- The Routledge Companion to Iberian Studies eds. by Javier Muñoz-Basols, Laura Lonsdale, and Manuel Delgado
In their preface to The Routledge Companion to Iberian Studies, co-editors Javier Muñoz-Basols, Laura Lonsdale, and Manuel Delgado observe: "Traditionally, Iberian Studies has implied a focus on Spain and Portugal and the respective languages of the two nation-states, Spanish and Portuguese; but as Iberian Studies evolves as a discipline, or, perhaps more accurately, as a project at once academic, cultural, and political, it distinguishes itself from traditional peninsular Hispanism and Lusitanism by seeking to generate a comparative space in which the much greater linguistic and cultural diversity of the Iberian Peninsula is the prime object of interest" (xxii-xxiii). This statement may initially cause confusion, given that Iberian Studies, beginning with the work of pioneering scholars like Joan Ramon Resina, has consistently advocated a multipolar consideration of the Iberian Peninsula's varied literary traditions, including Catalan, Galician, and Basque. Upon reflection, the co-editors' statement can be explained if "Iberian Studies" is made to describe both the insurgent approach promoted by Resina and others over the past two decades (what the co-editors describe as the "new brand") and the traditional Hispanist scholarship that serves as Iberian Studies' object of critique. This case of semantic confusion speaks to a lack of consensus within Iberian Studies regarding its scope and aims: does Iberian Studies aspire to reform peninsularist scholarship by expanding its field of analysis and textual corpus beyond the Castilian-language canon, or does it represent a clean break with the Hispanist past? [End Page 650]
The Routledge Companion to Iberian Studies, with its fifty chapters divided chronologically into five parts, seems to align itself with the first of these options, making a substantial scholarly contribution to the bourgeoning field of Iberian Studies, and highlighting a number of new areas for research. Several contributors argue for an expanded peninsular canon, and the most incisive contributions present both the rationale for and consequences of the traditional exclusion of these writers and texts. In his masterful chapter "An interstitial history of medieval Iberian poetry," David A. Wacks notes how the multilingualism of medieval Iberian poets, particularly those identified as "Hebrew" or "Arabic," challenges the enforced monolingualism of the national literature model, which in this sense, "obscures just as much as it edifies" (81). Moving into the late nineteenth century, Elisa Martí-López structures a comparative reading of Benito Pérez Galdós's La de Bringas (1884) and Narcís Oller's La febre d'or (1890-92) around their meditation on the relationship between compromised perception and death. Reflecting critically on Iberian Studies, Martí-López makes the following, highly pertinent observation: "The question to pose to comparative approaches and, more particularly, to all studies written under the rubric of Iberia is what Iberian imaginary, if any, they bring forth. Are we reproducing old forms of national imagination framed now by wider or looser—and not always explicit—notions of territorial coherence?" (357). Sebastiaan Faber laments the persistent exclusion of exiled twentieth-century Spanish writers from the peninsular canon and draws on these writers to question the continued valence of Hispanism as an academic enterprise organized around the convenient fiction of a culturally and linguistically monolithic Spain. He contends: "Any approach to cultural history that takes the nation-state as its principal organizing unit is bound to misunderstand or underestimate exiles' life, work, and genealogy. Given the massive impact of displacement on twentieth-century culture, particularly culture produced by individuals born in the Iberian Peninsula, it can be argued that the nation-based framework is insufficient to understand Iberian cultural production generally" (436). In a similar spirit, Cristián H. Ricci analyzes literature written in Spanish and Catalan by immigrant writers from Morocco and Equatorial Guinea, and notes that, "[t]he multilingual circulation of immigrant fiction destabilizes nation-based conceptions of literary culture" (593).
Elsewhere, contributors address an eclectic set of topics, ranging chronologically from the eighth to the...