Skip to Content

Fabulous Leviathan: Visions of New York City in Modern Spanish Culture, 1875-1975

«Back To Seminars

Organizer: Evelyn Scaramella

Co-Organizer: Antonio Cordoba

Contact the Seminar Organizers

“At last you set foot on the city you had barely glimpsed, fabulous like a Leviathan.” This is how Luis Cernuda described his arrival in New York in Ocnos. For Cernuda, the city was an object of desire that defied cognition and overwhelmed the subject with its unaccountable size and threatening power. Cernuda was not alone. A long series of Spanish artists and intellectuals present the city as a site that cannot be properly perceived or decoded, a place of challenges and complications that invite him or her to reexamine their customs and identity. New York is also one of the global centers of political, cultural and economic power. All the symbolic capital that the city may have accrued thereby becomes a resource and a tool for Spain, which used the city to launch programs and institutions that redefined its national character for an international audience, like the Spanish Pavilion in the International Exhibition of 1965. Finally, New York has been a privileged place for Peninsular subjects and non-Spaniards alike to come together to produce transnational forms of cultural solidarity and collective political and aesthetic intervention, such as Victoria Kent’s journal Ibérica or El Instituto de las Españas at Columbia University.
      We want to create an interdisciplinary dialogue about the ways in which Peninsular culture has constructed and/or made use of the skyscraper city between 1875 an 1975. We are looking for papers on a wide range of historical figures, associations and networks, and on cultural production in any media (literature, photography, plastic arts, film, etc.) and Peninsular language. How is New York constructed as a foil to Spanish culture and how is New York used to (re)define Peninsular national identities? In what ways is it perceived as an opportunity for self-discovery and self-fashioning, and understood as a stage on which to gather global attention? We encourage our authors to outline the different ways in which specific articulations of desires and fears about modernity operate in a transnational field that allow us to question prevalent constructions of Peninsular national cultures and histories.
            Possible topics:

Migrants and exiles.
Architecture and urban space.
Basque culture and New York.          
Catalan culture and New York.
NYC in writing, film, and graphic media.
Galician culture and New York.         
Gender, New York, and Spanish culture.
New York as a center of cultural translation and transnational exchange.
Peninsular and transnational associations in New York.    
Spaniards and the New York artistic scene.
State-sponsored institutions, exhibitions, and cultural projects.

«Back To Seminars