Mesa R

Mesa R

Lawwrence J. McCrank

M. Interdisciplinarity under debate

R. Future of Spanish Historiography

The American School of Medieval Iberian History has made

significant contributions of Spanish historiography, often from a

viewpoint unique to American sensibilities. One can detect stages in

the development of Luso-Hispoanic studies in the United States, from the

turn of the century when only a small circle of historians pioneered in

peninsular studies differently than these had been pursued in the

previous century. The Harvard incubus was important, but this field

remained highly specialized and relatively late in development compared

with other medieval geo-chronological specializations. One might note

the career of Charles Julian Bishko, for example, who was often dubbed

the Dean of medieval Hispanists by American scholars before he was

inducted into the Order of Isabela la Catolica. A second fount was the

import of emigree scholars from Spain and Latin America, into both

History and Spanish Literature, and the growth of historicism in Spanish

literary studies, epitomized by the Americo Castro debates with Sanchez

Albornoz, but also the Hispanic seminar at the University of Wisconsin,

and the pervasive influence of John E. Keller and his colleagues at the

Universities of Kentucky and North Carolina. Princeton University, a

medieval history center since Joseph Strayer, has attracted young

East-cost scholars whose ethnic interests have led them into the

Mediterranean world and to Spain and Portugal. In other cases, studies

centers can be identified in non-East coast establishments... the

universities of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, etc., and Minnesota

as well, from which noteworthy historians have emerged. Finally, the

impact of New World ethnology on Old World History cannot be overlooked,

epitomized in the prodigious studies of Fr. Robert I. Burns, SJ and the

production of thirty Hispanic medievalists at UCLA in the last two


Despite a history of luminaries, identifiable centers with

periods of productivity, and a coterie of scholars in the American

Association of Research Historians of Medieval Spain (AARHMS), the field

of medieval Luso-Hispanic studies in the U.S. is unstable and without a

sure future, based as it has been around charismatic productive scholars

rather than institutional commitments and fiscally-sound research

centers. Despite creatively and noted contributions, the field may be

seen as peripatetic rather than firmly established, and its interaction

with peninsular centers, scholars, and historiography, has been less than

one might have expected. Why? What obstacles are to be faced by the

next generation of scholars in the US seeking to study peninsular

history. What has been the reception of Spanish Hispanists to foreign

scholars from the Anglo-American world? How are attitudes changing

today? What possibilities are there for more interaction, collaboration,

and institutional cooperation?