Spanish Civil War

The Phantasmagoric Presence of the Spanish Civil War

in Contemporary Spanish Literature and Film

Course descriptions and objectives: This course aims to introduce undergraduate students to Contemporary Spanish Literature and Film through the study and analysis of representative literary and filmic texts. The texts will retrospectively contemplate the Spanish Civil War, Franco’s subsequent dictatorship and the Transition to democracy as a means of enlightening our perspective on Spain’s cultural and historical past and present. Furthermore, the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath will be shown to persist as a haunting presence in every aspect of Spanish reality. This is evidenced in the recurrent presence of the conflict and the dictatorship years, either explicit or implicitly, in the work of several generations of Spanish writers and directors. Critical questions related to these facts will be posited: Why do these artists approach history through the phantasmagoric? Are there any aesthetic implications in the deployment of the phantasmagoric as a means to construct these works?

Expectations: By the end of the semester, students will have achieved a deeper understanding of the Spanish Civil War and the postwar period. They will develop tools and skills to interpret both literary and filmic texts, including terminology appropriate to each field. Students’ critical thinking and communicative skills in Spanish will be improved by their active role within the class and through the completion of individual and collaborative assigned tasks.

Course Requirements:

Class Attendance and Participation 15%
*Blog/Computer-Mediated Analysis/Review (3 entries) and Peer Response (3 entries) 20%
Oral Presentation 10%
Midterm Exam 10%
Short Essay 1  (3-5 pages) 10%
Short Essay 2  (3-5 pages) 10%
Final Essay      (10-12 pages) 25%

*The course will incorporate a learning blog or other computed-mediated platform only accessible to the members of the class. Students will write short analyses, reviews and provide responses to their classmates’ comments (150-250 words per entry). Each student will have written a total of six entries by the end of the semester.

Course Content:

– Class 1. Introduction. Valis’ “Introduction.” In-class reading: excerpt from Marías’ Memorias. Discussion: Picasso’s Guernica vs. Capa’s “Falling Militiaman.”

– Class 2.  Labanyi’s “Memory and Modernity”, Holguín’s “Navigating the Historical Labyrinth”, Castle’s “Phantasmagoria.”

– Class 3. Nada (1945) by Carmen Laforet, Martín Gaite’s “La chica rara.” Analysis or Peer Response.

– Class 4. Nada by Carmen Laforet .

– Class 5. Nada by Carmen Laforet. Jordan’s “Looks That Kill” Review of Jordan’s article or Peer Response.

– Class 6. La plaza del diamante (1962) by Mercè Rodoreda, Bou’s “Exile in the city.”

– Class 7. La plaza del diamante by Mercè Rodoreda,

– Class 8. La plaza del diamante by Mercè Rodoreda, Short Essay 1.

– Class 9. El espíritu de la colmena (1973) (film) by Víctor Erice. Rascaroli’s “Like a Dream”.

– Class 10. El espíritu de la colmena (film) by Víctor Erice. Smith’s “Between Metaphysics and Scientism.” Review of Smith’s article or Peer Response.

– Class 11. Cría cuervos (1976, film) by Carlos Saura. Freud’s “The Uncanny.”

– Class 12. Cría cuervos (film) by Carlos Saura. Kinder’s “Carlos Saura.” Dalí’s “The Object.” Analysis or Response.

– Class 13. Midterm Exam

– Class 14. El cuarto de atrás (1978) by Carmen Martín Gaite. Durán’s “El cuarto de atrás.

– Class 15. El cuarto de atrás by Carmen Martín Gaite. Short Essay 2.

– Class 16. El sur (1985) by Adelaida García Morales. Glenn’s “Gothic Vision.”

– Class 17. El sur by Adelaida García Morales. Analysis or Peer Response.

– Class 18. Los girasoles ciegos (2004) by Alberto Méndez.

– Class 19. Los girasoles ciegos by Alberto Méndez. Analysis or Peer Response.

– Class 20. El laberinto del fauno (2006, film) by Guillermo del Toro. Ramos’ “El arte colectivo de recordar.”

– Class 21. El laberinto del fauno (film) by Guillermo del Toro.

– Class 22. Conclusions and recapitulation.

Primary Works:

Erice, Víctor, dir. El espíritu de la colmena. Video Mercury Films, 2006.

García Morales, Adelaida. El sur. Barcelona: Anagrama, 2005.

Laforet, Carmen. Nada. Barcelona: Destino, 2001.

Martín Gaite, Carmen. El cuarto de atrás. Madrid: Ediciones Siruela, 2009.

Méndez, Alberto. Los girasoles ciegos. Barcelona: Anagrama, 2008.

Rodoreda, Mercè. La plaza del diamante. Barcelona: Edhasa, 2009.

Saura, Carlos, dir. Cría cuervos. Video Mercury Films, 2007.

Toro, Guillermo del, dir. El laberinto del fauno. Estudios Picasso/Tequila Gang/Esperanto Filmoj. 2006.

Secondary Readings:

Bou, Enric. “Exile in the City: Mercè Rodoreda’s La plaça del Diamant.” The Garden across the Border. Ed. Kathleen McNerney, and Nancy Vosburg. Selinsgrove/London and Toronto: Susquehanna UP /Associated UP, 1994. 31-41.

Dalí, Salvador. “The Object as Revealed in Surrealist Experiment.” Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics. By Herschel B. Chipp. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: U of California P, 1986. 417-27.

Durán, Manuel. “El cuarto de atrás: Imaginación, fantasía, misterio; Todorov y algo más.” From Fiction to Metafiction: Essays in Honor of Carmen Martín-Gaite. Ed. Mirella Servodidio y Maria L. Welles. Lincoln, Nebraska: Society of Spanish and Spanish-American Studies, 1983. 129-37.

Freud, Sigmund. “The Uncanny.” Collected Papers. Vol. 4. Ed. Joan Riviere. London: The Hogarth P, 1953. 368-407.

Glenn, Kathleen M. “Gothic Vision in García Morales and Erice’s El sur.” Letras Peninsulares 7.1 (1994): 239-50.

Jordan, Barry. “Looks that Kill: Power, Gender and Vision in Laforet’s Nada.” Revista canadiense de estudios hispánicos 17.1 (1992): 79-104.

Kinder, Marsha. “Carlos Saura: The Political Development of Individual Consciousness.” Film Quarterly 32.3 (1979): 14-25.

Labanyi, Jo. “Memory and Modernity in Democratic Spain: The Difficulty of Coming to Terms with the Spanish Civil War.” Poetics Today 28.1 (Spring 2007): 89-116.

Martín Gaite, Carmen. “La chica rara.” Desde la ventana. 3rd ed. Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 1999. 101-22.

Gavela Ramos, Yvonne. “El acto colectivo de recordar: Historia y fantasía en El espíritu de la colmena y El laberinto del fauno.” Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 88.2 (2011): 179-96.

Rascaroli, Laura. “Like a Dream: A Critical History of the Oneiric Metaphor in Film Theory.” Kinema 18 (2002). 13 de enero de 2012 <>.

Smith, Paul Julian. “Between Metaphysics and Scientism: Rehistoricizing Víctor Erice’s El espíritu de la colmena (1973).” Spanish Cinema: The Auterist Tradition. Ed. Peter William Evans. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999.

Castle, Terry. “Phantasmagoria: Spectral Technology and the Metaphorics of Modern Reverie.” Crítical Inquiry 15.1 (1988): 26-61.

Valis, Noël. Introduction. Teaching Representations of the Spanish Civil War. Ed. Noël Valis. New York: MLA, 2007.

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