UK Emeritus Professor Named to Spanish Royal Academy

John Jay Allen, emeritus professor of the University of Kentucky’s Department of Hispanic Studies, has been made a corresponding member of the Spanish Royal Academy of the Language (Real Academia Española de la Lengua), one of the highest academic honors in the Spanish-speaking world.

Allen taught in the UK College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Hispanic Studies (formerly Department of Spanish and Italian) from 1983 to 1999 and as emeritus professor since 2000.

Allen´s accomplishments are quite numerous, but the most salient are: National Endowement for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship for Independent Research, 1981-82; NEH Summer Seminar for College Teachers, 1989; Residential Fellowship to the National Humanities Center, North Carolina, 1989-90; UK's Albert D. and Elizabeth H. Kirwan Memorial Prize; and an honorary doctor of letters from Middlebury College, 2004. He has been honored with two journal homages in the  Bulletin of the Comediantes 53.1 (2001) and Cervantes 23.1 (2003), and one book, “Corónente tus hazañas: Studies in Honor of John Jay Allen,” edited by Michael J. McGrath and published by Juan de la Cuesta Press (2005).

Allen was a visiting professor at the Reijsuniversiteit te Utrecht in The Netherlands in 1977, Visiting Mellon Professor at the University of Pittsburgh in 1982, and visiting professor at Middlebury College in 2004. In addition, he was an honorary fellow for the Hispanic Society of America; founding editor of Cervantes, bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America (1979-85); and president of the Cervantes Society of America (1995-97). In 1989 the City Hall of Alcalá de Henares, Cervantes´ birthplace, appointed him member of the Commission on the Preservation and Reconstruction of the Teatro Cervantes to advise the Spanish government on matters of conservation.

His publications deal with two main fields of scholarship: Cervantes’ masterpiece, “Don Quijote,” and the archaeology of playhouses in Europe in the early modern period, from the late-sixteen16th to the early-18th centuries. Allen has authored major studies on “Don Quijote," "Don Quixote: Hero or Fool?” and “Don Quijote: Hero or Fool? Part II,” which were merged and published in 2008 as "Don Quixote: Hero or Fool? Remixed"; and "Don Quijote en el arte y pensamiento de Occidente," co-authored with Patricia S. Finch in 2004.

Allen is also responsible for the standard edition of “Don Quijote,” used by universities and centers of higher learning throughout the world. This publication has over 26 revised and updated editions. In a parallel fashion, his work on Spanish theaters of the Golden Age has earned him international renown. His books on the subject include two major studies: "The Reconstruction of a Spanish Golden Age Playhouse. El Corral del Príncipe, 1583-1744" (1983); "Los teatros comerciales del siglo XVII y la escenificación de la comedia," co-authored with José María Ruano de la Haza (1994); and one scholarly edition of Pedro Calderón de la Barca´s "El gran teatro del mundo" (1997). In addition, between 1962 and 2008, he published some four dozen articles, primarily on Golden Age poetry, prose and drama in top-drawer venues such as Modern Language Notes, Hispanic Review, Journal of Hispanic Philology, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, Anales Cervantinos, Ínsula, Nueva Revista de Filología Hispánica, Symposium, Revista Hispánica Moderna, Edad de Oro and Comparative Literature Studies, among others.

Far from being limited to scholarly publications and lectures, Allen’s accomplishments include interesting archaeological research. For instance, a model of the theater Corral del Príncipe (Madrid, 1583-1744), based upon his research design and commissioned by the Teatro Español, was placed on exhibit in the Museo Municipal de Madrid in 1986. It is now on permanent display in the Museo Nacional del Teatro in Almagro, Spain. Allen´s own model was on display in the Royal Castle, Warsaw, from July through October 2003, as part of the exhibit "Teatro y fiestas en las tierras europeas de los Austrias," directed by José María Díez Borque of the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain. In addition to serving as consultant for the redesign of the Casa de Cervantes in Alcalá de Henares, 2000-2001, his expertise was requested for the archival project titled "20 documentos cervantinos en el Archivo Histórico de Protocolos de Madrid," for which he also wrote the prologue (2001).

Allen has been invited to give lectures on Cervantes and on Spanish theater at more than two dozen colleges and universities in this country, including the annual Cervantes Lecture at Fordham University (1978), the annual Raimundo Lida Lecture at Harvard University (1987), and the Donald Dietz Keystone Address at the annual meeting of the Association for Hispanic Classical Theater in El Paso, Texas, 2006. The list of invited lectures, as his curriculum vitae attests, is vertiginous and impossible to summarize.

Allen directed many dissertations and his superb teaching left an indelible mark on his students. He also rendered service to UK as chairman of the department. Even though he has been retired for several years now, Allen keeps up his productivity in writing and lecturing, with occasional teaching. 


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