“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.

Latest Articles

„Trading Goods, Trading Souls between Seville and las Indias. Casuistry, Economy, and Penitence in Seventeenth Century Spain“,

in: Romana Radlwimmer (ed.): Relating Continents. Coloniality and Global Encounters in Romance Literary and Cultural History, Berlin, De Gruyter 2023 (Latin American Literatures in the World / Literaturas Latinoamericanas en el Mundo17), 139-158.

„Die sprechende Wunde der Toten in der frühneuzeitlichen Literatur Spaniens“.

In: Mariacarla Gadebuch-Bondio/Marc Föcking (Hgg.): Die ewige Wunde, Beiträge zu einer Kulturgeschichte unheilbarer Wunden in der Vormoderne. Wolfenbüttel: HAB (Wolfenbütteler Forschungen) 2023, 221-240;

Latest Book

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.