This conference will celebrate the life and work of renowned Hispanist George Ticknor ‘1807, as well as his scholarly legacy.
This conference will celebrate the life and work of renowned Hispanist George Ticknor ‘1807, as well as his scholarly legacy. His love for classical and modern languages started at Dartmouth in 1805-07. He completed his education with one of the most influential literary historians of the day, Friedrich Bouterwek at University of Göttingen in Germany (1814-1818). After travelling to France, Spain and Portugal, Ticknor returned to the US to become the first Professor of French and Spanish of the newly created Smith Professorship of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard College in 1819. From that position and during almost two decades, Ticknor greatly contributed to strengthening the study of modern languages and literatures and their inclusion in the Harvard curriculum, a consequential step that was followed by the most prominent institutions of higher education in the US during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of his works include his lecture on “The Best Methods of Teaching the Living Languages” (1832) and his monumental History of Spanish Literature, 3 vols. (1849). Ticknor’s History, based on the German idealist notion of national literatures, had an enormous influence. Translated into Spanish and French, it was adopted in Europe and the United States as the main guide for the study of Spanish Literature. Ticknor was also a prominent figure in the cultural scene of his native Boston. Part of his impressive personal library was bequeathed to the newly created Boston Public Library in 1852, an institution he helped establish. Other important figures very much influenced by Ticknor were Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who succeed him at the Smith Professorship, and historian William H. Prescott (a pioneer of modern historiographical research in the United States who published a seminal work on the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, as well as groundbreaking books about the conquest of Mexico and Peru). The conference will also pay attention to the figures of other American scholars, book collectors and philanthropists whose activities helped promote and disseminate Hispanic letters, arts, and culture in the United States, in particular the founder of the Hispanic Society of America, Archer Milton Huntington.
A group of notable specialists in the field, plus a cohort of Dartmouth colleagues will participate in studying the contributions of Ticknor and his circle to the establishment of the study of modern languages and the consolidation of literary history and philology in American universities, dominant trends until a few decades ago. In addition to this central perspective, participants will also expand this debate to other areas less developed in Ticknor’s time, like the literary production of Latin American countries as well as the contested notion of Hispanismo.
This event is sponsored by Dartmouth 250 Anniversary Initiative, Department of Spanish and Portugese, the Leslie Center for the huamnities, and DCAL
Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.