The Global Lettered City: Humanism and Empire in Colonial Latin America and the Early Modern World
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CitationMcManus, Stuart Michael. 2016. The Global Lettered City: Humanism and Empire in Colonial Latin America and the Early Modern World. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractHistorians have long recognized the symbiotic relationship between learned culture, urban life and Iberian expansion in the creation of “Latin” America out of the ruins of pre-Columbian polities, a process described most famously by Ángel Rama in his account of the “lettered city” (ciudad letrada). This dissertation argues that this was part of a larger global process in Latin America, Iberian Asia, Spanish North Africa, British North America and Europe. It is thus a study of the “global lettered city,” known to contemporaries as the “republic of letters,” from its rapid expansion in the sixteenth century to its reordering in the Enlightenment and the Age of Revolutions with a particular focus on the function of its key scholarly-literary practice, classicizing rhetoric and oratory as revived by renaissance humanists.
This dissertation is divided into five chapters. In Chapter 1, I argue that renaissance humanism and classical rhetoric played a pivotal role in shaping and diffusing the political ideology of the global Spanish Monarchy. As the centerpieces of multisensory Baroque rituals regularly celebrated in urban centers, such as Mexico City, Lima, and Manila, classicizing orations and sermons bolstered the Spanish Monarchy through appeals to Greco-Roman imperial models and Christian humanist ideas of virtue. In the same vein, in Chapter Two, I argue that classical rhetoric was an instrument of global spiritual conquest on the Jesuit route from Rome to Japan.
This dissertation then treats some less well-known applications of humanism and the classical rhetorical tradition, cultural practices that also served to undermine or even directly oppose European imperial ambitions. In Chapter 3, I examine the role of late-humanist eloquence and erudition in the expression of a local “Mexican” identity. In Chapter 4, I show that late-humanism served to build community in Benjamin Franklin’s quarter of the “global lettered city.” Finally, in Chapter 5, I examine the role of post-humanist classicizing rhetoric in the articulation of radical political and social ideas in Age of Revolutions. In preparing this global history, I have examined primary sources in thirteen countries.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493519
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