Andrew W. Mellon Penn Faculty Fellow in the Humanities
2007—2008 Forum on Origins
Romance Languages & Comparative Literature
Exotic Nation: “Maurophilia” and the Conflictive Construction of Spain
In the early modern period the question of Spain’s origins was a singularly fraught one, as Spaniards struggled to imagine themselves in opposition to the most common perception of them elsewhere as enduringly “Moorish.” I focus on the eventful century between the fall of Granada and the expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609 to explore how Moorishness complicated the construction of Spain both by Spaniards themselves and by other Europeans. Within Spain, I analyze the romanticization of Moors in literary texts—what critics have referred to as “literary maurophilia”—and the more complex, often silent presence of Moorish forms in Spanish material culture. I expand my reading of Spanish texts, artifacts, and practices by charting the broader European construction of Spain, deliberately racialized as African by travelers and Protestant propagandists alike.