After reading a copy of "El rapto de la mente" when I was just 22 years young and living in Madrid, I immediately realized what historical period most moved me in my graduate studies: the beginnings of philosophical and literary modernity in 18th-century Spain. At that moment in my life, I envisioned myself immersed in Enlightenment texts and one day writing my dissertation with the authoritative figure in the field at the University of Pennsylvania. And that I did just a few years later.
Today, Spanish literature and culture of the 18th-century is still widely misunderstood in modern anthologies and notoriously underrepresented in undergraduate offerings across U.S. universities. Fortunately for students at Marquette, this is not the case!
Among all the literary, artistic and cultural movements of Spain, the period between 1680 and 1835 is still one of the most overlooked, misinterpreted and poorly studied ages since the appearance of Mio Cid (c. 1140). Once referred to as the “Forgotten Century,” a new generation of dieciochistas in the U.S. and Spain has recently shed new light on literary innovations, artistic accomplishments and the modernity of 18th-century Spanish culture. This group of young scholars has refreshed our understanding of the literary and cultural products of 18th-century Spain and has also planted the seeds for a new generation of innovative research on another neglected period in Spanish literature: the beginnings of Spanish Romanticism (1770-1830).
I am especially interested in how Spanish novelists interpreted the European epistolary novel and molded the format to offer their own unique reflections on 18th-century culture. One question that I ask is, How did Spanish writers of the late 18th-century view French and English epistolary novels and why did they adapt the format for their own purposes? Exactly what is a Spanish epistolary novel? Is it even a novel? I am also very interested in the role of women (both real and fictitious) in the Spanish Enlightenment and how even innovative writers grappled with the delicate topic of the sexes, given the obvious cultural and political influence of the Inquisition.