Hispano-Irish Women Writers of Spain’s Late Enlightenment Period

Authored by: Elizabeth Franklin Lewis

The Routledge Companion to Iberian Studies

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415722834
eBook ISBN: 9781315709895
Adobe ISBN:


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Spain’s Enlightenment was, until the second half of the twentieth century, almost completely overlooked by scholars. Primarily understood as being a time of foreign imitation (an idea debunked by Russell Sebold 1967, 1970), many have considered the Spanish Enlightenment not to have produced anything original or good, with the great exception of Goya. However, some recent studies have emphasized this period as a time of major social, cultural, and political changes that propelled Spain towards modernity: Joaquín Álvarez Barrientos (2005) outlines features of the Spanish eighteenth century that connect it to the larger Enlightenment movement, and that propel Spain into a “mentalidad moderna” (12), while Michael Iarocci (2006), tracing Spanish Romanticism to José de Cadalso’s Noches lúgubres (1775), also identifies the beginnings of modernity in the eighteenth century. This was especially the case for Spanish women (see Bolufer and Burguera 2010): for the first time Spanish women began to publish translations, treatises on education, and poems and plays in significant numbers. They led and participated in the culturally and politically influential tertulias of the day such as the Academia del Buen Gusto in Madrid. They were both contributors and subscribers to increasingly popular periodical publications such as the Semanario de Salamanca and the Diario de Madrid (see Jaffe 2010). Women also participated in important male groups such as the Royal Economic Society of Madrid, and formed their own all-female civic organizations that attempted to solve difficult social problems of poverty and the lack of education in groups such as the Junta de Damas and the Asociación de Señoras (see Bolufer 1998; Jaffe and Lewis 2009; Lewis 2004; Palacios Fernández 2002, Smith 2006, and García Hurtado 2016).

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