Towards the Digital Cultural History of the Other Silver Age Spain

by Dolores Romero Lopez (Volume editor) Jeffrey Zamostny (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection 282 Pages


Consigned to oblivion by the Franco regime and traditional historiography, the Other Silver Age Spain (1868-1939) encompasses an array of cultural forms that are coming back into view today with the aid of mass digitization. This volume examines the period through a digital lens, reinterpreting literary and cultural history with the aid of twenty-first-century technologies that raise aesthetic and ethical questions about historical memory, the canon, and the archive. Scholars based in Spain, Germany, and the United States explore modern Spanish culture in the context of digital corpora, archives, libraries, maps, networks, and visualizations—tools that spark dialogues between the past and the present, research and teaching, and Hispanism in the academy and society at large.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction. Silver Age Spain, Today: The View through a Digital Lens (Dolores Romero López and Jeffrey Zamostny)
  • I. Corpus, Archive, Database, Library: Digital Repositories and their Uses
  • Chapter 1 Replication Crisis and the (Digital) Humanities: Perspectives from the Spanish Silver Age(s) (José Calvo Tello and Nanette Rißler-Pipka)
  • Chapter 2 From the Digital Humanities to Digital Modernism: Critical Approaches to Technology and Literary Databases: SilverAgeLab Translations and Valle-Inclán’s Manuscripts (Rosario Mascato Rey and Adriana Abalo Gómez)
  • Chapter 3 Mnemosine: A Digital Platform for Research and Rediscovery of the Other Silver Age Spain (José Miguel González Soriano and Joaquín Gayoso Cabada)
  • Chapter 4 Digitizing Erotica: A Virtual Wunderkammer: Sexual Cultures in Early Twentieth-Century Spain (Maite Zubiaurre and Wendy Perla Kurtz)
  • Chapter 5 A Distant and Close Reading Analysis of Spanish Anarchist Magazines and Erotic Magazines of the Early Twentieth Century (Elena Bonmatí Gonzálvez)
  • II. Maps and Networks: Perspectives from Hispanic, Iberian, and Transatlantic Studies
  • Chapter 6 Mapping Celia en la revolución by Elena Fortún (María Jesús Fraga)
  • Chapter 7 Dance Studies and Digital Humanities: On Tour with Antonia Mercé La Argentina’s Ballets Espagnols (1927–1929) (Blanca Gómez Cifuentes)
  • Chapter 8 Digital Cartography as a Tool for Studying Transnational Literary Relations: The Iberian Case (Santiago Pérez Isasi)
  • Chapter 9 Transatlantic Transfers: Dynamics of Circulation in Literary and Cultural Magazines of the Silver Age (Hanno Ehrlicher and Jörg Lehmann)
  • Chapter 10 New Models for a Digital Reading of the Republican Exile of 1939 (Lucía Cotarelo Esteban)
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

Dolores Romero López

Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Jeffrey Zamostny

University of West Georgia

Silver Age Spain, Today: The View through a Digital Lens

What is Silver Age Spain, today? In the years since Ernesto Giménez Caballero published his two-volume study Lengua y literatura de España. La Edad de Plata (1946), numerous additional writers have used the term Silver Age to name a historical period that is rich and diverse in its literary and cultural production. Antonio Ubieto Arteta, José María Jover Zamora, and Juan Reglá Campistol in their book Introducción a la historia de España describe the Spanish Silver Age as a paler reflection of the Siglo de Oro or Golden Age, another historiographic category referencing the rise and fall of Spanish imperial power and the flourishing of the arts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (1963: 711). For these historians, the quality of Spanish literature in the first third of the twentieth century marked a new period of vitality that, without achieving the gilded splendor of previous centuries, harked back to the era of Garcilaso, Góngora, Quevedo, and Cervantes. Subsequent researchers including Miguel Martínez Cuadrado (1973), José-Carlos Mainer (1975), and Pedro Laín Entralgo (1993–1994) discuss Silver Age Spain in similar ways and popularized the concept within literary studies.

With the death of Franco and Spain’s transition to democracy, Spanish scholars sought to wrest the country’s history from the ideological grasp of the National Catholic regime (1939–1975) and to open the historical record to new and diverse perspectives. In that context, the notion of a Silver Age offered an antidote to other historiographic concepts that prospered under the dictatorship and tended to offer a narrow vision of Spanish culture prior to the Civil War (1936–1939). Too often, the pre-war period was sliced into neatly categorized groups of mostly male, bourgeois writers who wrote mostly in Castilian, mostly in prestigious literary genres. A more capacious category, the idea of a ←7 | 8→Silver Age questions the division between modernistas and noventayochistas and the often reductive periodization of the Generations of 1898, 1914, 1927, and 1936. The label fosters an integrative approach, highlighting continuities and ruptures across literary and other cultural trends within a broader history of modernization and modernity. In so doing, it overlaps with other categories that previously enjoyed more traction outside Spain: fin de siècle, Belle Époque, avant-garde, Modernism. Even the time span of the Silver Age is porous. Whereas Mainer (1975) focused on the decades between 1902 and the Civil War, others have extended the period back to the Revolution of 1868 and the First Republic of 1873–1874 (Urrutia Cárdenas, 1999–2000; Romero López, 2014). This backwards movement lengthens the Silver Age to coincide more fully with various modernizing processes: uneven democratization, industrialization, and urbanization; the spread of working-class politics and early feminist publications; or cultural developments including national renaissance movements, Pan-Hispanism, and political and cultural Iberism.

Building on previous discussions, the following chapters name different starting points for the Silver Age (1868, 1898 or 1902), and in one case extend it beyond the Civil War to account for its persistence in the Republican exile. Cutting across these differences, the chapters invariably view the period from a contemporary perspective grounded in the mass digitization of content, the globalization of media, and the development of digital tools for probing new and existing questions about the modern cultural record. Digital methodologies have a transformative impact on our understanding of the Silver Age today, compelling us to further scrutinize what we study when we examine this category, and how we produce new knowledge. From an epistemological standpoint, the digital turn facilitates interdisciplinary and transversal research that, at its best, bridges gaps between academic fields and between the academy and society at large. As for the period’s ontological sweep, digitization is easing access to a vast, little-studied archive alongside the recognized canon, expanding the range of cultural forms, practices, and processes that could be studied as part of the Silver Age.

In his pioneering study La Edad de Plata. Ensayo de interpretación de un proceso cultural (1902–1931), first published in 1975, José-Carlos Mainer argued that studies of this time should trace the development of Spanish culture through “la crisis ideológica de fin de siglo; la formación de los diferentes círculos de nuestra sociedad contemporánea (el burgués reformista, el popular, los regionales, etc.); la ruptura del ideal modernista; la significación del grupo cuajado en torno al semanario España; las primeras etapas del vanguardismo; los nuevos vientos artísticos que columbraron en el horizonte histórico de 1930, etc.” (1975: 47). Extending this list to include the Second Republic (1931–1939) ←8 | 9→and the Civil War, Mainer went on to publish a second edition of his book with Cátedra in 1981. In the expanded edition, Mainer recognized that the term Silver Age was gaining acceptance among scholars; indeed, the book itself was successful in Spain and abroad and helped promote study of the period as a historical, social, and cultural moment marked by the confluence of canonical high-cultural creators with less-remembered popular writers who flourished due to “el predominio del periódico y de la revista sobre el libro como vehículo de difusión cultural en la España de preguerra” (1975: 17).

Today, comparative studies and research into ostensibly minor figures are driving forces behind the work of La otra Edad de Plata, a research group at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid that focuses on the “Other” Silver Age of “strange and forgotten” creators, works, and themes (Ena Bordonada, 2013; Romero López, 2014).1 One of the achievements of Cultural Studies was to draw attention to the margins as a space where dominant concepts of culture and history are alternately strengthened, undermined, reworked, and transformed (Easthope, 1991; Kushner, 1995). The Other Silver Age exists at the margins of mainstream accounts of modern Spanish history and connects earlier work on the Silver Age with newer perspectives informed by the most pressing issues within Cultural Studies: questions about women’s culture, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, national identity and transnationalism, politics and pedagogy, the production and reception of elite and popular culture, and the relationship of modernity to numerous cultural forms, not only the most prestigious literary genres (Berman, 1982; Santiáñez-Tió, 2002). These are the guiding threads through this book’s inquiry into the warp and weft of modernity in the Other Silver Age Spain.

This volume views the Silver Age through a digital lens, reinterpreting literary and cultural history with the aid of twenty-first century technologies that raise far-reaching aesthetic and ethical questions concerning the relationship of historical memory, the canon, and the archive (Moretti, 2017; Ríos Font, 2004). How do our knowledge and questions about the past change when previously obscure archival sources become accessible with a few clicks of a button? What parts of the archive might achieve canonical status in the academy or broader popularity, and how and why might this take place? What components of the cultural record have not yet been digitized, and what does that say about the value judgements and copyright restrictions behind digitization projects?←9 | 10→

In response, the following chapters examine Silver Age literature and culture in the context of digital corpora, archives, libraries, maps, and networks – tools that spark dialogues between the past and the present, research and teaching, and Hispanism in Spain and abroad. The expansion of the Silver Age into the Other Silver Age, the mass digitization of historical archives, and the increasing appeal of transdisciplinary approaches have given rise to what William J. Turkle calls the “infinite archive,” a continuum of delocalized data accessible to numerous individuals and research groups (Turkle, 2005–2008). Faced with such a volume of information, scholars and teachers are often torn between the elation of coming upon useful electronic sources and the disappointment of confronting obstacles to finding, enriching, and sharing digital content. This book seeks to help readers navigate the digital archive of the Other Silver Age Spain as it exists today while signaling directions for the growth, study, and use of that archive in the future.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (April)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 282 pp., 53 fig. col., 7 fig. b/w, 3 tables.

Biographical notes

Dolores Romero Lopez (Volume editor) Jeffrey Zamostny (Volume editor)

Dolores Romero López is associate professor of Spanish literature at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She is director of the research team La otra Edad de Plata: Historia Cultural y Digital and coordinator of Mnemosine: Biblioteca Digital de La otra Edad de Plata. Jeffrey Zamostny is associate professor of Spanish at the University of West Georgia. His research explores questions of gender, sexuality, celebrity, and fandom in the literature and culture of early twentieth-century Spain. He is also a literary translator.


Title: Towards the Digital Cultural History of the Other Silver Age Spain
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284 pages