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SP9: Spanish Literature, Thought, and History, after 1820

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

This paper covers two hundred years of literature, film and art produced not only in Spain, in Spanish, but also the other languages of the Spanish state and indeed beyond its physical borders in relation to Spain’s coloniality.

Students who studied Sp4 in Part IB will find much new material and ideas to explore and some revisions of previously presented materials; those who have not followed Peninsular focused courses before will encounter a rich variety of cultures from the early nineteenth-century to the present day.

The material is grouped into four broad topics which allow students to approach varied cultural, historical and political questions.  The topics are porous, meaning that texts from any given topic are often relevant to other topics.  Students should therefore feel free to explore alternative connections and combinations.

'Nature and Culture' encompasses questions of education, degeneration, politics, art versus science, gender and power, city and country. 

'Experiments in Form' covers artistic experimentation in Spain throughout the twentieth century, across a range of forms, literary and visual.  

'Writing Memory' includes writing the national, and writing the personal. Texts thus relate to personal memory and autobiography, or to the writing involved in national or public memory (and the reaction to such writings).

'Staging Issues' includes both film and theatre. As the title suggests, the topic allows focus on issues of technique and staging, but also on the ways in which stage and screen can be used to explore issues. 


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



Lectured Material 

Javier Cercas  Soldados de Salamina

Carmen Martín Gaite  El cuarto de atrás with Manuel Rivas As voces baixas/Las voces bajas

Donato Ndongo  Las tinieblas de tu memoria negra

Cinematic material relating to coloniality (to be announced)



Lectured Material 

Ortega y Gasset La deshumanización del arte with Pablo Picasso

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer: Rimas and Leyendas (selections) 

Esther Tusquets  El mismo mar de todos los veranos

​ Juan Goytisolo  Señas de identidad 



Lectured Material

Leandro Fernández de Moratín El sí de las niñas

Duque de Rivas  Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino

Ramón del Valle-Inclán Luces de Bohemia

Federico García Lorca El público



Lectured Material 

Leopoldo Alas (“Clarín”)  Su único hijo

Emilia Pardo Bazán  Los pazos de Ulloa

Víctor Català (Caterina Albert): Solitud (Soledad)

Carmen de Burgos En la guerra and El veneno del arte

Preparatory reading: 
  • Brenan, G. The Spanish Labyrinth (1950)
  • Shubert, A. A Social History of Modern Spain (1990)
  • Labanyi, Jo. Spanish Literature: a Very Short Introduction (2010)
  • Triana Toribio, N. Spanish National Cinema (2004)
Teaching and learning: 

Teaching is provided through 16 lectures (4 hours on each topic) with an introductory seminar for each topic. The introductory seminars for both topics will take place in week one in order to allow and even encourage students to move between the topics.  Students also receive 8 fortnightly supervisions (plus revision support in Easter term if offering the exam). You are expected to attend all lectures for the paper. In supervisions you should expect to look at all the topics. Each term students will write one supervision essay entirely in Spanish. Additionally, Sp9 students will have the option to attend one supervision per term, which will be conducted entirely in Spanish. Students will have the option to write one revision essay in Spanish during Easter Term although the vast majority of the feedback will centre on content and not issues related to grammar, lexis, spelling, syntax, etc.

Please see Sp.9'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. It is possible to offer an Optional Dissertation in place of Sp9.

Course Contacts: 
Dr Stuart Davis (paper co-ordinator)