Tess Clifton, J.M. Stuart Fellow

photograph of Tess Clifton J.M stuart fellow at the John Carter brown library

Tess Clifton, J.M. Stuart Fellow, first encountered Los sirgueros de la Virgen sin original pecado (1620) while conducting research for her master's degree during her second year at Brown. This item is the first American novel and the only remaining copy of the text is at the JCB. Now a sixth-year PhD candidate in Hispanic Studies, Clifton is writing her dissertation on the only two pastoral novels written in the colonial Americas - Francisco Bramón's Los sirgueros and Bernardo de Balbuena’s Siglo de oro en las selves de Erífile (1608) - in the context of New Spain and against the European cultural and intellectual tradition.

Clifton attests that pastoral fiction offers a fascinating glimpse into the intellectual and aesthetic concerns of New Spain's educated elite. She says, "I was first drawn to the topic because of the JCB's incredible collection, and now, as the J.M. Stuart fellow, I also have the privilege of working closely with the Library's community of scholars. Thanks to the expertise of staff and fellows, I've been able to explore both the material history that shaped these two pastoral novels and their legacy in later colonial literature."