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Steven Wagschal

Professor Spanish and Portuguese
Department Chair Spanish and Portuguese
Office: Global and International Studies Building 2176
Phone: (812) 855-1623

See also: Professor Wagschal's homepage


  • Ph.D., Columbia University, 1999
  • M.A., Columbia Universtiy, 1992
  • B.A., Concordia University, 1991


  • ASPP Publication Grant for Minding Animals in the Old and New Worlds from the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (2017)
  • Institute for Advanced Study, Collaborative Fellowship Award (Spring 2016)
  • Faculty Exchange Program at the University of Seville, Spain (November, 2015)
  • College of Arts and Humanities Institute (CAHI) grant for the project “Sensorial Worlds: Iberian Empires and The Other Senses (1250-1650)" (2012-13)
  • Faculty Exchange Program at the University of Seville, Spain (Summer 2011)
  • College Arts and Humanities Institute (CAHI) research fellowship (Teaching release, Fall 2011)
  • Institute for Advanced Study, Remak New Knowledge Center Seminar Participant (2010-11)

Professional Experience

  • SPAN 803: Graduate Independent Study: The novellas of María de Zayas
  • SPAN 708: Graduate Seminar: Cervantes' Brain: Intention, Interpretation and Don Quixote
  • SPAN 708: Graduate Seminar Madness in Early Modern Spain
  • SPAN 695/495: Plastic Verses: Ekphrasis and Art in Early Modern Spain
  • SPAN 628: Cervantes, Cognition and the Senses
  • SPAN 628: Reading and the Rise of Leisure in Early Modernity
  • SPAN 628: Cervantes and the Literature of Madness
  • SPAN 528: Spanish Literature of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
  • SPAN 512: Theory and Criticism
  • SPAN 450: Don Quixote

Research Interests

Early Modern/Golden Age prose, poetry and theater, Cognitive and Philosophical Approaches to Literature, Animal Studies, Literature, the Emotions and the Senses, Art and Literature

My main area of research is early modern Spanish literature and culture, and specifically, the analysis of textual expressions of mental phenomena, including emotional experience (disgust and jealousy), sensory perception (sight, taste and smell), and non-human animal cognition (emotions, sensations, theory of mind, phenomenal consciousness, etc.). As a humanities scholar, I examine specific cultural products created by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literary authors including Cervantes, Calderón, De Zayas, and Garcilaso; non-fiction writers such as Martínez Espinar and Fernández de Oviedo; and visual artists such as Velázquez and De Gheyn. My most recent monograph, Minding Animals in the Old and New Worlds (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018) pushes at the intersections of literary-cultural studies, cognitive science and animal studies, exploring the understanding of non-human animals in the Iberian world, from the Middle Ages through the Early Modern period in different contexts and through various modes of discursive writing.

I am interested in the beliefs that people have held about the cognitive faculties of non-human animals and I evaluate to what extent these beliefs fall in line with current scientific understanding of these faculties in animals. Since ideas about suffering are inextricably tied up with human morality, a lack of appreciation for animal suffering tends to lessen the sense of moral responsibility humans have towards specific individuals or groups of animals. In other recent research, I explore the cognition of human literary characters.