Iberian Modernist Studies Forum

The Iberian Modernist Studies Forum is co-directed by Nicolás Fernández-Medina and Krista Brune. The Forum draws together faculty and students from Penn State and across the globe interested in cross-and multidisciplinary dialogue on the aesthetic, socio-historical, and philosophical transformations that fundamentally shaped Iberian culture throughout the modernist period. Through its activities and outreach, the Forum offers a view of Iberian modernisms that differs from traditional perspective, which are generally centered on separately treating the national cultures of the Iberian Peninsula. Our goal lies in approaching the cultures of Portugal, Spanish-speaking Spain, Catalonia, Galicia, and the Basque Country through dialogue and by studying their cultural exchanges and points of contact. Ultimately, the Forum embraces all of these modernisms by means of their inherent multidisciplinarity.

The Comparative Iberian Modernisms Colloquia, 2021-22

Given the success of the 2020-21 Collaborative Colloquia titled Comparative Iberian Modernisms: Unamuno and Pessoa in Dialogue, the Iberian Modernist Studies Forum, in collaboration with the Humanities Institute, will deepen its analysis of the definition of Iberian modernisms through Unamuno’s and Pessoa’s work.

The upcoming cycle constitutes the second and final installment of the Unamuno/Pessoa series. Titled Comparative Iberian Modernisms: The Afterlives of Pessoa 2Unamuno and Pessoa, the cycle will tackle one of the most intriguing considerations that came out of the 2020-21 colloquia: how Unamuno’s and Pessoa’s life and work have been nationalized, and even commodified, in the Iberian sociocultural imaginary within the last 30 to 40 years.

In the past decades, Unamuno’s and Pessoa’s modernist works—and, indeed, their very images as Iberian intellectuals—have risen to both a symbolic and commercial prominence. Clearly, this has involved a reconceptualization of not only Iberian modernisms, but also what Iberianism means exactly, particularly given that both authors used their works as vehicles to reflect upon the nation and Iberian identity. What is interesting is how Unamuno and Pessoa have come to represent nationalist—even patriotic—ideals of Spanishness, Portugueseness, and even Iberianness through processes of cultural reinvention, even though their writings express ambivalent and, oftentimes, critical views of concepts such as nation, identity, and self.

For more information, please contact the Forum or visit the Humanities Institute at Penn State.

–Fall Colloquia 2021

Monday, October 18 @ 4pm – Presentation: “The Lives and Afterlives of Fernando Pessoa: A Conversation with Richard Zenith.” Guest speaker: Richard Zenith, American-Portuguese writer and translator.

Monday, November 8 @ 4pm – Presentation: “Unamuno and the Ontological Status of God and Other Fictional Characters.” Guest speaker: Alberto Oya, Instituto de Filosofia da Nova (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) & ArgLab – Lisbon Mind and Reasoning Research Group.

The Comparative Iberian Modernisms Colloquia, 2020-21

In collaboration with the Humanities Institute, the forum will spearhead the Comparative Iberian Modernisms Colloquia, which will examine a series of SantaRita2modernist texts in translation from Iberia’s diverse cultures and consider them within the broader framework of global modernisms. Over the span of six meetings throughout the 2020-21 academic year, we will bring into conversation two pioneering figures in Spanish/Basque and Portuguese modernisms: Miguel de Unamuno and Fernando Pessoa. By placing Unamuno and Pessoa in a comparative framework, the colloquia will offer participants the unique opportunity to explore how Spanish and Portuguese intellectuals engaged not only the construction of their modernist identities during a period of unprecedented change, but also important aesthetic and philosophical concerns that radically impacted concepts of the modern, including the crises of representation and subjectivity, the disenchantment with science, the rise of irrationality, the extremes of nihilism, and the devaluation of objectivity. In each meeting, participants will benefit not only from the contributions of invited speakers and guests, but also from collaborations with other departments and units. For more information, please contact the Forum or visit the Humanities Institute at Penn State.

–Spring Colloquia 2021

Monday, April 5 @ 4pm – Presentation: “Queer Iberian Intersections of Fernando Pessoa et al.” Guest speaker: Anna M. Klobucka, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Discussion to follow.

Monday, February 8 @ 4pm – Presentation: “Fernando Pessoa’s legacy after the Carnation Revolution (April 25, 1974) in Portugal.” Guest speaker: Ellen Sapega, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Discussion to follow.

–Fall Colloquia 2020

Monday, November 16 @ 4pm – Presentation: “Miguel de Unamuno and the Redemption of Antero de Quental,” by Robert Patrick Newcomb, University of California Davis. Discussion to follow.

Monday, October 26 @ 4pm – Presentation: “Contexts and Pretexts of Unamuno’s Mist,” by Juan Herrero-Senés, University of Colorado, Boulder. Discussion to follow.

Monday, September 28 @ 4pm – Discussion of Unamuno’s How to Make a Novel and Pessoa’s Selected Prose. Guest speaker: Luis Álvarez Castro, University of Florida.