Special Issue: Hispanic Institute Centennial
Volume 74.1 April 2021
The year 2020 marked the centennial of the Hispanic Institute at Columbia University, which was also the starting point of Revista Hispánica Moderna. Looking back revealed not only the history of a cultural institution but also the genealogy of an entire discipline.
Stories and Politics of Hispanism
In 1915, just one year before Federico de Onís arrived in New York after accepting an appointment as professor at Columbia University with the mission to build a program for the teaching of Spanish language and culture—and five years before he founded the Instituto de las Españas—he was writing some of the first film criticism in Spain. He had accepted an offer by his friend Ortega y Gasset to publish periodically about the new medium in España, his new weekly magazine.
The Pittsburgh Model and Other Thoughts on the Field (Hispanism/Latin Americanism)
Between 1980 and 1990 the department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures at the university shifted its graduate program from one centered on peninsular Hispanism and Hispanic linguistics to one centered on Latinamercanism. My own work underwent a similar shift. From Góngora to Testimonio so to speak. The talk outlines some of the issues involved, which were initially pragmatic but then became theoretical and political. Is a unified narrative of Hispanic civilization such as Carlos Fuentes offered in The Buried Mirror still possible, perhaps today under the rubric of a Global Hispanism? The talk argues that it is not, that Hispanism and Latinamericanism are irreconcilable.
The Locations and Relocations of Lusophone Studies
This article assesses the current field of Lusophone studies in the north American academy and its relation to Portuguese, Iberian, and Luso-Brazilian studies. It considers some of the disciplinary politics of the field's, and how Lusophone studies has a broad remit that encompasses both Eurocentric studies and the postcolonial cultures related to the former Portuguese empire as well as diasporic movements. The concept of the Portuguese language abroad as a basis for communal identity (or lusofonia), a term that carries cultural and political weight as well as linguistic identity, enters into the critical assessment as one of the concepts that might provide for a more expanded and inclusive arena of Portuguese-based identity apart from the traditional understandings of a "standard" form of the Portuguese language, such as the case with contemporary African forms of expression. The article also traces the engagement, collaborations, and contributions of Lusophone studies with and to other humanities disciplines such as LGBTQ studies, women's/feminist studies, and postcolonial/diasporic studies which focus on Africa, Asia, and the U.S./Canada. The article provides a view of how Lusophone studies as a field has moved from a more traditional practice of literary/historical studies to accompany more contemporary and newer lines of academic inquiry, and how these directions often work against an inherent colonialism in earlier assumptions and practices informing the discipline.
Undisciplined Objects: Queer Women's Archives
Claudia Cabello Hutt
This essay reflects on the seeming impossibility of Global South area studies in its intersection with gender/queer studies geographically and epistemologically based in the North from the vantage point of queer archives and the study of queer networks of women writers, artists, and intellectuals of the first half of the twentieth century. It suggests that the process of gathering and theorizing an unstable, transnational, largely Latin American queer archive that resists full legibility becomes an opportunity to think about the geopolitics of knowledge, methodologies, disciplines, and activism. Queer Latin American archives, when approached from situated decolonial, feminist, and queer theories and methodologies, offer an encounter with the radical illegibility of queer desire, bodies, ways of living, eroticism, and relationships. The voices and embodiments in these archives contribute to the history of non-heteronormative imaginations and to the genealogies of sexual and gender dissidence essential to queer theories and histories in the Global South.
En la cima más alta de Nueva York: Federico de Onís, frontera y mercado
"En la cima más alta de Manhattan". Borders, the Market, and Onís's Hispanism In one of the several articles he devoted to discuss his concept of Hispanism, Federico de Onís represented Columbia as strategic location from which to rebuilt what he called "a Spain without Spain". Located between Riverside Drive and Broadway, the university would be the place to push forward the liberal political and cultural agenda brought to an end by the outbreak of the Civil War; furthermore, it would allow to develop new transnational economic alliances between Spain, Latin America and the United States. In this article, I will focus on this and other locations that Onís conceptualized as "border" sites, paying particular attention to the consequences that such a concept had for the constitution of Hispanism as a discipline. Key concept in Onís, the border is in his work the privileged location where Spain constituted itself as a transhistorical entity, particularly in times of imperial expansionism through warfare and commerce. A kind of parallel version of the Manifest Destiny doctrine, Onís's formulation is inextricably linked to the emergence of Pan Americanism, and like it, unthinkable outside the new place of Latin America in the post-1898 global networks.
Scholars, Spies, and Other Agents: US Hispanism and the State
The relationship between scholars and modern states is often more complex than we tend to assume, and this complexity especially affects academic experts who work in, or are citizens of, nation-states other than those that they study-including scholars who study Spain from elsewhere. If they are lucky, they receive double the state support and recognition. More often, they are caught between competing loyalties or targeted for surveillance and harassment from one or both sides. Modern nation-states have tended to consider the academic fields that study their own history and culture as a potential generator of status and prestige and, therefore, as extensions of their foreign policy and even a kind of shadow diplomacy. These same nation-states also crave scholarly knowledge about other nations, mobilizing scholars less as shadow diplomats than as shadow spies. This essay looks at the relationship of some prominent United-States-based Hispanists with the American and Spanish state between the 1920s and the present. Although the notion that scholars' work should serve the interests of their nation-state is not as prevalent today as it was in the mid-twentieth century, the state continues to exert influence of the shape and evolution of the scholarly study of Spain.
Reinventing Medieval Iberian Studies
Emily C. Francomano
When I was invited by my colleagues at the Hispanic Institute to participate in this centenary celebration, I accepted with delight and then felt almost immediate trepidation at the remit: a critical reappraisal of my field of expertise, one that is diachronic in nature and also discusses the field's relationship to Hispanism more broadly. What, I thought, is my field? (or perhaps the emphasis should be on the personal pronoun: what is my field?). As much recent writing on the practice of medieval studies has suggested, it is a field (or assemblage of fields) determined by personal identities and desires.
Left Standing in a Field of Texts
With attention to the decade of the 1960s, when I entered graduate school, I address the disciplinary changes in the field of Hispanic Studies in universities of the United States and trace the shift from a dominant focus on Hispanic literature guided by philology and stylistics to the opening of a Latin Americanism grounded in cultural questions of politics, race, and decolonization. Stimulated at first by an interest in the Cuban revolution along with the expansion of critical approaches that embraced psychoanalysis, semiotics, structuralism, and Marxist theory, Hispanic Studies were slowly reconfigured notwithstanding a battle within the field that was littered by invective and protest. The curriculum changed with an opening of the canon and, alongside peninsular studies, Latin Americanism began to take a place at the departmental table. Gender studies, chicano-latino studies, and post-colonial theory were still a decade away, but the clarion call for change was clearly heard. Courses on theory, ideology, and the politics of the text attracted eager attention and began to displace the kinds of textual criticism often identified with those trained in philology and stylistics. Between the rise of the new and a faltering defense of tradition, Departments of Spanish and Portuguese throughout the country reconsidered business as usual; everything from course requirements to graduate exams and dissertation topics was subject to reevaluation. The field of Hispanic Studies showed a deeply divided discipline: those who took flight with the squall of modernization challenged those who tenaciously upheld long-admired models of study. Change was on the way although, well into the twenty-first century, a new philology and a focus on material culture acknowledge the considerable legacy that once defined us.
This essay sets the politically circumspect response to the Spanish Civil War embraced professionally by Federico de Onís, as well as institutionally by the Casa de las Españas, which Onís directed, against the backdrop of emphatic, vocal opposition from the New York Hispanic community. By analyzing a series of open letters between Onís and Hispanic activists published in the New York Spanish-language Leftist daily La Voz (1937-39) and depictions of Onís and the Casa de las Españas that circulated in the city's antifascist print culture, such as the poetry collection Bombas de Mano (1938), this essay demonstrates the growing divide between the city's Hispanics, who were overwhelmingly working-class and committed antifascists, and the city's Hispanists, such as Onís, who refrained from public political activism, in favor of advancing a cultural agenda that purportedly transcended the politics of the time. Ultimately, as the essay argues, this schism, which was anchored in competing visions of the role of culture and its relation to the political terrain, provides early, constitutive underpinnings to the institutional divide between the fields of Hispanism and what would later become U.S. Latino Studies.
For the sake of aesthetically round dates, let us convene on the year 2000 as ab quo date for the rise of Iberian Studies as a paradigm intended to replace traditional Spanish studies. Two decades and at least one reaction later, the results are mixed. In many schools and among numerous scholars, the term "Iberian" was eagerly adopted, and even the name "Iberia" is sometimes employed as if it were a new political entity. Unfortunately the nominal change, where it occurred, remained without consequence, since most departments remain committed the post-imperial, or postcolonial, worldview, banking on the demographic extension of the Spanish language rather than on the intellectual appeal of its expressions. This is not a sound basis for a discipline in an age of rapid change and multiple dissolutions, and the syncretic approach to social events that seems to be the current attempt to regain relevance runs the risk of sinking the discipline into irrelevance.
The State of a Field in Five Books
IGNACIO SÁNCHEZ PRADO. Strategic Occidentalism: On Mexican Fiction, the Neoliberal Book Market, and the Question of World Literature. Northwestern UP, 2018.
ADAM SHELLHORSE. Anti-Literature: The Politics and Limits of Representation in Modern Brazil and Argentina. U of Pittsburgh P, 2017.
SARAH TOWNSEND. The Unfinished Art of Theater: Avant-Garde Intellectuals in Mexico and Brazil. Northwestern UP, 2018.
Life Embodied: The Promise of Vital Force in Spanish Modernity by Nicolás Fernández-medina
The Spanish Craze: America's Fascination with the Hispanic World, 1779–1939 by Richard L. Kagan
Vernacular Latin Americanisms: War, the Market, and the Making of a Discipline by Fernando Degiovanni
The Codex Mexicanus: A Guide to Life in Late Sixteenth-Century New Spain by Lori Boornazian Diel
Barbara E. Mundy
Slavery Unseen: Sex, Power, and Violence in Brazilian History by Lamonte Aidoo
Emanuelle K. F. Oliveira-Monte
The Spirit of Hispanism: Commerce, Culture, and Identity across the Atlantic, 1875–1936 by Diana Arbaiza