Keith Budner

Dissertation Fellow
Budner Image

Keith Budner’s (Comparative Literature) dissertation “When the Empire Was a Colony: Roman Hispania and the Cultural Imagination of Early Modern Spain” provides a new account of how medieval and early modern Spain studied the Iberian Peninsula’s classical-colonial past with an eye toward defining Spain’s emerging national culture. By examining literary texts, historiographies, and art historical objects, Budner demonstrates that Roman Hispania provided an image of pan-peninsular wholeness and shared cultural heritage that helped Spaniards negotiate the challenges of religious and ethno-racial pluralism, regional strife, and socio-economic change. Budner’s dissertation project illustrates how classical recovery was not merely a cultural pastime of a learned cosmopolitan elite but instead held a crucial social and political function for medieval Iberia as it moved into early modernity. By evoking this (proto-)national image of collective cohesion, the idea of Roman Hispania enabled various cultural solutions to the crises of communal identities facing early modern Spain.