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Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center

Student-Led Activities

Think Tank

Articles about recent Levitt Center Think Tanks.


Friday, 2/24
The Goodness of Evil: Shekhinah, Lilith and Kabbalah in La Celestina
Presented By: Anjela Mescall

Over the past twenty years, scholarship on “difference” and early Catholic Spain has begun to complicate more traditional studies of Spanish literature by showing how “others”-- like Jews and Muslims- were involved in the early literary history of Spain. Anjela Mescall's discussion focused on ways in which the work of Spanish author Fernando de Rojas resonates with Kabbalistic thought regarding the importance of evil, sin, and suffering. When his text La Celestina is placed in dialogue with Shekhinah (the Zoharic divine feminine) and Lilith (her darker counterpart), Rojas instructs believers in the goodness of evil. Creating this dialogue helps highlight the problem of viewing Spanish texts as devoid of Muslim and Jewish influences or as inspired only by classical Greek, Roman and medieval Italian sources.   Using fabulous details from Bosch's famous painting Garden of Earthly Delights, Mescall discussed metaphors in the text that describe the intertwining of goodness and evil (such as a rose surrounded by thorns, and gold's dross), how the author used the idea of temptation as purification (and immersion in sin as leading to purification), and in particular, how the title character represents a meditation on the importance of evil for the redemption of the world.