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Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities

Pérez de Ayala Lecture

Published: 31 January 2015

The Ramón Pérez de Ayala Biennial Lecture is supported by the Cultural Office of the Spanish Embassy and honours the life and work of Ramón Pérez de Ayala (1881-1952), novelist, poet and critic, and Ambassador to the Court of St James under the Second Spanish Republic in the years 1931-1936.

The Lecture was inaugurated in 1994 and takes place in alternate years at the Universities of Portsmouth and Southampton. It is intended that the Lecture should serve at once as a celebration of the contribution of the Universities of Portsmouth and Southampton to Spanish Studies in the United Kingdom and as a means of bringing together the academic and civic communities of the two cities.

Felipe Fernández-Armesto, author of Our America: a Hispanic History of the United States. "An eminent scholar finds a new American history in the Hispanic past of our diverse nation. The United States is still typically conceived of as an offshoot of England, with our history unfolding east to west beginning with the first English settlers in Jamestown. This view overlooks the significance of America’s Hispanic past. With the profile of the United States increasingly Hispanic, the importance of recovering the Hispanic dimension to our national story has never been greater.

This absorbing narrative begins with the explorers and conquistadores who planted Spain’s first colonies in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Southwest. Missionaries and rancheros carry Spain’s expansive impulse into the late eighteenth century, settling California, mapping the American interior to the Rockies, and charting the Pacific coast. During the nineteenth century Anglo-America expands west under the banner of “Manifest Destiny” and consolidates control through war with Mexico. In the Hispanic resurgence that follows, it is the peoples of Latin America who overspread the continent, from the Hispanic heartland in the West to major cities such as Chicago, Miami, New York, and Boston. The United States clearly has a Hispanic present and future. And here is its Hispanic past, presented with characteristic insight and wit by one of our greatest historians.

Fernández-Armesto will be talking about the (real) Spanish in the US at the Ramón Pérez de Ayala Biennial Lecture on 2nd March

Endorsements & Reviews

“With a lucid, engaging style, [Fernández-Armesto] seeks to understand the continuity between the Spanish colonization and the fight for justice led by the Chicano movement in the sixties and by immigration advocates today…This is an invitation to look at America in full!” — Ilan Stavans, general editor of The Norton Anthology of Latino History

“In enviably lyrical prose, Felipe Fernández-Armesto has written a bold and compelling synthesis of our nation’s Hispanic past, from the Spanish arrival in the late fifteenth century to the current and contentious debate over immigration reform. Marshaling famous and forgotten individuals and events, he reminds us that there is much more to America’s story than simply Massachusetts Pilgrims and Virginia Cavaliers.” — Andrew R. Graybill, director, Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University

“A rich and moving chronicle …. Perhaps the first history to make the case for this nation’s becoming a bright Latin American country.” — Julio Ortega, New York Times Book Review

“Exceedingly well-written and engaging.” — Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times

“Triumphantly rescues Hispanic America from obscurity.” — The Economist

“A valuable contribution to those seeking a broader understanding of U.S. history.” — Janet Napolitano, The Wall Street Journal

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