The Spanish Craze


The Spanish Craze

America's Fascination with the Hispanic World, 1779–1939

Richard L. Kagan

640 pages
8 color plates, 50 photographs, 40 illustrations, 2 maps, index


March 2019


$39.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2019


$39.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2019


$39.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Spanish Craze is the compelling story of the centuries-long U.S. fascination with the history, literature, art, culture, and architecture of Spain. Richard L. Kagan offers a stunningly revisionist understanding of the origins of hispanidad in America, tracing its origins from the early republic to the New Deal.

As Spanish power and influence waned in the Atlantic World by the eighteenth century, her rivals created the “Black Legend,” which promoted an image of Spain as a dead and lost civilization rife with innate cruelty and cultural and religious backwardness. The Black Legend and its ambivalences influenced Americans throughout the nineteenth century, reaching a high pitch in the Spanish-American War of 1898. However, the Black Legend retreated soon thereafter, and Spanish culture and heritage became attractive to Americans for its perceived authenticity and antimodernism.

Although the Spanish craze infected regions where the Spanish New World presence was most felt—California, the American Southwest, Texas, and Florida—there were also early, quite serious flare-ups of the craze in Chicago, New York, and New England. Kagan revisits early interest in Hispanism among elites such as the Boston book dealer Obadiah Rich, a specialist in the early history of the Americas, and the writers Washington Irving and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He also considers later enthusiasts such as Angeleno Charles Lummis and the many writers, artists, and architects of the modern Spanish Colonial Revival in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Spain’s political and cultural elites understood that the promotion of Spanish culture in the United States and the Western Hemisphere in general would help overcome imperial defeats while uniting Spaniards and those of Spanish descent into a singular raza whose shared characteristics and interests transcended national boundaries.

With elegant prose and verve, The Spanish Craze spans centuries and provides a captivating glimpse into distinct facets of Hispanism in monuments, buildings, and private homes; the visual, performing, and cinematic arts; and the literature, travel journals, and letters of its enthusiasts in the United States.

Author Bio

Richard L. Kagan is the emeritus Arthur O. Lovejoy Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of numerous books, including Clio and the Crown: The Politics of History in Medieval and Early Modern Spain and Urban Images of the Hispanic World, 1493–1793.


"Spanish Craze: America's Fascination with the Hispanic World, 1779–1939 makes an important argument for understanding the influence of Spain, beyond Britain, France, and Germany, in shaping American cultural identity."—Katherine Sarah Massoth, Journal of Southern History

"Interesting reading for students of cultural history as well as Spanish-American relations over the centuries."—Kirkus

"The Spanish Craze adds a much-needed piece to the creation of the American identity and exists at the forefront of the historiography that explores cultural relations between the United States and the Hispanic world."—Gregg French, Journal of Arizona History

"A lively, readable, widely focused work."—Albuquerque Journal

“The historical evolution of Hispanism is particularly relevant at this time, when the United States government is again at metaphorical battle with the Hispanic world and it Hispanic population. By understanding this history, U.S. citizens today will be able to better assess and make decisions about how to move forward in the future.”—M. Elizabeth Boone, professor of the history of art, design, and visual culture at the University of Alberta and author of Vistas de España: American Views of Art and Life in Spain, 1860–1914

The Spanish Craze is distinct. It not only encompasses an ambitious span of time, but it also provides novel and captivating glimpses into [discrete] faces of Hispanism. This book is very expansive, wonderfully original, and well narrated.”—John Nieto-Phillips, associate professor of history at Indiana University, Bloomington, and author of The Language of Blood: The Making of Spanish-American Identity in New Mexico, 1880s–1930s

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Spanish Fever
1. Rival Empires
2. Sturdy Spain
3. Sunny Spain
4. Hispanism, Hispanismo, and the Hispanic Society of America
5. Collectors and Collecting
6. “Castles in Spain Made Real”
7. The Spanish Blaze
Conclusion: The “Back-and-Forth” Style