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SP1: Introduction to the Language, Literatures and Cultures of the Spanish-speaking World

This paper is available for the academic year 2018-19.

[Please note: from Michaelmas 2016 this paper will no longer be available to PIB Option A students, and will only be offered in Part IA to Option B students.]

[Specimen paper from Tripos 2017 - please note that there is no longer commentary questions in SP1.]


SP1 is designed to give you an introduction to the main areas of study in the Spanish Tripos, allowing you to sample literature, linguistics and film, from Medieval to contemporary periods, and from Spain to Latin America. The paper allows you to work on a variety of texts and topics that will give you solid grounding in Hispanic studies whilst making you aware of its richness and complexity. Furthermore SP1 offers you the chance to gain a good grasp of theoretical tools in literature, film and linguistics which will enable you to work in depth with this material while gaining a wider perspective on Hispanic culture. It is available to Part Ia post-A-level or equivalent students (Option B) only.


[Please see below the list of topics and set texts for 2016/17].   Note regarding supervisions: All students will have a total of 8 supervisions across Michaelmas and Lent Terms, including 2 Linguistics supervisions.  Of the others, one will focus on the medieval text from Section A, and the texts studied overall should include at least two texts from Latin America and at least two from the Iberian Peninsula.

Section A - The Pre-Modern Condition:

  1. Medieval: Diego de San Pedro, Cárcel de amor [NB compulsory supervision on this text]
  2. Renaissance: Anon., Lazarillo de Tormes (1554)
  3. Baroque: Sor Juana, Obras

Section B - The Consolidation of Modernity:

  1. Enlightenment: José Cadalso, Cartas marruecas
  2. Romanticism: Jorge Isaacs, María
  3. Realism:  Emilia Pardo Bazán, Cuentos

Section C - Modernism and Beyond:

  1. Avant-Garde: Federico García Lorca, Romancero gitano
  2. The Twentieth-Century Novel: Mario Vargas Llosa, La tía Julia y el escribidor
  3. Contemporary Cinema: Icíar Bollaín, También la lluvia (film)

Section D - Linguistics:

  1. Phonetics and phonology of Spanish
  2. Morphology and Syntax of Spanish
  3. Varieties of Spanish
Preparatory reading: 

You are strongly encouraged to read as many texts as possible from the reading list over the summer vacation. You should read the following as A MINIMUM by the time you arrive in Cambridge: Lazarillo de Tormes, García Lorca's Romancero Gitano, Vargas Llosa's La tía Julia y el escribidor, and Stephen Pinker's The Language Instinct. You may also be interested to watch the film También la lluvia.

Teaching and learning: 

The teaching for SP1 will consist of lectures, reading classes and supervisions focused upon each of the primary texts and linguistic topics covered in the paper. For the Linguistics topic you will have one supervision per term, organized centrally. With your literature supervisor, you will normally have three supervisions in Michaelmas and Lent Terms. The department’s policy is:

  • that supervisions should as far as possible keep in step with the lectures, so that the lectures provide background information for work being done in detail with supervisors
  • that students attend supervisions on both literature and linguistics
  • that students should normally do detailed work on six of the texts
  • that these texts should be drawn evenly from each of the three sections.

In the Easter term, before the examination, there are no lectures but you may have revision supervisions.

Please see Sp.1's Moodle page. The enrolment password can be collected from the paper coordinator.


Assessment will be by end-of-year examination. In the examination you are asked to answer three questions, each taken from a different section. Please note that as from Tripos 2017 there will no longer be a commentary section on the examination (please therefore refer to the new SP1 specimen paper when preparing for the exam). It is expected that you will have prepared more than the minimum required to answer three questions in the examination; you will have done preparation for the paper skimpily and unproductively otherwise.

Course Contacts: 
Dr Bryan cameron (paper co-ordinator)
Dr Ioanna Sitaridou (Linguistics)