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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Professor Alison Sinclair

Professor of Modern Spanish Literature and Intellectual History (retired 30 September 2014). Formerly: Head of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and Chair of the MML Faculty Board.
Spanish & Portuguese
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
Contact details: 

Clare College
Thirkill Court
Queens Road
United Kingdom CB3 9AJ


Professor Sinclair has specialised in her career in nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Spanish Peninsular literature, culture and intellectual history. Her publications include articles on Alas and Unamuno, and on the intellectual history of the early twentieth century. Her publications include The Deceived Husband (Oxford: UP, 1993), Dislocations of Desire: Gender, Identity, and Strategy in 'La Regenta' (North Carolina, 1998), Unamuno, the Unknown, and the Vicissitudes of the Self (Manchester: UP, 2001), Sex and Society in Early Twentieth-Century Spain: Hildegart Rodríguez and the World League for Sexual Reform (2007), and Trafficking Knowledge in Early Twentieth-Century Spain: Centres of Exchange and Cultural Imaginaries (2009). President of the Modern Humanities Research Association in 2016.

She was awarded £600,765 by the AHRC to fund her three-year research project (2011-14) on ‘Wrongdoing in Spain 1800-1936: Realities, Representations, Reactions’. The intention of the project was to explore society’s understanding of wrongdoing, and the way that this was translated into the world of culture. It was thus concerned not just with wrongdoing, but with the social and cultural responses it elicited. Such responses were deemed to include anxiety, anger, desire for retribution, identification with perpetrators or victims of wrongdoing, the potential for vicarious engagement with wrongdoing through cultural artefacts. The project allowed for questioning of the processes through which it was evident that we, as cultural consumers, take a type of pleasure in wrongdoing. The manifest public fascination in the topic was one that could be traced from medieval ballad through to nineteenth-century broadsides, and eventually to sensationalist literary or visual representations of wrongdoing in our day. This research project featured in a University News article on Research News:  'Read all about it!'. The project held 2 conferences, 4 workshops, and numerous events of public engagement, including an exhibition at the University Library, Cambridge, accessible online at Part of the work resulting of the project was the digitization and cataloguing of 4700 items of ephemeral and popular literature held at the University Library and the British Library (see

 ‘Wrongdoing in Spain’, and specifically the work on ephemeral literature (pliegos sueltos), catalogued by Ms Sonia Morcillo, and digitized by a team at Cambridge University Library, gave rise to an international project (2014 to present). This is ‘Mapping pliegos’, directed by Professor Alison Sinclair (Cambridge), Professor Pura Fernández (Madrid: CSIC) and Professor Juan Gomis (Valencia). Mapping pliegos aims to extend the work on ephemeral literature in ‘Wrongdoing in Spain’ to compile a reliable and complete catalogue account of Spanish pliegos sueltos, including holdings in major Spanish libraries and archives. The number of sueltos currently collected stands at some 12,000 items. The major initial work of compilation has been carried out by a team working between England and Spain, and the project is engaged in the task of checking the records, and ensuring standardization of practice in the cataloguing. To this end there is collaboration between Ms Morcillo at the University Library and Dr Pilar Martínez Olmo of the Biblioteca Tomás Navarro Tomás at the CSIC in Madrid, and includes the training and guidance of young researchers carrying out the checking. There is an international advisory board, four international workshops have been held (Madrid (2014), Urueña (2015), Madrid (2016) and Valencia (2017), and the group has collaborated with the EDPOP (European Dimensions of Popular Culture) based in Utrecht (2016-18).