Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Department of Spanish and Portuguese

“Cada espíritu es un libro”: Spiritualism and Modernity in Turn-of-the-Century Spain

Lecture by Alicia Cerezo-Paredes

Thu, February 17, 2011 | BEN 2.104

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

On October 9, 1861, the Catholic Bishop of Barcelona ordered the public burning of three hundred books confiscated at the French border, making for one of history’s last autos de fe in Spain. Why did a group of people who believed in the possibility of communicating with spirits provoke such a strong reaction? This presentation will show: 1) how the Spiritualist’s fluid and anti-hierarchical visions of life and death, body and spirit, and faith and science made them deeply anticlerical and led them to affiliate with radical social movements like abolitionism, feminism, and socialism; 2) how the frequently persecuted literature of Spiritualist authors, especially that of Amalia Domingo Soler, can give us new perspectives from which to contest and/or enhance our assumptions about particular literary movements, such as Romanticism, Realism, or the so-called Generation of 98; and 3) how keeping in mind some of the basic tenets of Spiritualist ideology can also provide a new framework from which to re-interpret canonical works like Benito Pérez Galdós’s Electra (1901). This kind of cultural and literary investigation exposes us to some historical figures and ideas that have been traditionally overlooked, thus making for a more subtle and sophisticated evaluation of the Spanish experience of modernity.

Sponsored by: The Department of Spanish and Portuguese

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