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


This paper is available for the academic year 2024-25.

This paper covers more than a century of literature, film and art
produced not only in Spain, and in Spanish, but also the other languages
of the Spanish state that extend beyond its physical borders in relation
to Spain’s colonial holdings.

Students who studied SP4 in Part IB will find a wealth of 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.


'Genealogical Fictions' examines questions related to education,
degeneration, politics, art versus science, gender, power, city and
country in Restoration-era Spain. The four lectures will focus on two
important novels from the late nineteenth century.

'Experiments in Form' covers literary experimentation in Spain from the
avant-garde period, centring on questions of vision, fragmentation,
gender, sexuality and politics in the first three decades of the
twentieth century.

'Writing Memory' explores questions related to the writing of the
nation, as well as the writing of the self in a range of works from the
late nineteenth century to the late 1980s.

'Spain in Crisis' explores the forty-year legacy of democracy in Spain
from the Transition in the mid 1970s to the present. Students will be
asked to screen a series of films that look back at this period through
the prism of the financial crash of 2008 and the culture of crisis
permeating Spain and other Western nation-states in the wake of the
neoliberal turn.

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


Genealogical Fictions
Emilia Pardo Bazán, Los pazos de Ulloa
Leopoldo Alas (“Clarín”), Su único hijo

Seminar Readings:

1.  Excerpts from Pedro Felipe Monlau’s Higiene del matrimonio, o el libro de los        casados (1865)
2.  Excerpts from Ángel Pulido’s Bosquejos médico-sociales para la mujer (1874)
3.  Edward Said, “Secular Criticism”. In The World, the Text, and the Critic, pp. 1-30.

Experiments in Form

José Ortega y Gasset: La deshumanización del arte
Rafael Alberti: Sobre los ángeles
Federico García Lorca: El público
Ramón María del Valle-Inclán: Luces de Bohemia


LENT 2023

Writing Memory

Carmen Laforet: Nada (1945)
Jaime Gil de Biedma: Las personas del verbo (1975; 1982)
Carmen Martín Gaite: El cuarto de atrás (1978)
Donato Ndongo: Las tinieblas de tu memoria negra (1983)


Spain in Crisis (ALL CINEMA)

Pere Portabella: Informe general II. El nuevo rapto de Europa (2015)
Pere Portabella: Informe general sobre algunas cuestiones públicas de
interés para una proyección pública
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Biutiful (2010)
Fernando León de Aranoa, Amador (2010)
Carlos Vermut, Magical Girl (2014)
Fernando Franco, La herida (2013)
Rafael Chirbes: Paris-Austerlitz (2016)

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. NB there is no requirement to answer in Spanish in the
examination, although candidates have the option to do so.

Please see SP9's Moodle page. The enrolment password can be collected
from the paper coordinator.


SP9 2024: The examination will consist of two parts:

 1) Lent term Coursework Essay

Answer one question. You should make reference to two or more works in your answer.

You should write no more than 1,800 words.

Essays will be due for submission at the start of the Easter term (the precise date and time to be announced in due course.)


2) Easter Exam (3h timed online)

Answer two questions, no more than one from any section. Do not answer the questions from the section you have worked on in your Lent Coursework Essay. Each answer should be no longer than 1,500 words in length, not including the bibliography.

Essays may be written in either English or Spanish, using only one language for each individual response.

Candidates for this paper may not draw substantially on material from their dissertations or material which they have used or intend to use in another scheduled paper. Candidates may not draw substantially on the same material in more than one question on the same paper.

It is possible to offer an Optional Dissertation in place of SP9.

Course Contacts: 
Prof Isaías Fanlo (paper co-ordinator)