This page reflects a scholar's association with the Folger Institute.
"Black Legends and the Invention of Europe" (NEH Fellowship, 2016-2017)
Black Legends and the Invention of Europe argues that xenophobic invective and jingoistic propaganda played a crucial role in the construction of “Europe.” Taking as its point of departure the Black Legend of Spain’s ethnic dubiousness and ethical iniquity—i.e., the legend of Spain’s un-Europeaness—the books shows how the Black Legend’s claims formed an integral part of a larger transnational discourse that developed steadily from the late fifteenth century through the early eighteenth. Fifteenth-century works indicting the Turks for their ethnic dubiousness and ethical depravity already anticipate the central topoi of the Spanish Black Legend. Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century invectives against Portuguese, Dutch, and French in turn recycle figures and motifs of the legend. This conscious, pointed, and continued recycling suggests that throughout the early modern period Black Legend discourse was a key tool to bound and ascribe Europeanness. For this reason, Black Legend discourse constitutes an excellent vantage point to explore the conditions, forms, and limits within which “Europe” became (and still remains) an active idea.