Sabbatical Report by J0vi4YEw


									Sabbatical Report
Dr. Henry Thurston-Griswold
Department of World Languages & Cultures
Submitted September 27, 2001


My research project is titled “Ideological and Aesthetic Shift in Fin de Siglo Spain (1890-
1905). The fundamental assumption under which I operate is that there is an integral
relationship between the ideological lenses with which one views the world and the
literature that one cultivates. Change in the prevailing intellectual paradigm(s) will
trigger a new narrative aesthetic which reflects that transformed world view. In this
project, I analyze the ideological and aesthetic changes that take place in fin de siglo
Spain through an examination of the textual production of two heterogeneous groups of
four writers. The authors, generally lumped together into opposing camps according to
the generational paradigm which has prevailed for the better part of the twentieth century
among literary historians, are: 1) Juan Valera, Benito Pérez Galdós, Leopoldo Alas,
Emilia Pardo Bazán; and 2) Miguel de Unamuno, Ramón del Valle-Inclán, Pío Baroja,
and José Martínez Ruiz. My analysis seeks to document the diverse forms of ideological
and aesthetic shift that take place during the period between 1890 and 1905, but I also
explore the oft overlooked elements of continuity which bridge the gaps of time and
individual differences in style and substance.

The first four writers are traditionally classified under the banner of Spanish realist
narrative and are sometimes referred to as members of the Generation of 1868, while the
second form the narrative core of the so-called Generation of 1898. The former group’s
mature narrative coincides with the emergence of the novel as the dominant literary genre
in Spain during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The latter’s early production
appears during the sociopolitical crisis that culminates in the Spanish American War of
1898, and their literary oeuvre is often rated as second only to that of Golden Age writers
such as Cervantes and Lope de Vega in the annals of Spanish letters. I conducted
research in several periodicals archives and libraries in Madrid in order to examine the
journalistic writings of both groups between the years 1890 and 1905. The analysis of
these writings on a variety of topics— philosophy, history, literary criticism, politics,
economic issues, current events, etc.—and additional readings from secondary sources
serve as the basis for defining the ideological and aesthetic stances of the eight writers
during this critical period. While the journalistic writings of several of these writers have
been included in their complete works, in the majority of the cases, the articles are only
available in specialized archives such as the Hemeroteca Municipal of Madrid and in a
few major research libraries, chief among them the National Library.

The aesthetic component is further developed through the comparative and contrastive
analysis of four pairs of novels, matching writers from the two “generations.” This
textual analysis of selected novels—which in most cases have seldom or never been
studied together—enables me to illustrate the ideological and aesthetic shifts as well as

the elements of continuity manifested in the literary practice of these key authors. The
first pair matches the most prolific and arguably the preeminent novelists of each group,
Benito Pérez Galdós and Pío Baroja. The second pairs the two intellectual leaders and
academicians of their respective groups, Leopoldo Alas (better known by his literary
pseudonym, Clarín) and Miguel de Unamuno. The third juxtaposes the two who are
recognized as the outstanding prose stylists of their time, Juan Valera and José Martínez
Ruiz (generally referred to by his nom de plume, Azorín). The final pairing matches the
two Galician writers, Emilia Pardo Bazán and Ramón del Valle-Inclán, whose
marginalized geographic status is echoed by the distancing produced by gender in the
former’s case and politics in the latter’s. The dates that the novels (Misericordia, Su
único hijo, Morsamor, and La quimera) of the senior group were published range from
1891 to 1904. The four novels (Camino de perfección, Amor y pedagogía, La voluntad,
and Sonata de otoño) written by the younger group of writers were all published in 1902,
and are generally considered to signal a definitive departure for Spanish narrative from
the realist aesthetic that dominated the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In addition
to the formal changes that can be examined in literary aesthetics, I focus in particular on
the moral/religious values and the representation of women and gender roles inscribed in
the texts. The novels in question lend themselves to this type of ideological focus, and
my analysis attempts to illuminate and critique the multiple ideological and artistic
responses triggered by the profound sociopolitical, economic, and moral crisis which
shook Spain at the end of the nineteenth century.


I spent a total of six months in Spain, and the vast majority of my research was conducted
in the National Library, the premiere research institution in Spain. It should be noted at
the outset that my original proposal was to take a full year’s sabbatical for this project,
and the timetable for concluding it was a rather optimistic two-year period, by which time
I hoped to be able to publish a monograph on the topic. However, because I was unable
to secure a fellowship to financially afford the second semester, I only took a semester’s
sabbatical, which I extended by staying on into the early summer. Still, it was impossible
to complete all the research for the project, and in fact, in the case of two of the writers, I
found much more to read than I had anticipated. In short, I completed the primary
research on six of the eight authors (i.e., their journalistic production between the years
1890 and 1905), but would need at least six months more of fulltime study to conclude
the primary research on the two remaining authors and to complete the secondary
readings required.

While in Spain, I also engaged in two other types of professional activities. The first had
to do with gathering materials to be used in updating my Spanish courses. The two
primary beneficiaries of this activity are the Contemporary Spain course which I will
offer during the Spring 2002 semester and the 20th-Century Spanish Novel course, which
will be offered in the fall of 2002. For the former, I gathered hundreds of newspaper and
magazine articles, acquired several good reference works, attended a variety of cultural
events, and visited numerous cultural venues. For the latter, I purchased approximately

twenty Spanish novels published within the last twenty years, during which time Spanish
narrative fiction has boomed. For next fall, I plan to begin the course with the novel of
the post-Spanish Civil War period of the 1940s and incorporate at least three of the
contemporary novels which I acquired during my sabbatical.

The other type of activity in which I engaged was to visit three study abroad sites for the
College. In March, I visited Universitat Jaume I in Castellón, located on the
Mediterranean coast between Valencia and Barcelona, to explore the possibility of
establishing a direct exchange as well as a 3-2 master’s program in peace and
development in conjunction with Juniata’s peace and conflict studies program. In April, I
visited Universidad Pablo de Olavide in Sevilla to pursue a possible direct exchange with
this recently established public university. Finally, in May I traveled to Barcelona to
assess the BCA program at the University of Barcelona.


As indicated above, I completed the primary research on six of the eight authors who
form part of my project, which amounts to approximately 300 pages of single-spaced,
typed notes on the readings completed. This research will serve as the basis for a number
of conference papers and articles over the next several years. However, I have decided
not to follow the route of preparing and attempting to publish a monograph on the topic.
Bringing such a major research project to a successful conclusion could only be achieved
at the expense of other professional activities, and I am more interested in focusing my
professional development activities at this point on projects that involve and benefit my
students more directly.

Despite the fact that I have decided not to pursue my original objective with this project, I
consider the time to have been very well spent. I will be able to incorporate readings and
reflections into several of my Spanish literature courses, namely, the special topics course
that I have taught twice and plan to introduce as a regular course offering on the
Generation of 1898, and a special topics course that I will offer in the spring on Spanish
Realist Fiction. And as a professor of Spanish, the opportunity to immerse myself in the
language and culture for six months was invaluable. My last trip to Spain was back in the
summer of 1993, during which time I researched and gathered materials for the
development of the Contemporary Spain course. My sabbatical has enabled me to
experience firsthand the changes that have taken place since then and update my
materials and information.

During the spring semester, I will offer a Bookend Seminar in which I present some of
the fruits of my research to colleagues and students. My students will also benefit from
having a professor returning to the classroom reinvigorated and excited about sharing
experiences, knowledge, and realia acquired during the sabbatical semester. I am also
better equipped to advise my students about study abroad options in Spain as a result of
my visits to the University of Barcelona and Universidad Pablo de Olavide.


I plan to continue studying the topic of ideological and aesthetic shift and continuity
during this period in Spanish narrative, but will likely focus it initially on the pairs of
authors and novels that I outlined in the first section of this report. One additional idea
that was sparked by my readings was to develop a special topics course on one of the
authors, Benito Pérez Galdós, widely regarded as second only to Cervantes among
Spanish novelists. I thoroughly enjoyed rediscovering Galdós, with whom I have not
worked during my nine years at Juniata, and look forward to developing a course in the
not too distant future which examines the key role that he played in the renaissance of the
novel and the reform of theater in Spain during the last three decades of the nineteenth

In closing, I wish to express my appreciation to my colleagues, the administration, and
the Board of Trustees for their support of my professional development activities. Given
the time-intensive nature of the teaching profession and the diverse fields in which one
must develop and maintain expertise, the sabbatical experience is essential in enabling
faculty to continue to grow professionally and to model for students the value of a liberal
arts education and a life devoted to “the empowering richness of the mind.” I return to
the classroom revitalized and with a renewed commitment to the educational mission that
we all share, and for that I am grateful.

Respectfully submitted,

Dr. Henry Thurston-Griswold
Professor of Spanish

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