Spectacle and Topophilia
Reading Early Modern and Postmodern Hispanic Cultures
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Vanderbilt University Press
Series: Hispanic Issues
Table of Contents
Introduction: Modern Scenes/Modern Sceneries
The modern secularization or “disenchantment” of the social sphere that accompanies the rise of capitalism has been chronicled in classic works of social and cultural theory going back to Max Weber’s foundational treatise The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904). More recently, social historians have traced the roots of the economic and sociopolitical dynamics that we...
I. Foundational Landscapes
1. Monumental Landscapes in the Society of the Spectacle: From Fuenteovejuna to New York
The 1980 Radio Televisión Española (RTVE) production of Lope de Vega’s classic drama Fuenteovejuna (1619) concludes with a suggestive visual montage that brings the landscape into the scene in spectacular fashion: the stone walls of the royal palace of Fernando and Isabel slowly open up and then fade away to reveal a panoramic view of the Castilian countryside. The significance...
2. "Granada": Race and Place in Early Modern Spain
On January 1, 1492, Fernando and Isabel, the “Catholic Monarchs,” took possession of the Kingdom of Granada, until then a Muslim country, the last remnant of Al-Andalus. In 1610, their great-grandson Philip III expelled the descendants of its inhabitants, the Granadine Moriscos. Thus the full integration of this physical space as part of Spain and, parallel to it, the exclusion of...
3. Agi Morato's Garden as Heterotopian Place in Cervantes's Los banos de Argel
Human places are sites of competing memories linked to physical and symbolic systems of spatialization. Even the most intimately familiar sense of the here and there is dependent on a complex network of symbolic recognition that cannot be divorced from the dynamics of power (Lefebvre). I take these notions as my starting point as I examine Cervantes’s countercultural (re)construction...
4. Signs of the Times: Emblems of Baroque Science Fiction
In his 2002 tour de force essay on the Hispanic baroque Barroco, Fernando R. de la Flor introduces Juan de Borja’s emblem, Hominem te esse cogita (think that you are [only] a man), as evidence of a Hispanic counter-proposal to the Cartesian revolution, signaled by Descartes’s emblematic motto Cogito ergo sum (Fig. 1). The Spanish scholar’s lengthy dissertation on Spain’s contestatory...
5. "The Knowledge of This People": Mapping a Global Consciousness in Catalonia (1375-2009)
There is a chronology to this project, although its final form more closely resembles a constellation. In 1375, a Jewish cartographer in Mallorca named Cresques Abraham composed a mappamundi at the request of his patron, King Pere III of Aragon. Shortly thereafter, it was sent to Paris as a gift to Charles V, and it can still be found there, in the Bibliothèque Nationale. In 1975, in...
II. Modern(ist) Sceneries
6. Topofilia Portena: Imaging Buenos Aires and Modernity in (and around) the Journal Sur
Walter Gropius’s “Total Theater” (ca. 1927) is one of the most perfect expressions of international modernist architecture. Although the project was never realized, Gropius envisioned his Total Theater, avant la lettre of Le Corbusier, as a “machine à émouvoir.” The Total Theater was not to be a mere monument, or merely a space in which to enact monumental theatrical representations....
7. Horacio Coppola: The Photographer's Urban Fervor
Horacio Coppola (Buenos Aires, 1906–) is the first major photographer of the city of Buenos Aires. His first project Buenos Aires: Visión fotográfica (1936) was executed in the context of the fourth centennial of the original (but ultimately unsuccessful) founding of the city in 1536 by Pedro de Mendoza. After important artistic experiences in Europe, especially in the Photographic Division...
8. Seeing "Spain" at the 1893 Chicago World (Columbian) Exhibition
World Exhibitions integrate characteristics of the spectacle and the museum display, the tourist attraction and the didactic opportunity, the advertisement and the amusement park.1 They offer an opportunity for countries to exhibit themselves by making grand ideological and commercial statements ands are often publicized as cultural events with all the characteristics of participatory...
9. Exhausted Cosmopolitanism in Zamacois's Memorias de un vagon de ferrocarril
Eduardo Zamacois Quintana’s 1922 novel Memorias de un vagón de ferrocarril (Memoirs of a Railway Car) is an intriguing, if at times long-winded and ultimately forgotten, example of the way in which avant-garde and mainstream artists confronted the challenges of Spanish modernity by exploring different categories of being within the context of the social changes of the early twentieth...
III. National Panoramas
10. Cultural Landscapes: Luis Cernuda's Exiled Poetry
The culture of the Spanish Republican exile during Franco’s dictatorship (1939–1975) is still far from being clearly understood. Although advances in archival research already enable a description of its fields of cultural production, its ideological processes remain obscure. The culture of the Republican exile encompasses a geographically dispersed community of intellectuals with...
11. Francoist Spaces: Un hombre va por el camino (Manuel Mur Oti, 1948) and Surcos (Jose Antonio Nieves Conde, 1951)
In a classic study, Henry Lefebvre remarked that each society and, particularly, every mode of production produces its own space (31). Thus, during the first years of Franco’s dictatorship (1939–1975), in which its fascist ingredients appeared with more intensity, the “imagined community” of the regime was located in the rural world. With an economy mainly dependent on agricultural...
12. The Spectacle of a National Trauma: Gaze, Space, National Identity, and Historical Memory in Democratic Spain
As a consequence of the movement for the recovery of historical memory, in the last few years Spain’s cultural sphere has produced a resignification of places that relate to the Spanish Civil War and the Franco period. It is a resemantification that mythologizes, consecrates and monumentalizes spaces that were essentially pragmatic—that is, spaces that until now had been considered...
In his dazzling study of Eduardo Zamacois Quintana’s Memorias de un vagón de ferrocarril, a novel we can appreciate today as ephemera of the 1920s that literate travelers consumed to pass endless hours of transit on Iberian railways, Robert Davidson invokes the concept of “the thing-that-feels.” For good reason: as the title indicates, the principal character is a railway car that speculates...