By David Rojinsky
This quantity lines a family tree of the various conceptions and features of alphabetic writing in Hispanic cultures of the pre-modern and early colonial classes. The old junctures chosen are these at which the written observe (in grammatical, ancient and criminal discourse) assumed elevated ideological value for bolstering other kinds of 'imperial' strength. In influence, Companion to Empire posits a constellation of ancient eventualities, instead of a novel legendary beginning during which the alliance among writing and imperium may be discerned. The corpus of basic texts thought of within the quantity derives from works through foundational figures within the background of pre-modern language theories (Isidore of Seville, Alfonso X the clever, Antonio de Nebrija) and from these pointed out with the early transatlantic enlargement of alphabetic writing (Peter Martyr D'Anghiera, Bernardino de Sahagún, Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán). by means of examining those canonical texts opposed to the grain, the writer avoids the totalizing gesture of histories of the language, and as a substitute focuses upon the connection among status written languages, the production of a 'literate mentality' and the necessity to consolidate imperium on each side of the Atlantic. Companion to Empire will hence be of curiosity to these adopting a 'post-philological' method of Hispanic experiences, in addition to these attracted to medieval and transatlantic imperium experiences.
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Extra resources for Companion to Empire: A Genealogy of the Written Word in Spain and New Spain, c.550 - 1550. (Foro Hispanico)
Hinc et monarchia dicitur. Monàs quippe singularitas Graeco nomine, arkhé principatus est. (Etymologiae 9. 3. 23) [Monarchs are those who have undisputed command, as Alexander did in the case of the Greeks and Julius in the case of the Romans. From this the word monarchy is derived. ] The apparent complexity of the usage attributed to imperium and the appearance of both regnum and monarchia in the history would perhaps be an indication of the paradox the Visigoths were confronted with when describing their struggle to assert political autonomy from the imperial power they nevertheless continued to imitate.
Having said that, it is also worth noting that the scorn poured upon Isidore of Seville by modern scholars for his adherence to a “hyper-Cratylian mimological” etymology (which permitted him to derive homo from humus, for example, because man had been formed from the soil of the earth), would also be replaced by praise of his method during the resurgence of interest in etymology in the sixteenth century (Eco 1995: 80–85). More importantly for my purposes here, however, is the fact that the inherited knowledge compiled in the Etymologiae still served to symbolize historical continuity between the Hispano-Roman present and antiquity, and, hence, the continued celebration of the ancient reverence for grammatica under Visigothic rule.
The written word is thus closely connected to memory, the remembrance of voices conveying knowledge, and identifying things and persons no longer present. Any reverential attitude towards the written word lay primarily in these mnemonic qualities: “Usus litterarum repertus propter memoriam rerum. Nam ne oblivione fugiant, litteris alligantur” [The use of letters was found so as to preserve the memory of things. For, so that they might not vanish into oblivion, things are tied to letters] (1.
Companion to Empire: A Genealogy of the Written Word in Spain and New Spain, c.550 - 1550. (Foro Hispanico) by David Rojinsky