Margot Versteeg

Margot Versteeg
  • Department Chair
  • Professor
  • College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Spanish & Portuguese

Contact Info

Office Phone:
Department Phone:
Wescoe Hall, room #2616
Wescoe Hall, room #2650A
Bailey Hall, room #308B


As a native of The Netherlands, I studied Translation Studies and Hispanic Literature at the University of Amsterdam and received my Ph.D. from the University of Groningen. My area of specialization is contemporary peninsular Spanish cultural studies, focusing mainly on the 19th and early 20th century. Before I came to KU in 2004, I taught at the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University in The Netherlands. I am currently the Chair of KU’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese. I previously directed KU’s Humanities Program.


Over the years I have developed a passion for the Hispanic 19th and early 20th centuries. It´s a time when everything is in flux. Just think of all the profound changes brought about by industrialization, decolonialization,  modernization, new ways of transportation, urban growth, circulation of newspapers and magazines, leisure industry, mass culture… And a literature that tries to make sense of all these changes…. Nowadays familiar concepts – such as social justice, women’s rights, gender violence, and migration – are equally relevant in this period.

My current book project, Divas and Chorus Girls: Women, Art and Commerce in nineteenth and early-twentieth-century Spain, focuses on the figure of the female performing artist. The cultural production of 19th and early 20th century Spain is obsessed with dancers, singers, and other female performers. In Spanish fiction, poems, (auto)biographical writings, and plays produced between 1845 and 1936 by both male and female authors, numerous often very talented women sing, dance, and act. Divas and Chorus Girls aims to theorize the stories of these fictionalized women within a larger story, a tradition of female performance artists as represented in Spain’s long 19th century. A series of interconnected discourses are projected on the bodies of these female performers, such as gender ideology and ideas about feminine self-realization and women’s participation in celebrity culture. But female performance is also a crucible for a whole range of larger questions raised by the processes of social and cultural change that we associate with modernity. These concerns, that are the focal point of my book, are related to art and commerce, body, and nation, to mention only a few. And that’s not surprising: female performers catered to an emerging mass culture market, developed marketing strategies, and they used their bodies to negotiate ethnic, racial, and national identities as they participated in modernity’s mobility and circulated in transnational networks.

My fascination with the 19th and early 20th centuries has resulted in three books and two co-edited volumes

  • De fusiladores y morcilleros: el discurso cómico del género chico, Rodopi 2000);
  • Jornaleros de la pluma (Iberoamericana/Vervuert 2011);
  • Propuestas para (re)construir una nación: el teatro de Emilia Pardo Bazán (Purdue UP, 2019);
  • Approaches to Teaching the Writings of Emilia Pardo Bazán (MLA 2017, with Susan Walter);
  • Imagined Truths: Realism in Modern Spanish Literature and Culture (University of Toronto Press 2019, with Mary Coffey).

I have published numerous book chapters and scholarly articles on 19th and early-20th century literature and culture in, among others: Anales Galdosianos, Romance Quarterly, Gestos, España Contemporánea, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Hispania, Journal of Iberian and Latinamerican Studies, ALEC, Hecho teatral, and Siglo Diecinueve.

Research interests:

  • 19th and early-20th century Spanish Peninsular Cultural Studies
  • Cultural and Literary theory
  • Theater/performance/dance
  • Periodical studies
  • Gender Studies


Teaching interests:

  • 19th and early 20th Spanish Peninsular Cultural Studies
  • Cultural and Literary theory
  • Realism
  • Performance
  • Trauma and Memory of the Spanish Civil War

Selected Publications

Books and Edited Volumes

(2019) Propuestas para (re)construir una nación: el teatro de Emilia Pardo Bazán. West Lafayette: Purdue UP.

(2019) Imagined Truths. Realism in Modern Spanish Literature and Culture. Co-edited with Mary Coffey. Toronto: Toronto UP.

(2017) MLA Approaches to World Literature. Approaches to Teaching the Works of Emilia Pardo Bazán. Edited with Susan Walter. New York: MLA.

(2011) Jornaleros de la pluma: la (re)definición del papel del escritor-periodista en la revista Madrid Cómico. Madrid: Iberoamericana/Vervuert.

(2000) De fusiladores y morcilleros. El discurso cómico del género chico. Amsterdam-Atlanta: Editions Rodopi.

Scholarly Articles and Book Chapters

(2022) “Saving the Nation? Amor y ciencia versus Las raíces.” Anales Galdosianos 57. 103-124.

(2021) “Between Sublime Performance and Filthy Lucre: The Voice of Serafina Gorgheggi” in Su único hijo by Leopoldo Alas. Dissonances of Modernity. Music and Literature in Spanish Culture 1700-2000, edited by Irene Gómez-Castellano and Aurélie Vialette. Chapel Hill: NCSRLL. 263-78.

(2020) “Ir por lana… Migración laboral femenina en un cuento de Pereda.” Siglo Diecinueve 26. 41-60.

(2019) “Exportando ‘marginalidad:’ Consuelo Tamayo Hernández, ‘la Tortajada’ (1867-1957).” Romance Quarterly 66.1. 30-42.

(2019) “No Place for Us: Stigmatization and Exclusion in ‘Dúo de la tos’ by Leopoldo Alas (Clarín).” Literatura y Medicina en España. Teoría y praxis (1800-1930), edited by Jorge Avilés Diz and José Manuel Goñi Pérez. Madrid: Ediciones de la Torre. 173-92.

(2019) “A Most Promising Girl”: Gender and Artistic Future in Emilia Pardo Bazán’s La dama joven.” Modern Spanish Women as Agents of Change: Essays in Honor of Maryellen Bieder, edited by Jennifer Smith. Lewisburg: Bucknell. 126-144.

(2014) “Uno de los principales absurdos de nuestra edad.” Galdós sobre Adelina Patti y la condición del escritor. ALEC, 39.1. 13-32.

(2013) “El crítico como héroe: el caso de de Clarín.” Perfiles de heroísmo en la literatura hispánica de entresiglos, edited by Denise Dupont and Luis Álvarez Castro. Valladolid: Ediciones Verdelís. 91-106.

(2012) “Amores que matan: violencia, confesión y horror en Verdad (1906) de Emilia Pardo Bazán.” Siglo XIX, 18. 253-275.

(2012) “Mujer, comercio y arte en Troteras y danzaderas de Ramón Pérez de Ayala. Moenia 18. 307-320.

(2010) “Gender-based Violence in the Short Fiction of Emilia Pardo Bazán.” Au Naturel. Re-reading Hispanic Naturalisms, edited by J. P. Spicer-Escalante and Lara B. Anderson, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 135-52.

(2008) “‘Una mujer como las demás.’ El deseo de maternidad en cinco cuentos de Emilia Pardo Bazán.” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies 14.1. 39-50.