Episode 29- A Medieval Spanish Prometheus: Don Juan Manuel

Episode 29 with Mario Cossío Olavide

Don Juan Manuel was one of the most important literary figures of medieval Castile, and texts that he produced were foundational in the development of Spanish literature. They also reflected – and supported – his ideas about society, power, and nobility. In this episode, Dr. Mario Cossío Olavide discusses the nature and impact of Don Juan Manuel’s work. In particular, he explores connections between Don Juan Manuel’s literary work and his political ambitions, offers a new perspective on his representation of Islam and Islamic rulers, and also briefly discusses the later transmission and reception of his work throughout the Iberian Peninsula and beyond.    

The Episode

The Guest

Mario Cossío Olavide is a Research Affiliate in the Center for Medieval Studies of the University of Minnesota. He also is part of the research project HERES (Patrimonio textual ibérico y novohispánico. Recuperación y memoria) of the Universidad de Alcalá. His research interests include 14th-century Castilian historiography and didactic literature, with a focus on the work of Don Juan Manuel. His work has been published in eHumanista, Memorabilia, the Bulletin of Spanish Studies and the Revista de literatura medieval, among others. He is a member of the Asociación Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, the Ibero-Medieval Association of North America, the Mediterranean Seminar and the Modern Language Association. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and a M.A. from the University of Notre Dame.

Suggested Reading

  • Bautista, Francisco. “Autoría, niveles literarios y autocita. El Libro de los estados en la obra de don Juan Manuel.” Voz y letra 25, no. 1-2 (2014): 7-15.
  • Benito-Vessels, Carmen. Juan Manuel. Escritura y recreación de la historia. Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies, 1994.
  • Cossío Olavide, Mario. “Algunos moros muy sabidores. Virtuous Muslim Kings in Examples 30 and 41 of El conde Lucanor.” Bulletin of Spanish Studies 97, no. 2 (2020): 127–38.
  • Funes, Leonardo. “Excentricidad y descentramiento en la figura autoral de don Juan Manuel”. eHumanista 9 (2007): 1–19.
  • Gómez Redondo, Fernando. Historia de la prosa medieval castellana. Vol. 1: La creación del discurso prosístico: el entramado cortesano. Madrid: Cátedra, 1998.
  • Macpherson, Ian, ed. Juan Manuel Studies. London: Tamesis, 1977.
  • Lacarra, María Jesús. Don Juan Manuel. Madrid: Síntesis, 2006.
  • Savo, Anita Jude. Porque fago libros. Authority and Authorship in the Works of Juan Manuel. New Haven: Yale University, 2014. Doctoral Dissertation.
  • Wacks, David. Framing Iberia. Maqāmāt and Frametale Narratives in Medieval Spain. Leiden: Brill, 2007.

Featured Works

  • Alfonso X. Estoria de España Digital v. 1.1.  Edited by Aengus Ward. Birmingham: University of Birmingham, 2020.
  • Alfonso X. General estoria. Edited by Pedro Sánchez-Prieto Borja. Madrid: Fundación José Antonio de Castro, 2009.
  • Alfonso XI. Gran crónica de Alfonso XI. Edited by Diego Catalán. Madrid: Seminario Menéndez Pidal, 1977.
  • Juan Manuel. El Conde Lucanor. A Collection of Mediaeval Spanish Stories. Edited and translated by John England. Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1987.
  • Juan Manuel. Obras completas. Edited by Carlos Alvar and Sarah Finci. Madrid: Fundación José Antonio de Castro, 2007.
  • Kinkade, Richard P. Dawn of a Dynasty. The Life and Times of Infante Manuel of Castile. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.


At approximately 36:30, the individual mentioned should be Fernán González, not Fernán Gómez.

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