Early Modern Plenary, Thursday 19 October: Yolanda Rodríguez Pérez
Title: ‘Like a tree too luxuriant to be pruned’: Discussing Spanish Golden Age theatre in English nineteenth-century literary histories
Synopsis: The intricate relationship between Spain and England has been characterized since the Early Modern period by a clear tension between aversion and fascination. Anti-hispanism, as a fundamental axis to the process of European proto-national identity, contributed to shape the cultural and political self-definition of England. Nonetheless, political rivalry never impeded literary traffic. Fascination for Spanish letters was undeniable, although Spanish influence was frequently, voluntarily or not, occluded or downplayed. An essential role in the way in which we still perceive the works of the Early Modern period is determined by nineteenth-century perspectives. Many fossilized interpretations, enormously resistant to alteration, were forged in this age of cultural nationalism, when the idea of a national Golden Age played an essential role in the construction of English literary histories and canons. This paper delves into the legacy of Spanish cultural influence at the time of the creation of national literary and historical canons, with its rising sense of national competition that led nations to underline national originality and the nation’s contributions to other literatures. Nonetheless, this Golden Age coincided with a past shared with the Spanish, both as enemies and as a source of inspiration.
Biography: Yolanda Rodríguez Pérez is Associate Professor in the Department of European Studies of the University of Amsterdam. Her research deals primarily with Imagology and the Cultural Transfer between Spain and the Netherlands in the Early Modern period. She specializes in Golden Age Theatre. Her last research project focused on the Spanish Black Legend. Her recent research links the Early Modern period to the nineteenth-century, when national identities and literary canons consolidated the Golden Age as the key period in the national-historical consciousness. She is the Principal Investigator of ‘Mixed feelings: Literary Hispanophilia and Hispanophobia in England and the Netherlands in the Early Modern period and the nineteenth century’ (funded by NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, 2015-2020).
Eighteenth/Nineteenth Century Plenary, Friday 20 October:
Huw J Davies
Title: Knowledge and Information in War: The Anglo-Iberian Experience, 1750-1850
Synopsis: During the war in the Iberian Peninsula between 1807 and 1814, Britain forged a fractious but ultimately successful intelligence-sharing relationship with Spain and Portugal. This helped achieve military success against Napoleonic France. At the end of the war, the intelligence relationship lapsed, but the impact of the shared Anglo-Iberian experience of war would have ramifications for several decades. This paper explores the development of knowledge networks within the British military in the eighteenth century, and how the experience of the war in the Iberian Peninsula impacted on those networks. It posits that the experience of a war, environment and culture altered the character of knowledge networks that were instrumental in Britain’s military development. Whilst the specific benefits of the Anglo-Iberian relationship was clear during the conflict, the longer term effects were as important.
Biography: Dr Huw J Davies is a Senior Lecturer in Defence Studies at King’s College London and currently Deputy Dean of Academic Studies (Education). He is responsible for the management of the delivery of Professional Military Education to Britain’s Armed Forces. Dr Davies gained his PhD from the University of Exeter in 2006, and, in addition to numerous articles on Napoleonic military history, his first book, entitled Wellington’s Wars: The Making of a Military Genius, was published by Yale University Press in 2012. His next book, Spying for Wellington: British Military Intelligence During the Peninsular War, will be published by Oklahoma University Press in 2018. His area of research focuses on the activities of the British Army between 1750 and 1850. As a result he has conducted research in the United States, India, Pakistan and Australia, as well as in archives in Europe. Dr Davies has also held fellowships at the University of Michigan, the Huntington Library in California and at Yale University.
Public plenary, Saturday 21 October:
Colonel D. Jesús Ansón Soro
Title: “El Gran Capitán” in the foreign policy of the Catholic kings
Synopsis: Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, known as “el Gran Capitán, the Great Captain” (Montilla, 01 Sep 1453 – 02 Dec 1515), is one of the prominent legends of the History of Spain. Second son of the house of Aguilar, he was brought up, first in the Court of Prince Alonso, and later on in the Court of the Catholic Kings. He built his military preparation in the Granada war, where he stood out for his courage and know-how, becoming one of the most outstanding captains of this campaign. Appointed by the Catholic Kings as commander of the force designed to protect the Kingdom of Naples from the French Army of Carlos VIII, he innovated the Art of War, prevailing over a superior force and setting up the bases for modern warfare. His life closely coincided with Ferdinand II, with whom he maintained a peculiar relationship, and reflected the tumultuous period of the Spanish History, because of the differences between the King and the Castilian nobility, which gave room to the birth of Spain as we know it nowadays. Finally, this emblematic man – who did so much for Spain – humbly ended his time in a sort of “exile”, as a governor of Loja.
Colonel Jesús Anson Soro is Secretary General of the Spanish Army Museum located in Toledo. As commissary of the exhibition organized (2015) to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, “the Great Captain”. He specializes in this historical personality and in the period in which he lived, the 15th and 16th centuries.