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Reinventing the wheel: Pedro de Guevara’s Nueva y sutil invencion as pedagogical technology

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This article shows that the Spanish court was an experimental pedagogical space oriented toward cultivating women as political subjects. In order to do so, I will examine Pedro de Guevara’s Nueva y sutil invencion, en seys instrumentos (1581), a primer containing a Latin grammar game written in the vernacular, designed for Philip II’s daughters, Isabel Clara Eugenia and Catalina Micaela. The novelty of the game is that it is built around a series of circular paper mechanisms, called instrumentos, that allow the player-student to learn Latin as a combination of grammatical elements present on a wheel, as opposed to the rote memorization of canonical passages. In this article, I will show that Pedro de Guevara based these instrumentos on the fourth figure of Ramon Llull’s Art and that this adaptation is linked to the work of a Lullist circle with royal sponsorship. Guevara’s role as preceptor and, thus, supervisor of the education of the infantas Isabel and Catalina shows that Philip II’s Lullism had both public and private implications that the king assumed as a natural part of his interest in the Art. The creation of the instruments in the form of wheels in Guevara’s primer elucidates how early modern authors transformed a medieval tool of knowledge through conceptual debate and material alterations.
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Keywords: Lullism; Pedagogical technologies; game; infantas; wheels

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Publication date: July 2, 2020

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