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Seeing the Nation

Workshop 2: Seeing the Nation: Art and Imagining in Nineteenth-Century Spanish America

University of Essex, 18th-19th September 2009

Workshop 2 will explore literary and visual manifestations of costumbrismo, a distinctive nineteenth-century art-form devoted to cataloguing ‘national types’. The first half-century after independence produced an outpouring of visual material dedicated to illustrating the nature and customs of the new Spanish American republics. Travellers from Europe and the USA, together with local artists, produced a rich variety of images, which were eagerly devoured by their respective publics. Costumbrismo was also a dominant literary form during much of the nineteenth century. The workshop will therefore consider the intersections between visual and literary representations of the nation and its inhabitants, and will explore the methodological benefits to be gained from studying this genre in an interdisciplinary context.

The University of Essex

The University of Essex has an international reputation for the quality of its research and teaching. The University has 18 departments spanning the humanities, social sciences and science and engineering. There are currently around 7,500 students at the University, 22% of these within the Graduate School. In recent assessments Essex has regularly ranked among the top twelve UK universities for the quality of its research, with many departments rated as 'outstanding' by international standards. The Latin American Centre provides a focus for interdisciplinary collaborations between staff with research interests in Latin America, and the University has a long tradition of high-quality research into different aspects of the politics, history and culture of the region. The Department of Art History is a world leader in the field of Latin American art.

The network’s second workshop will take place in Firstsite, the new contemporary arts space designed by the Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly, which will open in Colchester in 2008. The building will include a Resource Centre for Latin American art, and a selection of works from the University of Essex collection will be displayed during the workshop. (See

Alcide D 



Rugendas Costumes Riojaneiros

Claudio Gay, Familia Mapuche