The Spanish Enlightenment

Saturday, January 8, 2011: 12:30 PM
Wellesley Room (Marriott Boston Copley Place)
Gabriel B. Paquette , The Johns Hopkins University, Cambridge, United Kingdom
With the notable exceptions of Feijoo, Mayans, and Jovellanos, the prevailing historiography holds that Spain’s enlightenment was feeble, limited, and brief. Where a glimmer of enlightenment could be found, it was afrancesado, a pale imitation of currents on the other side of the Pyrenees. It would take the incursion of French armies in 1808, the traditional narrative goes, to bring enlightenment to Spain. Recent research into the Enlightenment, the late eighteenth-century reform program in Spain and its empire, and Spanish intellectual life, however, has undermined this long-standing interpretation. My paper will survey recent research on the Enlightenment in Spain, indicating emerging orthodoxies and suggesting at least two new directions for future scholarship. The first new direction addressed is how research into Latin American history helps to recast conceptions of the Enlightenment in the Spanish empire. The second is how the study of nineteenth-century Spanish political and intellectual life has revealed the vicissitudes of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment’s impact and legacy.
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