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«A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Romance Languages and Literatures: ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

Reading Culture at the Threshold:

Time and Transition in Modern Spain (1800-1990)

by

Jonathan D. Snyder

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

(Romance Languages and Literatures: Spanish)

in The University of Michigan

Doctoral Committee:

Associate Professor Cristina Moreiras-Menor, Chair

Associate Professor Carol B. Bardenstein

Associate Professor Alejandro Herrero-Olaizola Associate Professor Juli A. Highfill A Miguel, por imaginarse historias que me importan ii Acknowledgments I would like to thank the many friends and colleagues who have supported me throughout my professional and personal transitions that constitute my graduate school years. Their immeasurable patience, encouragement, and affection have taught me more than I can immediately perceive or express here. These are but a few people to whom I owe the dedication of this project. To Cristina Moreiras-Menor for her endless generosity, caring guidance, and perpetual work to make academic life a healthy one for her colleagues and friends. To Juli Highfill for our thoughtful exchanges, which would not be the same without her wonderful sense of humor and inquisitive rigor. To Alex Herrero-Olaizola for helping me think through my plans at every stage, and for giving me his unconditional support despite foreseen difficulties. To Carol Bardenstein for her sideline cheers and coaching from the margins of my papers. To Ross Chambers for crafting intelligent seminar discussions that left no room for pretension. To Jo Labanyi for having encouraged me to keep pursuing ideas when I least thought I would continue graduate school. Their helpful comments, doubts, and reassurance at different stages in this project were fundamental to its completion.

As well, I thank the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures staff, faculty, and students at the University of Michigan, for showing me that learning is indeed a community affair. I owe much to Patricia Keller, whose mutual affection and admiration serve as a constant reminder of her friendship and of how truly fortunate the profession is to have her creativity and contributions. Thank you to David Caron for his iii invaluable wit, laughter, and concern. I also want to thank my family for their willingness to listen to my ideas and, in return, for asking me to explain my thoughts in grounded terms. Lastly, of course, I dedicate this work to Miguel, whose patience and calm made everyday writing seem possible.

Perhaps the most influential teachers speak through one’s writing, without the author necessarily being aware of when and how they are present. For my teachers and friends, and their presence in my work, I am deeply grateful.

Part of Chapter IV, in its early stages, was previously published as an article in the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies [“The Uninhabitable Interiors of Photographer Ferran Freixa (1970-1990)” 7.1 (2006): 1-22]. My thanks to Taylor & Francis Publishers for allowing this content to be reproduced here. Also, I am grateful for Ferran Freixa’s kind permission to reprint his photographs in these pages.

The Program for Cultural Cooperation between the Spanish Ministry of Culture and United States Universities offered their financial support to carry out preliminary dissertation research in Madrid. As well, the Rackham Graduate School and the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan provided funds on several occasions to complete this project. For their support, I should like to thank them here.

–  –  –

Dedication...………….………………………………………………………...……….…ii Acknowledgements………………………………………………………………....……iii List of Illustrations………………………………………………………………………..vi Chapter I. Introduction: On History and Its Thresholds……………………………..…………..…1 On a Concept of Culture…………………………………………...………….....12 A Reflection on Modern Spanish History………………………………………..18 II. Modern Dream Time: Goya and the sueño of Reason…………………………...…...31 The Problem with Locating Origins…………......….....………………….……..31 The Caprices of Power and Modern Subjectivity………………………………..42 Modern Reason: Dreams and Disasters………………………………………….64 Conclusions and Beginnings: Monsters and Masters……………………………85 III. The Time of the Multitude: Crisis and Novelty in 1920s Spain……………………..99 The Architecture of Managing the Multitude: Primo de Rivera’s Dictatorial Modernization of Spain (1923-1930)…………………………………….99 Spanish (National) History Deformed: The Time of the Multitude in Valle-Inclán’s Esperpentos…………………....……………….…….132 IV. Time, Unsettled: Traces of the Transición to Democracy in Photography and Narrative…………………………………………..174 The Photographed Subject: Portraits of Absence………………………………181 Beyond the Photograph’s Frame: Reading Traces in the Transición…………..203 Reading Carmen Martín Gaite’s El cuarto de atrás as an Ethical Turn towards History…………………………………….224 Epilogue: On Time, History, and Sense-Making in the Present……………………….245 Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………253

–  –  –





Illustrations By Francisco de Goya 2.1 “El sí pronuncian y la mano alargan Al primero que llega”…………………………95 2.2 “Al Conde Palatino”……………………………………………………………...….96 2.3 “Ya es hora”.…………….…………………………………………………………………....97 2.4 “El sueño de la razón produce monstruos”………………….………………………...98 By Ferran Freixa

4.1 Café Florian, Venice………………………………………....……………………..240

4.2 Hotel Maria Cristina, San Sebastian……………………………………......………240

4.3 Hotel Maria Cristina, San Sebastian………………………………………………..241

4.4 Hotel Maria Cristina, San Sebastian………………………………………………..241

4.5 Hotel Maria Cristina, San Sebastian………………………………………………..242 4.6 “Gran Teatre del Liceu”, Barcelona……………………………………………......242 4.7 “Gran Teatre del Liceu”, Barcelona………………………………………….....….243 4.8 “La Trona” Peluqueria, Barcelona…………………………………………….....…243

4.9 Hotel Maria Cristina, San Sebastián………………………………………………..244

–  –  –

How can one speak of history if there is no such thing? For any narrative or enunciation regarding the past will always be a product of perceptions and judgments, both collective and subjective, bound by prior and current authorities of influence, by institutional knowledge and its methods, its discursive limitations and possibilities, and the temporal and spatial specificity from which one speaks; these are determining factors that make each enunciation unique, by silently speaking through it. If we understand that archives on history are constituted by multiple representations produced about the past, then how can one position a beginning within these discursive entanglements, while sensing that we are already in medias res? From where and when do we speak, knowing well that, once finished, our speech will always be incomplete? Locating such a strategic origin from which to speak about the past would prove undoubtedly bound to similarly complex conditions that mould one’s discursive practice about history, and that risk failing logical coherence by the time we are done speaking about it. Though these are not necessarily negative consequences for positioning our beginning, let us restate the question: how can one speak of history if there is no such object of study that shows itself, except in false totality, as a straw-man of discursive practices aimed at describing the past, questioning its accidents and occurrences, the force of its change, its inconstant ruptures, its discontinuities, its lacunae, its shadowed patterns of similarity dispersed across time?

This problem is immediately troubling, though perhaps liberating, on at least two accounts. First, the aforementioned conditions and circumstances that speak through a representation produced about historical phenomena can never be perceived in absolute form; they are only partially evident to one who speaks about it, and are attributable to influences shaping a complex site of forces that act through the speaking subject, whether the historian, an author, a teacher, or the witness. That is, from the conditions that bind any discursive practice to its circumstance, we may take comfort and caution in awareness that we too are subject to a range of possibilities and influences beyond our conscious register. Yet, when considering what lies outside any one person’s contribution to this discourse, beyond a speaking subject who chooses history as his or her “object” of interrogation, the immediacy of this interconnectedness between the speaker, author or teacher and his or her context becomes prevalent. This leads me to a second, more pressing matter. Even though historical accounts are bound to similar discursive conditions as narrative fiction, making history readable, perhaps to some, like a strange genre of objective literature, it might seem obvious to assert that past events are not fictitious, but did indeed happen. Nevertheless, there remains a gamut of ethical dilemmas in assuming that all writing on history is literature, or perhaps even fiction. In order to illustrate this point, I have a dramatic example in mind. For while history is weighted with the gravity of past events—in the extreme case, we need to look no further back in time than twentieth-century history, its wars and armed conflicts, its mass murder and regimes of oppression, to be reminded of the present circumstance—any regard for history as an inexistent object of study should not dismiss the very real, and often traumatic, consequences it has produced in collective and subjective experience. If we conceive of history as a nonexistent object—one that has nevertheless encompasses a vast field of discourse attempting to make sense of it—consisting of events that have produced pleasures, horrors, and a range of very real affects known to human experience, we risk conflating the past with a fiction that unfolds out of pure determined force, like the plot of a story whose ending is already known to us. What remains at stake, aside from the grave pitfall of suggesting that history follows any sort of determined course or progress, is the willful surrender of one’s own recognition of being subject to history, provided with the possibility of beginning to speak about it, yet stripped of a partial consciousness that we too are conditioned by its very interstices.

And so we have already begun. Aware, at least in part, that I am speaking about history through works whose authors have addressed the matters I outline above, I take their works as my point of departure, while moving towards specificity throughout this introduction to the present study and to the questions it asks: what is a historical transition? And, in the case of modern Spanish history, loosely defined from the 1800s to present, what does transition look like? On what terms may it be accounted for, in a field of sociopolitical forces, in subjective and collective experience, and in the practices of knowledge that govern, and become governed by these negotiations? At what times have transitions occurred, and within what temporal framework may they be adequately, though only ever partially, described?

These are some of the considerations laid out in Foucault’s The Archaeology of Knowledge, where the author expounds in methodological detail the elements of discursive analysis he proposes for investigative work on epistemic transformations at work in a structural analysis of history, and which would become the framework for his future and continued genealogical explorations into the history of madness, sexuality, and the human sciences in Western cultures. What Foucault provides are the methodological tools with which to proceed to question history through discursive analysis, tools that prove useful in recognizing the transformative movement of historiography as a product and site of multiple, shifting negotiations between certain players (e.g., subjects, collectives, institutions) and the choices, practices, and norms that govern their actions and the production of discourse. The transitory nature of these governing principles of knowledge, Foucault argues, is not fixedly determined like plots on a map, but consists in “a constantly moving set of articulations, shifts, and coincidences that are established, only to give rise to others” (192). If we think of history, then, as a falsely conceived object of study, it remains possible to investigate, in historiography, “the way in which, in each of these discursive formations, the transitions to epistemologization, scientificity, and formalization are situated and operate; the distribution of these thresholds, which may coincide, be subordinated to one another, or be separated by shifts in time” (191). In sum, despite our slippery object of study—history—we are provided with tools at our disposal to investigate its transitions, its lacunae, the tempo of its change in representation.



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