Current projects

Routledge Companion to the Hispanic Enlightenment

I, along with my colleagues Mónica Bolufer and Catherine Jaffe, have recently begun a project, the Routledge Companion to the Hispanic Enlightenment, as part of the series  Routledge Companions to Hispanic and Latin American Studies, directed by Professor Brad Epps (University of Cambridge) and Professor Javier Muñoz-Basols (University of Oxford).

Below is part of our proposal, recently accepted by Routledge:

Routledge Companion to the Hispanic Enlightenment

Editors: Mónica Bolufer Peruga (Universitat de València), Catherine M. Jaffe (Texas State University) and Elizabeth Franklin Lewis (University of Mary Washington)

In the spirit of the overarching goals for the series The Routledge Companions to Hispanic and Latin American Studies to gather self-reflective, critically aware volumes presenting contemporary debates in the field, we propose an interdisciplinary volume that will reflect the current status of Hispanic Enlightenment studies. Building upon important histories of the Hispanic Enlightenment from Juan Luis Alborg, Jean Sarrailh, Richard Herr, Nigel Glendinning, René Andioc, Antonio Mestre and more recently by Joaquín Alvarez Barrientos and Jesús Astigarraga, this volume will present essays from experts in diverse disciplines including literature, art history, music history, as well as social, cultural, scientific, economic, and political history. Unlike previous volumes, this collection will also bring together scholars working in diverse areas of the world including Spain, the United States, the United Kingdom, Latin America, and Europe.  Departing from the idea that the Enlightenment represented a crucial historical and cultural moment in both Spain and Latin America, the essays in this volume will all address the idea of the existence of a distinctive Hispanic Enlightenment.

For the purposes of this volume, we will consider the Enlightenment broadly as a transnational, diverse movement of the long eighteenth century distinguished by a set of ideals and also communicative practices that were both shared and local, adapted through cultural transfer and affected by specific contexts. By showing the innovative and exciting new directions of recent research in eighteenth-century Hispanic studies, we seek to challenge commonplace assumptions about the Enlightenment in Spain and Latin America held by both scholars of the northern European Enlightenment as well as within Hispanic Studies: that Spain and Latin America lacked an Enlightenment, that the Enlightenment arrived late and was short-lived, or that is was merely imitative. Within Hispanism we challenge the scholarly tradition that has assumed that there was no original literary, philosophical, political, or scientific production in eighteenth-century Spain or Latin America. Many of these ideas stem from nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholars who interpreted the eighteenth century as an insignificant cultural anomaly sandwiched between Spain’s great Golden Age of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the nineteenth century’s period of nation-building reflected in the Romantic and Realist movements. Similarly, the eighteenth century in Latin American studies has often been overlooked by scholars who focus either on the earlier colonial age or on the modern postcolonial period. In British and American universities the Hispanic eighteenth century is still rarely taught. Additionally, due to the traditional geographic divisions of the disciplines, when it is taught scholars tend to focus either on Spain or on Latin America rather than on transatlantic connections of the Hispanic Enlightenment.

However, in the past few decades, researchers in diverse fields have taken an interest in the Hispanic Enlightenment, taking into account the impact of the period’s social, political, economic, cultural and aesthetic reforms on either side of the Atlantic. They have challenged more narrow definitions that would deny the existence of a Catholic Enlightenment, and have also explored concepts of chronology and the long eighteenth century to counter notions of a late, short-lived, and therefore unimportant  Enlightenment in Spain and its colonies. Additionally, recent theoretical approaches in fields from gender studies to critical race theory and science history have countered traditional narratives of the Enlightenment in Spain and Latin America. We would like to reflect these critical developments in this volume and contribute to a reassessment of the relation of the Hispanic Enlightenment to the global Enlightenment, as well as of its role in the development of modernity in the transatlantic Hispanic world.

We are in the midst of receiving essays based on previously accepted proposals by scholars from Spain, the US, Latin America, and the UK and representing a variety of disciplines and approaches to the Hispanic Enlightenment. We hope to have the volume completed in 2018.

Undergraduate Research Team

Since the spring semester of 2011, I have been working with an undergraduate research team to develop a large digital project titled “Women and Charity in Spain 1786-1941.”  Work on this project has been supported through a UMW’s Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation teaching fellowship in the fall of 2010, a UMW faculty research development grant for the summer of 2011, another UMW faculty research development grant for the fall of 2012, and UMW undergraduate research grants for student travel in May of 2011 and 2012.  The project, still under development. is a digital exhibition tracing women’s charity from the late Enlightenment period  through the beginnings of the Franco dictatorship.  The project’s three parts–“Sentiment and Social Action: Women’s Charity in Enlightenment Spain,” “Angels and Activits: Nineteenth-Century Women’s Charity,” and “Women’s Rights, Social Service and Charity in Spain 1931-1941”–display through text and image the trajectory of women’s charitable work .   Each source exhibited is introduced by a brief encyclopedia-type article researched and written by students. There is also a searchable database of information gathered by the research team.

May 2011 089In the spring semester of 2011, I began work with my first research team of 4 sophomores.  We worked together during the semester on materials I had already collected for the section on the eighteenth century.  Then in May, faculty research grant funds for myself, and with undergraduate research grants from Dean Richard Finkelstein for the students, we were able to travel to Spain to consult the journal La Voz de la Caridad by Concepción Arenal, published from 1870-1884.  We went through all the holdings of the library of the journal (over 300 issues!), something I would never have been able to do by myself in 10 days.  Each student and I took a volume of issues at a time, catalogued the contents (because there was no table of contents to most of them), skimmed the articles and noted the ones of interest for our study, and then went over their findings with me so we could decide what copies to order.  In the Fall semester 2011 our team  created a searchable data base of the article titles and authors from La Voz de la CaridadMadrid 2012 005In the spring semester of 2012, I started with a new research team of 2 sophomores and 2 freshmen, which began work that semester on the third section of our study. Using resources from the Biblioteca Nacional’s digital periodical repository, the Hemeroteca Digital, the team began researching and collecting data on period of the Second Republic and Spanish Civil War, and especially the progressive women’s journal Mundo femenino.  In May we traveled again to  Madrid, with funds from Dean Finkelstein for the students, to work in the Biblioteca Nacional. We read and catalogued a large portion of two women’s journals not available digitally–“Y” and “Medina,” both published by the fascist women’s group Sección Femenina de la Falange.    In the fall of 2012 we worked on the material gathered in Madrid, and on the website itself, which is still in preparation. I hope to get one more small group of students to help me edit the site and tie up loose ends, as well as get permissions to display the material collected at the BN. If all goes well, the site should be public sometime later this year!