“Sin writes histories,
goodness is silent.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Galleria della Verità” (Gallery of Truth)
Giuseppe Alberti, 1688

Casuistry is a time-tested tool to examine conscience …

Casuistry and Early Modern Spanish literature

(funded by the Austrian Science Funds, FWF P 32297, until Sept. 2023)

This funded project pursues the hypothesis that juridical, theological and medical debates on contested (honor) cases in the Early Modern period bring forth a veritable mindset that entails a fictional boost, hence, it is a considerable prerequisite for the success story of the modern novel.

On the other hand, the boom of narrative casuistry elaborating on knowledge and social regimes retroacts on their very epistemological basis. In this context the project shall allow for new insights regarding the social relevance and embeddedness of the so-called Querelle des Femmes.

Staff members

Carmen Arenas Cuenca

Her PhD project Casuística literaria del matrimonio en el Siglo de Oro español is dedicated to the question of the mutual influence between Spanish casuistic treatises and the subject of marriage in Golden Age literature.

Tamara Bartl

Her PhD project Casuistry in Spanish and Latin American Literature of The Early Colonial Period deals with the question of how the ethical and philosophical discussions of the Spanish casuists on the status of human beings as legal persons and their dignity were processed in factual and fictional Spanish and Latin American texts of the early colonial period.

April, 26–28, 2023, Department of Romance Studies

„Home, Metropolis, Court
Cultural Negotiations of Sociality in Early Modern Spain”,

International conference at the University of Vienna in cooperation with Teresa Hiergeist.

Feb., 15. –17, 2023, Universität Frankfurt

“Medical Casuistry by a Young Migrant Intellectual: Juan de Cárdenas’ Problemas y secretos maravillosos de las Indias (1591)”,

Talk at the International Conference Bodies, Remedies, Policies: From Early Modern Chronicles of the Indies to Covid-19 Narrative)”, organized by Romana Radlwimmer.

Latest Articles

“Law New and Old: Tropes of Blindness in the Celestina”.

In: Celestinesca 45, 2021, 9 –28

„Beredte Armaturen: Tropen der Männlichkeit im Orlando Furioso und ihr Nachleben im Don Quijote“.

In: Zeitsprünge. Forschungen zur Frühen Neuzeit 26,1 (2022), 101-122

New Release

Marlen Bidwell-Steiner / Michael Scham. (Eds.)

Casuistry and Early Modern Spanish Literature

Leiden: Brill 2022 (Foro Hispánico 66)

This volume examines a neglected yet crucial field: the importance of casuistic thought and discourse in development of literary genres in early modern Spain. Faced with the momentous changes wrought by discovery, empire, religious schism, expanding print culture, consolidation of legal codes and social transformation, writers sought innovation within existing forms (the novella, the byzantine romance, theatrical drama) and created novel genres (most notably, the picaresque). These essays show how casuistry, with its questioning of example and precept, and meticulous concern with conscience the particularities of circumstance, is instrumental in cultivating the subjectivity, rhetorical virtuosity and spirit of inquiry that we have come to associate with the modern novel.


Member of the Steering Committee of “GAIN Gender: Ambivalent In_Visibilities”.

This Research Platform has been established in January 2020, for four years and is directed by Elisabeth Holzleithner (Department of Legal Philosophy). It encompasses five faculties and pursues a multidisciplinary research on the genderedness of making and becoming in/visible, its chances and its fallacies.