16 May 2002 - 17 May 2002 All day Clare College, Cambridge


Latimer Room, Clare College, Cambridge
Conference co-sponsored by CRASSH (University of Cambridge) and the University of Bradford

This interdisciplinary conference brings together scholars working on Spanish history and culture, the history of science and medicine, and intellectual history. The papers offered demonstrate the inter-permeability of these diverse fields, and cut across pre-existing concepts about Spain, its culture and history, in the first half of the twentieth century.

Dr Alison Sinclair, Clare College, Cambridge
Dr Richard Cleminson, Department of Modern Languages, University of Bradford

Anja Louis (Birkbeck College, University of London)
Whose melodrama is it anyway?: Women and the law in de Burgos’s novellas

The title of this paper suggests a correlation between melodrama and law, and yet at first sight nothing could be more diametrically opposed: the former is a literary genre associated with the feminine because of its concern with the display of emotion, while the latter is a system of patriarchal control, using apparent rationality as its most crucial characteristic. Yet, both law and melodrama converge on their use of binary oppositions as a mode of representation, their potential for social change and their focus on the conflict of human relationships. It is these convergences, amongst other things, that this paper examines.

Using melodrama theory, in particular Peter Brooks’ The Melodramatic Imagination, and feminist legal theory as my theoretical framework, I will analyse the novellas of legal critique by early twentieth-century Spanish feminist campaigner Carmen de Burgos (1867-1923). De Burgos used melodrama as a political vehicle to disseminate feminist propaganda drawing attention to the precarious legal situation women were subjected to. I will argue that de Burgos not only subverts melodrama by appropriating it for a feminist discourse, but also intelligently used a genre based on manichean worldviews in order to criticise a legal system of melodramatic proportions, using the very construction of reality that is criticised.

Richard Cleminson (University of Bradford)
Making Sense of the Body: anarchism, vegetarianism, nudism and ‘experiential subjectivity’

Recently, anarchism in Spain has been described as harbouring "an always inchoate anti-statist challenge" (Graham & Labanyi, Spanish Cultural Studies, 1995: 16). This paper, while not simply arguing that the anarchists’ challenge was coherent, complete or well advanced, seeks to examine the anarchists’ attempt as a process rather than a finished product, an attempt to construct what they believed to be a coherent plan for individual and social change. Recalling the words of E.P. Thompson, according to whom the members of the English working class whom he studied held ideas that ‘made sense to them at the time’, I will try not to restore sense to the anarchists but to see how the process of making sense to them was shaped by the politics and possibilities of the time.

I propose to do this by examining the ‘experience’ of anarchists with respect to the advocacy and practice of vegetarianism and nudism and the effects of these practices on the way they understood the body. On the way, I do not take experience to be pre-discursive or foundational, to be telling the truth about anarchist bodies, merely to be read by the historian, but as a set of feelings, suppositions and materialities that anarchists constructed or articulated around the body and made sense of within a particular framework.

This paper examines the usefulness of the term ‘experience’ in understanding specific cultural/political practices, assesses the ways in which individuals and groups ‘made sense’ of their social world by advocating radical ideas and lifestyles, and contributes to an analysis of the uptake of number of ideas and practices with respect to the body in the early twentieth century.

Tom Glick (University of Boston)
Marañón, Freud and Intersexuality: The Biological Construction of Gender in Spain of the 1920s

Marañón (1887-1960), an endocrinologist, was the titular head of the Madrid chapter of the WLSR. He represented the liberal-conservative, pro-natalist reform ideology of the Republican political elite. Here I will explore the intellectual history and scientific bases of Marañón’s views on sexual dimorphism and secondary sexual characteristics and their broadly Darwinian and Spencerian logic, as they informed his reformist program. My analysis will center on his influential monograph, "La evolucion de la sexualidad y los estados intersexuales".

Michael Richards (School of History, University of the West of England, Bristol)
Mind and Body in Spain in the early twentieth century: psychiatric and endocrinologist thought, discourse and practice

One analytical device to explain the development of psychiatry in Spain is to establish opposing schools based on different cultures. In the first third of the twentieth century it is possible to discuss psychiatry in relation to the classical ‘two Spains’ model centred on ‘tradition’ (or ‘backwardness’) and ‘modernity’. This paper argues that this distinction is merely a useful starting point.

Two psychiatric ‘schools’ will be defined: the organic, histological Madrid ‘school’ which would incorporate ideas from new disciplines like endocrinology and military psychiatry, and the Barcelona ‘school’ which had a strong psychological direction. The Madrid school had, since around the time of the First World War, gained the upper hand from Barcelona where theory and practice was exemplified in the work of Emilio Mira López (1896-1964), an early Spanish exponent of psycho-analysis.

These two groups can only be aligned loosely with Catholicism and free-thought, respectively. Anti-clericalism was one obvious point of disagreement. Countering this, however, the concept of gender will be used as an example in this paper to suggest that important similarities between the psychiatric discourse and practice of militarist-Catholic nationalism and liberalism existed. A crucial link here is the thought and practice of the liberal endocrinologist Gregorio Marañón (1887-1960). Opposition to the liberal concept of morality and biology was formally located in neo-Thomist Catholicism, but, in fact, shared many common beliefs.

Sarah Wright (Dept of Modern Languages, University of Hull)
Gregorio Marañón: The Psychopathology of Don Juan

This paper will discuss the work of Spanish physician and clinician Gregorio Marañón (1887-1960) and his enduring fascination with the Don Juan figure, the eponymous serial seducer. It will examine aspects of Marañón’s clinical theory as well as his literary analysis, touching on endocrinology, morphology, gender and sexuality and will focus on the productive intersections between art and science, myth and medical history.

Alison Sinclair (Clare College, Cambridge)
Intimate connexions and shared sensibilities in the Residencia de Estudiantes: aims, ethos, texts and subtexts

A prime instrument in the fostering of cultural contacts between Spain and elsewhere was the Residencia de Estudiantes. This paper aims to re-examine its aims, its ethos, and its subtexts. The offshoot of the revolutionary educational establishment of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza, the Residencia has entered the Spanish national imaginary as home to Lorca, forum for elite educational contacts. The question raised by its existence is the degree to which it was, like the Institución that brought it to being, a counter-establishment element of the country, allowing dissent and intellectual exploration to be aired, and the extent to which it was, in its own way, a world that tuned and refined cultural sensibilities. Crucial to the fostering of the atmosphere of the Residencia is, arguably, the English input. Cultural contacts between the two countries were fostered by the Residencia, allowing scholarly exchange schemes. But was the result the exchange of political ideas, or the sharing of poetic sensitivities? Was it a meeting of social realities, or the place that provided for the intimacy of side-stepping mainline social norms and developments? Given the enthusiasm (little acknowledged) in Spain for English progressive education (more than the German model so advocated by Ortega), it is perhaps little surprising that some of the waywardness and sensibilities of the Bloomsbury set should also have been communicated in this refined cultural exchange. Evidence brought forward in this discussion will include the nature of the Residencia’s publication, Residencia, and the range of articles (with their accompanying visual images).

Peter Anderson (Royal Holloway)
The Shaping of Memory in 1940s Spain

The perception of Spain as other has impeded the study of the shaping of memory in 1940s Spain. The Franco regime perpetuated a memory based on the primitive national character or the need to destroy European liberalism. Many historians, in contrast, have silenced the past with a view to European integration or concentrated on demonstrating the European nature of the fascist repression and the ‘extirpation’ of memory. All these intellectual developments have neglected the role of ordinary people in composing memories within the dominant discourse.

The paper will argue that by focusing on the way everyday culture allowed for a public expression of memories outside the dominant memory, dissent can be seen to occupy an important part in the memory shaping process. These power relations will be explored through work dealing with civilian justice in the 1940s and comparisons with other European experiences.



Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk