- Engaging the Emotions in Spanish Culture and History ed. by Luisa Elena Delgado, Pura Fernández, and Jo Labanyi
In his contribution to Engaging the Emotions in Spanish Culture and History, Javier Moscoso points out that the thriving scholarly approach to the history [End Page 196] of emotions faces, among others, theoretical, terminological, methodological, cognitive, and ontological obstacles (176–78). Aware of these difficulties, the present volume undertakes a coherent interdisciplinary, trans-chronological, and transnational investigation into the emotions of modern Spain (because of its more common usage, “emotions” is the editors’ preferred and all-encompassing term to refer to what are sometimes called “affects,” “feelings,” “instincts,” or “impulses”). Summoning the work of fifteen top Hispanists and one writer, the volume engages in a wide range exploration of emotions and their manifestations, filling a gap in a field of research that, as its editors, Luisa Elena Delgado, Pura Fernández, and Jo Labanyi point out, has so far been insufficiently devoted to the study of Spain.
The collected essays present the academic reader with a compelling overview of theoretical and critical approaches, challenges and problems, as well as complexities, angles, and potentialities existing in the study of emotions regarding Spain. Taking up the definition of emotions elaborated upon in the introduction as historically-bound, performative, socio-cultural practices, the volume explores the expression of emotions from an interdisciplinary point of view that does away with outdated dualities such as mind/body, social/individual, male/female, public/private, culture/nature, while, at the same time, breathing life into Spanish history.
The chapters are organized chronologically. Opening the volume’s studies, Mónica Bolufer’s analysis of sentimental literature guides her exposition of the Enlightenment’s code of sensibility. Until the end of the eighteenth century, which saw the shift into the dualistic vision of emotions characteristic of Romanticism, sentiments were considered feelings of affection balanced with reason, and the basis for moral judgment essential for the preservation of a prosperous society. In the second chapter, taking a transnational perspective, Wadda C. Ríos-Font examines another transformation: that of the patriotism displayed in the discourse of Puerto Rico’s first representative at the Cortes de Cádiz, Ramón Power y Giralt, whose patriotic love of Spain, understood as a transatlantic nation, was displaced to Puerto Rico’s land (país) when he felt estranged by the mother/fatherland.
Moving into the nineteenth century, Pura Fernández reads Agustín Pérez Zaragoza’s Galería fúnebre as a gallery of obscure emotions such as fear and pain that helped his ideal readers––active, empathic, and female––read with the body; that is, physically experience terror in the privacy of their rooms as a way of being trained to confront other life dangers. Rebecca Haidt’s essay investigates the discourses by Christian writer Concepción Arenal and hygienicists Pedro Felipe Monclau and Francisco Méndez Álvaro. As Haidt demonstrates, their writings show how, despite disagreeing about the extent to which the State needed to intervene to fight cholera, following the Enlightened sensibility—that is, bridging the moral and physical, as well as individual and social realms—they all agreed on the importance of managing emotions for social regenerative purposes. In her piece, Lou Charnon-Deutsch analyzes the hatred against Jews, Freemasons, and Jesuits as displayed in the imaginary representations of them appearing in nineteenth-century conspiracy novels, and situates this stereotyping in the context of a new world in which wealth was becoming increasingly powerful. [End Page 197]
Rafael Huertas inspects the letters written by patients in the mental asylum of Leganés between 1860 and 1936. Despite having never reached their addressees, these letters provide today’s reader with a vast range of emotions, especially those of melancholia and paranoia, the two most common characteristics of those who suffer from alienation. Huertas’s chapter provides the additional function of ushering the reader out of the nineteenth century, as the following five chapters are dedicated to the twentieth. Juli Highfill’s reading...