Spanish Language and Literature: Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

Michelle M Hamilton, Lluis Oviedo (Editor)

Research output: Other contribution

2 Scopus citations


Spanish language and literature, broadly defined, have a long history of engagement with religious and scientific thought. The Iberian Peninsula was an important Roman colony and home to well-known scholars of Antiquity including Seneca. The Middle Ages witnessed a cultural flourishing in Iberia marked by significant advancements in literature, language study, and in scientific and religious thought, producing some of the most influential Arab and Jewish thinkers of the period. Medieval and early modern Christian leaders and scholars, in both the Iberian Peninsula and beyond, were deeply indebted to the work of these Muslim and Jewish scholars from Spain, and their interpretations of and original writings based on the ideas of Aristotle bear the mark of these earlier generations of Arab and Jewish philosophers and exegetes. The age of Spanish imperialism and conquest (16th-18th centuries) is characterized by the humanism of Western Europe, but also the realities, aspirations and even anxieties of imperial expansion, framed by many Spanish intellectuals of the period as an expression of the will of God. The early modern period also witnessed advances in the study of the Spanish language as it became a tool for proselytization in new colonial territories. The fall of the Spanish Empire and loss of its colonies provoked a profound crisis in Spanish intellectual circles, and many Spanish thinkers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries looked to the literary production of earlier periods both for the reasons of the waning of Spanish political and cultural influence and for the creation of a modern national “Spanish” European identity. Nineteenth- and twentieth-century intellectuals in the former Spanish colonies of Latin America adopted European Enlightenment discourses as they forged literatures of independence. The twentieth century is defined in Spain by the fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco and much of the literary production of the period reflects his image of an orthodox Catholic nation. Since Franco’s death in 1975 religion has played a significantly lesser role in Spanish literature as Spain has taken the forefront among European nations in innovative scientific research. However, increased immigration from Africa, the Madrid train bombings of 2004, and Spanish involvement in Iraq as an ally of the U.S., have precipitated a pro-Christian, anti-Islamic reaction among some Spanish scholars and in public discourse.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Type: Reference Work


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