skip to content

SP10: The culture and language of contemporary Catalonia

Homenatge a Mercè Rodoreda by Albert de la Hoz Bofarull

Please be aware that places on this paper are normally restricted. Only limited numbers of students are able to take this paper.


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.


Candidates on this course will be of intermediate language level having successfully completed Sp6 at 1B or satisfied the Director of Section of their appropriate linguistic proficiency in Catalan. The intermediate language programme will consist of one weekly hour of grammar-based learning combined with a fortnightly hour which will entail reading and commentary on texts which are being studied on the cultural side of the paper.

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


Assessment for the cultural side of the course will consist 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 be assessed by a twenty-minute oral held at the start of the examination period. Candidates will prepare a topic from one of the three sections on the paper, presenting an analysis of a relevant item of Catalan culture as a prelude to discussion. No question from the section chosen for the oral can be attempted on the written paper. 

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)

Keep in touch