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372 13 Havana and Macondo The Humanities in U.S. Latin American Studies, 1940–2000 Rolena Adorno Spanish-language study was an essential component in the creation of U.S. Latin American area studies, and it has distant antecedents. Thomas Jefferson was one of the first American statesmen and politicians to envision the study of the Spanish language in the United States as a necessary adjunct to the education of the new country’s citizens.1 Jefferson the Francophile saw the academic value of the Spanish language for the study of hemispheric history , but most of all he foresaw its value as a vehicle for the development of hemisphere-wide commerce.2 By the end of the nineteenth century this view had gained ground. In his 1883 Phi Beta Kappa lecture at Harvard College , Charles Francis Adams Jr. remarked, “The Spanish tongue is what the Greek is not,—a very considerable American fact.”3 It was probably Adams’s involvement with the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad that accounted for his assertion, because his insight into the importance of the Spanish language was not the view generally held by academicians at the time.4 Upon welcoming scholars to the eighth annual Modern Language Association convention in 1890, the chancellor of Vanderbilt University, Landon C. Garland, called attention to “a Spanish speaking people, over whose territory we are stretching out our railroads, and with whom we are daily enlarging our commercial relations, and over whose territory we are extending our missionary operations.”5 Within such purviews, the teaching of the Spanish language was introduced in American universities late in the nineteenth century.6 It arose out of a two-layered debate over the American university curriculum regarding the respective values of teaching the ancient versus the modern languages and, more broadly, the value of pursuing the natural sciences rather than classical subjects.7 The emergence of Spanish was part of the “practical turn” in the early development of the U.S. university curriculum. Spanish-language study thus long antedates the advent of Latin American studies as such, and its support and promotion would come to constitute the earliest developments in the field. Havana and Macondo 373 The growth of Latin American studies in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century came about through a series of convergences between events external and internal to the academic disciplines that it comprises: history, political science, anthropology, economics, sociology, and language and literary studies. In addition, the period under discussion includes the emergence of U.S. Latino studies, Afro-Hispanic studies, and Latin American cultural studies. This brief overview attempts to assess how cold war initiatives fomented Latin American studies in the humanities, particularly Spanish-language and literary studies, and how, by the end of the century, the field of literary studies was complemented by new critical trends that ranged from the study of gender and sexuality to testimonial writing.8 The rhetorical figure that best captures this era of tremendous growth and significant transformation is irony—that is, the irony of outcomes that ignored , subverted, or transcended original intentions. The Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957, the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the Operation Camelot scandal of 1965, the Vietnam War of the late 1960s–early 1970s, and the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua in 1979 affected the shifting fortunes of U.S. Latin American studies in general. Yet many important developments internal to Latin American area studies predate these events, and others have been only indirectly affected by them. The core disciplines did not develop simultaneously. Language and literary studies and history are the oldest, along with anthropology, political science , economics, and sociology.9 There is no doubt that cold war initiatives had an influence on Latin American studies, particularly the social sciences.10 At the same time the development of area studies centers and programs made possible the exponential institutional growth of the Latin Americanist humanities, even though such programmatic initiatives did not successfully anticipate or control the paths that humanistic studies actually took. With the important exception of the attention drawn to Latin America by the Cuban Revolution, the other influential events for the U.S. Latin Americanist humanities in the cold war era have been literary rather than political; these literary events—from Borges to the international “Boom” of the Latin American novel—have oriented the course and content of language and literary studies developments.11 The trump card was not...


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