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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Espacios para la cultura obrera en el siglo XIX español: Literatura, música, representación

  • Author(s): Vialette, Aurelie Mireille
  • Advisor(s): Iarocci, Michael
  • et al.

This dissertation, Worker's Cultural Spaces in the nineteenth-century: Literature, Music, Performance focuses on the cultural dimension of the worker's education and considers the cultural production that either discusses or addresses the worker in response to social phenomena such as poverty, the challenge of ensuring basic literacy, the rise of revolutionary movements and the integration of masses of workers into the cultural, political and social concert in nineteenth-century Spain. We establish that such cultural projects seek to measure the functionality of the working masses in different urban spaces and to control their dynamic processes. We underscore how the intellectual elite deploys the disciplinary aspect of these projects to mold the moral literacy of the worker.

The dissertation is organized around five institutional spaces: the choir, the theater, the library, the archive, and the novel. Through those spaces, nineteenth-century intellectuals developed projects to incorporate the working class into the cultural discourse of the bourgeois public sphere. Certain cultural projects for nineteenth-century workers receive specific emphasis in our work, namely the formation of the choruses of workers by Josep Anselm Clavé; the popular novels and folletines written by Antonio Altadill and Dolors Monserdà; and the creation of centros de lecturas and popular libraries, with particular attention to the seminal figure of Rossend Arús.

The relations of cultural power between intellectuals and workers are at the core of our examination of the complex dialogue between music, literature, politics and sociology. The phenomena we analyze aimed to incorporate the worker into the cultural construction of the nation but were deemed by those who had a type of domination over the working class as a way to reform them. Even if this process created cultural visibility for the worker, we argue that it also entailed its control by the bourgeois public sphere in urban spaces such as stages, public parks, and the centros de lectura.

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