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SP10: The culture and language of contemporary Catalonia

Homenatge a Mercè Rodoreda by Albert de la Hoz Bofarull

This paper (in its current form) is available for the academic year 2018-19.


This course provides an intensive introduction to the culture and language of the “Catalan Countries”, comprised of Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearic Islands as well as Andorra and other parts of Spain, France and Italy. The course of twenty lectures with fortnightly supervisions will examine major tendencies in literature, architecture, sociolinguistics, politics, history, film and the visual arts. Additionally, students have two weekly language hours which will prepare them for the language element of the examination. Should they desire it, they may also enter for the intermediate level of the Certificat Internacional de Català awarded by the Catalan government.

Until October 2019, students at Part II will be of ab initio standard and so will follow the beginner’s language course as outlined on the Sp6 webpage (sp6) without the literature element. Please refer to that page for further information

The literary and cultural part of the course is divided into three chronological sections. The first is devoted to the “re-birth”, consolidation and diversification of linguistic, cultural and national consciousness from the romantically inflected Renaixença to the internationally orientated Avant-Garde (c.1833-1936), with an emphasis on poetry, linguistic politics, urban planning, architecture, painting, photography and World’s Fairs. The second period focuses on cultural production during the Franco dictatorship (1939-1975), with special attention to literature and film. The final section addresses questions of constitutional democracy, postmodernism and globalism, with reference to cinema, theatre, poetry and prose fiction.


RenaixençaModernisme, Noucentisme and the Avant-Garde (c1833-1936)

Architecture and Barcelona:

Ildefons Cerdà; Antoni Gaudí;

Literature, Art and Politics

Bonaventura Carles Aribau;  Jacint Verdaguer; Joan Maragall; Santiago Rusiñol; Ramón Casas; Eugeni d'Ors; Joan Salvat-Papasseit; Pablo Picasso; Salvador Dalí; Llorenç Villalonga.

The Francoist Dictatorship (1939-1975)

Literature, Film and the Performing Arts

J. V. Foix; Agustí Centelles; George Orwell; Salvador Espriu; Joan Miró; Joan Brossa; Antoni Tàpies; Mercè Rodoreda; Vicent Andrés Estellés; Josep Maria Forn; Pere Portabella.

Democracy and Globalisation (1975 to present day)

Literature, Film and the Performing Arts

Sergi Belbel; José Luis Guerín; Maria-Mercè Marçal; Sílvia Munt; Sigfríd Monleón; J M Benet i Jornet, Ventura Pons.

Preparatory reading: 
  • Brad Epps, "Modernisme in Catalonia." In Modernism. Eds. Astradur Eysteinsson and Vivian Liska. (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007), 781-800.
  • ------ (Ed.), Barcelona and Modernity, Catalan Review: International Journal of Catalan Culture 18.1-2 (2004).
  • Montserrat Guibernau, Catalan Nationalism: Francoism, Transition and Democracy (London: Routledge, 2004).
  • Dominic Keown (ed), A Companion to Catalan Culture (London: Boydell & Brewer, 2011).
  • David Mackay, Modern Architecture in Barcelona (Sheffield: Anglo-Catalan Society, 1985)
  • Arthur Terry, A Companion to Catalan Literature (London: Boydell & Brewer, 2003).
Teaching and learning: 


The teaching for the cultural element of this paper will consist of lectures and supervisions focused upon each of the three periods. Students will normally study all topics, with five or six lectures devoted to each.

Students of Part II will be of ab initio standard and so will follow the beginner’s language course as outlined on the SP6 webpage (sp6) without the literature element.

Please see Sp.10's Moodle page. The enrolment password can be collected from the paper coordinator.

SP10 from October 2019 for Tripos 2020

Please click here to read about the teaching and assessment of SP10 from Michaelmas 2019 for Tripos 2020.



Assessment for the cultural side of the course in Tripos 2018 and Tripos 2019 consists of a two-hour end of year examination. One question will be answered from two of the paper’s three sections.

The language element will consist of a 1.30h examination and an oral exam (SP10O) as indicated in SP6.

Course Contacts: 
Prof Dominic Keown (paper co-ordinator, convenor and information)
Prof Brad Epps (on leave LT & ET18)
Ms Afra Pujol i Campeny (Batista i Roca Fellow at Fizwilliam College)