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Title:From Enlightenment to Romanticism: Early American travel writers on Spain
Author(s):Gifra-Adroher, Pere
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Baym, Nina
Department / Program:History, United States
Literature, American
Discipline:History, United States
Literature, American
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, United States
Literature, American
Abstract:This study maps out a discourse about Spain that, disseminated by travel writings, emerged and developed in the United States between the Revolutionary War and the first three decades of the nineteenth century. Specifically, it analyzes the shift from a politically-centered to a spiritually- or aesthetically-based perception of Spain whereby American readers ceased to envision that country as eerie and forbidding, and began to see it as almost other-worldly and seductive.
The first American travel writings on Spain, using an encyclopedic, fact-gathering discourse, conveyed above all factual information. The journals and letters of diplomatic travelers like John Adams, James Monroe, and John Jay for the first time offered to a small readership a genuinely American view of a country that during the colonial period they had been accustomed to seeing mostly through British eyes. Mordecai Manuel Noah, George Ticknor, and Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, the indirect successors of these diplomatic travelers, produced a similarly didactic yet more dogmatic and homiletic representation of Spain during the first two decades of the nineteenth century. Their travel writings informed and edified their republican readership by means of a discourse that, charged with a strong Protestant and republican bias, decried the Roman Catholicism and royal despotism of Spain that they regarded as the principal causes of degradation under Ferdinand VII. Noah's Travels in England, France, Spain, and the Barbary States (1829) and Ticknor's letters and journals employ the rhetoric of the rational Enlightenment to present Spain as a disagreeable remainder of what once had been a powerful nation. Mackenzie's A Year in Spain. By A Young American (1829, rev. ed. 1836) adopt s a quasi-Painesque stance typical of the revolutionary Enlightenment to publicize a graphically realistic and overtly politicized view of Spain.
Washington Irving's The Alhambra (1832) and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Outre-Mer (1833-34) rejected the kind of rational and political approach to Spain of the former Enlightenment writers in favor of a more subjective, prettified, and nostalgic image of the peninsula. Both travel books moved away from the construction of Spain as a male domain as well as from the notion of the peninsular voyage as a masculine activity. They offered, instead, a feminized view of Spain where desire constituted literally the main focus of the traveler's experiences. Moreover, they did not represent Spain as an arena of struggle between despotism and constitutionalism, nor as a historical lesson on the fall of powerful empires. Spain became a spiritual domain for Longfellow, and a grandiose past closely connected with an ethnographic primitivistic present for Irving.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Gifra-Adroher, Pere
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9522111
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9522111

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