Jordan Wingate is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at UCLA. His dissertation, “The Transnational Origins of the American Self,” examines transnational discussions of American identity in US periodicals from the early nineteenth century.
My essay traces the influence of the Spanish American revolutions (1808–26) on Washington Irving’s early nineteenth-century writings and, in particular, on his popular 1828 biography of Christopher Columbus. Irving’s conception of America as a multinational hemisphere comprised of nation-states with entangled nationalist rhetorics and narratives—including Columbus’s “discovery”—underwrites the biography’s unprecedented critiques of nationalist historiography. Examining the politics motivating this work offers new insights for discussions of the textual morphologies of nineteenth-century nationalist thought.