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.