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SP4: Modern Spanish Culture and History

This paper is available for the academic year 2017-18.

The modern period in Spain and its varied constituent parts is rich and varied. A range of topics allow you to approach a range of cultural, historical and political questions from the eighteenth-century through to the twenty-first: 

‘Prescriptions of Gender’ explores cultural concepts of both masculinity and femininity, examining texts that present, contest and undermine prevailing norms through the nineteenth century to the Francoist dictatorship.

‘The Art of Modernity’ combines approaches to both aesthetic theory and experimental practice in writing and art from nineteenth-century Romanticism to Modernity of the early years of the twentieth century.

‘Civil War and Post Civil War Culture’ includes issues of trauma, memory, censorship, propaganda, public and private history as they are represented by writers and filmmakers both during and after the Francoist dictatorship.

‘Images of Spain’ examines prevailing symbols of identity which have, rightly or wrongly, become dominant in the cultural imaginary within and without Spain. With reference to literature, film and art we explore and dissect icons of the Spanish state and its nations.

Please note that the topic Spain in Crisis, previously taught on this paper, is no longer taught or examined.

NB: Many key texts can be found online for free at or or




Lectured material:

José Cadalso, Noches lúgubres (1789-1790)

Francisco de Goya, Los caprichos (1797-1798) and Los desastres de la guerra (1810-1820)

Mariano José de Larra, “Vuelva Ud. mañana” (1833) and “Literatura” (1836)

Mariano José de Larra, “El día de difuntos de 1836” and “La Nochebuena de 1836”




Lectured material:

José Zorrilla, Don Juan Tenorio (1844)

Benito Pérez Galdós, Tristana (1892)

Ramón del Valle-Inclán, Sonata de otoño (1902)

Maria Mercè Marçal, "Joc de màscares" (1995) with Marta Balletbò-Coll, Costa Brava (1995)




Lectured material:

Pío Baroja, El árbol de la ciencia (1911)

Antonio Machado, Campos de Castilla (1912)

Carlos Saura, Cría cuervos (1976)

Pedro Almodóvar, ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto? (1984)




Lectured Material:

Agustí Centelles with Francesc Català-Roca and Robert Capa (photography)

Carmen Laforet, Nada (1945)

Pablo Neruda, Tercera residencia (1947)

Ana María Matute, Primera memoria (1959)

Preparatory reading: 

You are strongly encouraged to read as many texts as possible from the reading list over the summer vacation. At a minimum, however, please prepare José de Cadalso’s Noches lúgubres and Benito Pérez Galdós’s Tristana before arriving in Michaelmas Term. We also ask that you read Pío Baroja’s El árbol de la ciencia and Carmen Laforet’s Nada prior to the start of Lent Term.

Teaching and learning: 

Teaching is provided through 16 lectures (4 hours on each topic) and four introductory seminars (1 for each topic). Students receive 6 fortnightly supervisions (plus revision support in Easter term if offering the exam). You are expected to attend all classes for the paper. In supervisions you should expect to look at all the topics.

Please see Sp.4's Moodle page. The enrolment password can be collected from the paper coordinator.


Assessment is by 3-hour examination in which candidates answer three questions, in each response making reference to at least two texts, films or artists.

This paper is also available for examination by Long Essay.

Course Contacts: 
Dr Bryan Cameron (paper co-ordinator)