In 1976, Carlos Blanco Aguinaga (Irún, 1926 – San Diego, 2013), a professor of Spanish Literature at the University of California (San Diego) who lived in exile in Mexico and the USA following the Spanish Civil War, returned to Spain to teach seminars on literary theory and criticism. Seminar attendees Rafael Chirbes and Constantino Bértolo later acknowledged the vast impact of the encounter on intellectuals at the time. Two years later, Julio Rodríguez Puértolas, Iris M. Zavala and the aforementioned Carlos Blanco published A Social History of Spanish Literature (In the Spanish Language) (Castalia, 1978). Both the seminar and the manual shared the objective of reading the history of Spanish literature by underscoring its social aspects, and with the clear intention of moving beyond more traditional and anti-modern visions that were prevalent in the Hispanism of Francoism and the early years of the Transition to democracy in Spain. In parallel with a “democracy to come”, a “Hispanism to come” was also being forged.
Almost half a century later, this encounter takes over from that — still current and urgent — initiative to update its theoretical-critical tools and place them in dialogue with new methodologies and hypotheses. As a result, this conversation, open to the public, explores the tradition of literary analysis from a social perspective in a Hispanic context, welcoming three speakers and a moderator from university institutions and the sphere of publishing to discuss this key book in the tradition of Spanish literature.
Raquel Arias Careaga is a head professor of Hispano-American Literature at the Autonomous University of Madrid. Her research centres on Latin American authors from the second half of the 20th century, in addition to authors from Spanish literature, especially Benito Pérez Galdós and the generation of the Spanish Republic. She is the author of Escritoras españolas (1939-1975): poesía, novela y teatro (Laberinto, 2005) and Julio Cortázar. De la subversión literaria al compromiso político (Sílex, 2014).
Constantino Bértolo holds a degree in Spanish Studies from the Complutense University of Madrid. He has worked as a literary critic for newspapers such as El País and El Independiente, and the magazine El Urogallo. Between 1990 and 2003, Bértolo directed the publisher Debate and the publishing imprint Caballo de Troya (until 2014), and is the author of the books La cena de los notables (Periférica, 2008), El sentido del rencor (Delirio, 2018), ¿Quiénes somos? 55 libros de la literatura española del siglo XX (Periférica, 2021) and Una poética editorial (Trama, 2022).
José Luis Bellón Aguilera is a head professor of Literary History and Criticism at Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic). He has published monographs on Miguel Espinosa, Juan Marsé and Pseudo-Jenofonte, in addition to numerous articles, and has participated in projects on the reception of ancient democracy in literature and philosophy and political and social commitment in poetry.
David Becerra Mayor is a professor of Spanish Literature at the Autonomous University of Madrid. He is the author of, among other books, La novela de la no-ideología (Tierradenadie, 2013), La Guerra Civil como moda literaria (Clave Intelectual, 2015) and Después del acontecimiento (Bellaterra, 2021). He has also put together the critical edition of Armando López Salinas (Akal, 2013) and La consagración de la primavera by Alejo Carpentier (Akal, 2015), and is the director of Mecanoclastia, an essay collection by the publisher Hoja de Lata.