de Vega, Erauso, Tirso de Molina, María de Zayas, Sor Juana.


SPAN 226. Prose of the Golden Age. Imagining Community. The Faces of Utopia in the Early Modern Global Hispanic World.

Through early modern works written in Spanish in three continents, students will explore how a diverse but hierarchical society envisioned ideal or better communities after models based on the series of intercultural, interreligious, and interracial encounters that resulted from the globalization of the 16th and 17th centuries—but also on the experience of gender and power divides. How did travelers to Istanbul and Beijing, as well as the soldiers who marched on Tenochtitlan reflect on alternative forms of coexistence? How did gender shape new ways of participating in a community, allowing women to explore innovative forms of anonymity? How did gypsies, and other marginalized communities, serve as experiments to imagine different legal and social frameworks of coexistence? How did racial and religious conflict generate debates on identity and difference in Mediterranean and Atlantic contexts?


SPAN 226. Prose of the Golden Age. Self-Fashioning and Interiority in Early Modern Spain.

For Spaniards of the seventeenth century, one of the most salient features of the age in which they lived was the progressive development of a barrier between the individual’s exterior and his or her interiority. Political handbooks influenced by Machiavelli and Tacitus, as well as treatises on self-fashioning intended as how-to manuals for those living at the court popularized the idea that modern men and women differed from those of past times in that they excelled at creating appearances, using sophisticated techniques of simulation and dissimulation with the aim of preventing others from seeing “inside” them while, in turn, they tried to peep into everyone else’s heart. Students will read sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish theatrical plays, novels, political handbooks and manuals of behavior. They will learn how notions of privacy and intimacy (always marked in terms of gender and class) acquired increasingly defined contours within the context of interpersonal communication at the court, political relations, and diplomatic conflicts.



SPAN 224. Poetry of the Golden Age. A Society of Poets.

From metropolitan hubs like Mexico City and Madrid to small villages and cloistered communities, early modern poetry circulated in a variety of media that ranged from orality to manuscript and print—on books, broadsheets, and walls. It was a tool of socialization and self-fashioning for elites and common people alike, with cobblers and nuns vying for awards in public competitions, courtiers quibbling on a variety of emotions in court games, and humanists discussing scientific topics in verse with learned friends. In SPAN 224, we are going to focus on two aspects of early modern poetry, namely its role as a means of social cohesion and dispute, and as a site for contemporary scholars to theorize the shared ecologies of natural and human creativity and ingenuity, at the time in which writing verse and the study of nature were twin activities often carried out by the same individuals.

Articles and Book Chapters