The Hispanic Institute Between the Wars (Digital Exhibit) – International Research Weblog

In 1920 Federico de Onís together with different teachers established the Hispanic Institute for Latin American & Iberian Cultures at Columbia College (initially named the Instituto de las Españas) with the intent to disseminate analysis on Iberian and Latin American cultures in all their manifestations and to advertise educational and social occasions that showcase new contributions to Latin American and Iberian cultural manufacturing in Europe, Latin America, and the US. The not too long ago launched centennial exhibit The Hispanic Institute Between the Wars: The Making of Cultural Networks showcases materials from the Uncommon Guide & Manuscript Library, the Barnard Archives & Particular Collections, and the overall Columbia Libraries assortment to disclose the origins of Spanish instruction at Columbia and the broadening of this effort in the course of the interwar years.

The exhibit explores the Institute’s contributions inside Columbia, the broader seminal affect it has had within the founding of Hispanism and Lusophone research within the American academy, and the pivotal function it has performed in fostering cultural alternate and mediating engagement with teachers, writers, and artists overseas and at residence. The exhibit additionally highlights the geopolitical dimension of the Institute and its strategic positioning between the financial expansionism of the US in Latin America and the venture of cultural revitalization of Spain after the lack of its colonies.

In 1916 Columbia College President Nicholas Butler wrote a letter to Federico de Onís, a younger however already established professor on the College of Salamanca who had ties to different educational establishments in Spain. Butler expressed his want to make Columbia “the main middle of Spanish research on this continent” and he needed de Onís to arrange and direct graduate and superior research in Spanish at Columbia. This recruitment occurred within the context of rising enrollment in Spanish and Portuguese programs on the college and a “real Renaissance of Spanish within the North American Continent” that in this identical interval introduced many professors from Spain to the US to determine most of the at present present Spanish and Portuguese Departments in American universities, particularly these within the Northeast. The Panama Canal had opened just some years earlier than Butler wrote to recruit de Onís and undoubtedly driving this renaissance was the opening of Latin American markets and trade.

The positioning of the institute in New York Metropolis and at Columbia had many benefits together with lengthy established Spanish talking communities all through the town, the wealth of assets Archer Huntington was amassing on the Hispanic Society simply a few miles uptown, and the cultural and business connections the town had with Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. Whereas the determine of Federico de Onís looms massive on this historical past the exhibit pays particular consideration to the institution of networks inside the metropolis, the nation and overseas that bolstered and sustained this cultural and educational venture.

The exhibit was curated by Felipe Becerra, PhD Candidate in Latin American and Iberian Cultures and Sócrates Silva, Latin American & Iberian Research Librarian at Columbia College. For inquiries concerning the exhibit please contact Felipe Becerra at and/or Sócrates Silva at

In 1923, the Romance Languages Division invited a corps of overseas professors to present a sequence of programs in the course of the Summer season Periods. Standing (left to proper): Profs. Federico de Onís, Raoul Blanchard, Edouard Le Roy, and J. L. Gerig. Seated (left to proper): Profs. Joseph Bédier, Emile Bourgeois, Giuseppe Prezzolini, and Paul Hazard.

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