La Florida : Five Hundred Years of Hispanic Presence

La Florida : Five Hundred Years of Hispanic Presence

La Florida : Five Hundred Years of Hispanic Presence

La Florida : Five Hundred Years of Hispanic Presence

Synopsis

Commemorating Juan Ponce de León's landfall on the Atlantic coast of Florida, this ambitious volume explores five centuries of Hispanic presence in the New World peninsula, reflecting on the breadth and depth of encounters between the different lands and cultures.

The contributors, leading experts in a range of fields, begin with an examination of the first and second Spanish periods. This was a time when La Florida was an elusive possession that the Spaniards were never able to completely secure; but Spanish influence would nonetheless leave an indelible mark on the land. In the second half of this volume, the essays highlight the Hispanic cultural legacy, politics, and history of modern Florida and expand on Florida's role as a modern transatlantic cross roads.

Melding history, literature, anthropology, music, culture, and sociology, La Florida is a unique presentation of the Hispanic roots that run deep in Florida's past and present and will assuredly shape its future.

Excerpt

La Florida was the first region in the present-day United States to be globalized by European contact. Spurred by the 2013 quincentenary of Juan Ponce de León’s landfall on the Atlantic coast of Florida, La Florida: Five Hundred Years of Hispanic Presence provides a richly textured analysis of five centuries of transatlantic exchange. the volume brings together contributions by prominent scholars from several academic disciplines who participated in at least one of the three conferences sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council in 2012 to commemorate this momentous occasion for the state of Florida.

La Florida: Five Hundred Years of Hispanic Presence is structured in two parts containing six essays each. Florida historian Gary R. Mormino’s essay “Ponce’s Ghosts” introduces the volume. Ranging from the wild dreams of a fountain of youth to the demanding paradise of the Sunshine State, “Ponce’s Ghosts” is an authoritative synthesis of Florida’s relationship with its Spanish past since its christening by Ponce de León. Masterfully written and full of wit, the essay fearlessly weaves past and present, myth and history, gains and awful losses, into a tightly braided tapestry of Florida’s unique identity and character.

Subsequently, part 1 is framed by Florida as a Spanish territory and part 2 by Florida as a U.S. state with an indelible Hispanic presence. From different academic perspectives, the twelve essays engage with significant—and at times lesser known—episodes that evince Florida’s Spanish imprint from Ponce de León’s landfall to the current influence of Hispanic politics in the peninsula and on the national scene. This format offers the reader both a panoramic view and focal interdisciplinary reflections on the Spanish legacy. It shows that far from being “a subterranean river, dipping invisibly” in the words of Walt Whitman regarding the Spanish heritage in the Southwest, in Florida this heritage has always streamed in open daylight.

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