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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Jessica Hagley

Jessica Hagley

Jessica Hagley


Clare College

I graduated with a First-Class BA (Hons) degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from University College London, during which I spent a year abroad in Valencia, teaching Spanish and English in a number of Spanish schools. After completing my undergraduate degree, I moved to Cambridge to carry out an MPhil in European, Latin American and Comparative Literatures and Cultures (passed with Distinction), funded by the Santander Hispanic and Lusophone MPhil Scholarship. I am currently pursuing a PhD in Spanish, funded by the AHRC-Mallinson Studentship.


My doctoral research investigates the role of ‘rhetoric’ in the Spanish American epic poetry of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, exploring the ways in which colonial epic poets utilised rhetorical devices to actively engage with and contribute to the polemical debates regarding the rights of conquest and the ethics of colonisation that were at the forefront of the early modern period. This corpus of narrative poetry offers a complex and, to a great extent, contradictory range of ideological positions, with poets putting pen to paper to tell the tale of conquest in their own persuasive terms. My research thus explores the means by which these poets, far from wishing to provide a faithful vision of conquest, manipulated historical ‘Truth’ in order to construct a compelling defence and/or condemnation of conquest and imperial expansion during a period of intense transition and exchange, and how, in doing so, sought to inform political, ethical, and social practices through their writings. Of particular importance to my study are the epic construction of the Spanish conquistador and his Amerindian counterpart; early modern theories of Just War; the dichotomy of civilisation and barbarism; and the poems’ engagement with religious discourse and the extirpation of idolatry.

Supervised by:

Dr Rodrigo Cacho

Scholarships / Prizes:

AHRC-Mallinson Studentship (Cambridge, 2018)

Honorary Vice-Chancellor’s Award (Cambridge, 2018)

Santander Hispanic and Lusophone MPhil Scholarship (Cambridge, 2017)

Alcalá Galiano Sessional Prize (London, 2016)

Dean’s List – Faculty of Arts and Humanities (London, 2016)

AA Parker Sessional Prize (London, 2014)

Personal website