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Looking at Iberia

A Comparative European Perspective


Edited By Santiago Pérez Isasi and Angela Fernandes

This collection of new essays by scholars from across Europe focuses on the key theoretical and historical questions within the rapidly growing field of Iberian studies, which is taken by the authors to mean the methodological consideration of the Iberian peninsula as a complex and multilingual cultural and literary system. Dealing with a wide range of issues and cultural output from a comparative European perspective, the essays question the concept of ‘Iberian’ itself, query its suitability as a starting point for academic research and consider it in relation to other more established concepts and identities, such as Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Basque and Galician, as well as wider European and Western identities. The contributors examine the relationship between the reality of ‘Iberia’ and the mythical, historical and artistic narratives created to support or represent this collective identity, with a particular focus on the period from the nineteenth century to the present day.


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Part I The New Theoretical Grounds and Methodologies of Iberian Studies


Santiago Pérez Isasi Iberian Studies: A State of the Art and Future Perspectives I This volume, and this chapter in particular, are based on two complemen- tary convictions: 1) that there is a need to create or rather to consolidate Iberian Studies as a specific field of knowledge which encompasses a wide set of literary, artistic and cultural phenomena that cannot be properly understood and explained from a national perspective; and 2) that this field, despite the fact that it has not yet been named or epistemologically positioned, has seen a significant development in the last few years through the emergence of a growing number of scholarly publications. Admittedly, Comparative Studies on the dif ferent literatures of the Iberian Peninsula and their mutual interrelations are not new. For instance, there is a long tradition of studies that compare Spanish and Portuguese authors or texts within the general field of Comparative Literature. However and in accordance with our proposal, if we consider Iberian Studies as a specific field or subfield, we see that they consist of something dif ferent to this tradition which is, needless to say, extremely valuable and useful. It could be defined as the consistent and deliberate consideration of the Iberian Peninsula as an interconnected, multilingual and multicul- tural political, identitarian and literary polysystem1 or semiosphere, to use Lotman’s term.2 Thus, the literary phenomena that can be analysed 1 Itamar Even-Zohar, ‘The Role of Literature in the Making of the Nations of Europe: A Socio-semiotic Study’, Applied...

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