Final year culture modules - both semesters


The ability to carry out independent study successfully is essential within any academic discipline, which is why all students are required to include an indipendent study module such as this in their modules choices for either year two or year four. Additionally, it provides students with an opportunity to consider specific aspects of the discipline that are particular interest in greater detail. Students choose a topic relevant to an area of Hispanic Studies and cognate with a Y2 or Y4 module offered in their current year of study. Once a topic has been chosen, each student is assigned a supervisor, who must approve the precise focus of the dissertation before the student proceeds. Students should not rely on the supervisor to give them their topic, but recognise that the process of defining the focus of their study is an integral part of the learning process. Subsequent tutorial meetings will enable the student to consult the supervisor on specific issues and permit the supervisor to track and guide the student’s progress. By the end of the module students should have: demonstrated the ability to initiate the research process by choosing an appropriate topic and formulating specific research questions; demonstrated the ability to work independently in collecting, organising and analysing material; evaluated their specific research topic in the light of relevant theoretical and cultural contexts, including a thorough review of the available literature; provided critical analysis, drawing appropriate arguments and conclusions; presented a well-structured dissertation, using appropriate academic discourse and demonstrating a thorough familiarity with the conventions of scholarly presentation and referencing.

Translation Theory and Practice in Europe

This module focuses on approaches to the theory and practice of translation in Europe. It addresses the main areas of debate in Translation Theory and Translation Studies, with a historical survey of key theoretical texts and comparative and contrastive analysis of translations into English. It also covers key approaches, skills and resources available to the translator. It gives students the opportunity to apply their knowledge to their own translation practice via the production of a translation from their language of study into English (or from English into their mother tongue in the case of Erasmus students) accompanied by a critical and theoretically-informed reflection on the translation. By the end of the module students should be able to: demonstrate a broad and nuanced knowledge of the main areas of debate in the analysis and practice of translation in Europe; understand and apply a variety of theoretical approaches to the analysis and practice of translation; analyse and discuss the different parameters which constitute a text’s translatability in a subtle and sophisticated manner; show competence in the use of a variety of translation resources; create a translation to a professional standard.

Advanced Linguistics

This module examines the concepts of language, dialect, nation, religion and identity with specific reference to the sociolinguistic realities of contemporary Spain, in particular Catalunya and Euskadi. By the end of the module the student should be able to: deploy a variety of oral and written argumentation skills; appreciate the subtleties of linguistic identity as exemplified by Spain; understand the concepts of bilingualism, diglossia, language planning, nationalism, language and dialect; comprehend the nature of dialectological difference; assign the languages and dialects of the Hispanic world to their historical and contemporary linguistic, socio-economic and political contexts.

Spanish Caribbean: History & Literature [Taken with US Latino: Spanish Caribbean]

This module explores fictional representations of key events in the political history of the Spanish Caribbean. While focussing on 20th century issues such as the Castro Revolution, the Trujillo dictatorship (1930-1961) and the contingent failed attempts at democracy, the module also places emphasis on the repeated wars for independence from Spanish colonialism, the domination of Haiti during the 19th century and the struggles against US neo-colonialism throughout the 20th century. In the process students explore the way the Epic and a variety of other literary forms have been used to interrogate history in the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico, and will discuss issues such as dissidence, exile, and the place of the hero/heroine in processes of nation building. By the end of the module students should be able to: demonstrate knowledge of the major historical moments in 19th and 20th-century Spanish Caribbean history; analyse the literary representations of Caribbean anti-colonial struggles, the Castro Revolution, the Haitian occupation of the half-island of the Dominican Republic and the Trujillo dictatorship; and locate these historical and literary discourses within a wider Caribbean post-colonial context.

US Latino Culture: The Spanish Caribbean [Taken with Spanish Caribbean: History & Literature]

Through literature, film and essay, this module examines key issues concerning the politics of identity in US Latino culture. Focusing on the Hispanic Caribbean, the module begins by exploring some of the tensions inherent in the use of terms such as Hispanic and Latino to define Spanish Caribbean people. It will examine key moments in the history of the Cuban, Puerto Rican and Dominican presence in the US and proceed with an exploration of the literary/cinematic interventions in the contingent debates about cultural identity. The module engages with issues of migration, displacement, tradition and cultural transformation. By the end of the module students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the history and culture of Hispanic Caribbean communities in the United States. They will also be able to show how literature and film have helped to stage some of the key tensions involved in the politics of Hispanic Caribbean identities in the United States.

“Novel into Film”: Contemporary Spanish Film from Fiction

This module explores the often dependent and sometimes controversial relationship between literature and cinema within the context of Contemporary Spanish Fiction. The module traces the emergence and clash of the main aesthetic trends from the 1940s to the 1980s within Spanish culture. It begins by introducing key concepts in film theory and fiction, with discussion initially focussing on: (1) the implications of the act of reading upon the director's interpretation of a novel in the process of adaptation; (2) narrativity as a bridge that connects novel and film; and (3) the meaning of "fidelity" (Is a faithful adaptation a mere translation from a literary sign to a visual one)? Should a film adaptation be faithful just to the spirit of the novel and not to the letter? Is an adaptation a new and independent creation by itself? Having completed the module, students should be able to: Identify and analyse key concepts in Contemporary Spanish Film, Theory and Fiction; critically evaluate and chart the main aesthetic trends from the 1940's to the 1980's within Spanish culture; and demonstrate an advanced understanding of the interaction between different forms of artistic creation as a means of exploring the complexity of the act of reading.

Spanish Civil War Literature

The Civil War of 1936-39 was the most significant event in the history of Spain in the 20th Century, and one which continues to have an impact on Spain today. The political tensions which erupted during the war are clearly present in the literature of the preceding period and, since the beginning of the conflict, the war itself it has been a major theme for writers living and working in radically different contexts: during the war, under the censorship of the Franco regime, in voluntary or enforced exile, and now in a new democratic state. This module will review how political tensions were reflected in literature before the war and how the war has been represented at different times and in different contexts in the last seventy years. It will also explore theoretical questions surrounding the relationship between literature, politics and history.

Social and Political Processes in Contemporary Latin America

This module addresses recent changes in Latin American politics, society and culture through a regional and country specific approach. It focuses on democracy and democratisation, populism and issues of race, class and international relations. Starting with an assessment of processes of democratisation and the ‘Washington Consensus’, it then moves on to a discussion of the New Latin-American Left, and a study of Populism and Neo-liberalism in relation with regard to specific countries such as Bolivia, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile and Brazil, before closing with an evaluation of the debate about the rise of the so called ‘pink tide’ in Latin American politics and public life.

Re-Imagining the World: Cervantes, Lopes and the Baroque

Towards the end of the 16th century the pursuit of harmony, order and form that characterises Renaissance art and literature gives way to an intellectual and aesthetic outlook that is sceptical about classifications, hierarchies, and the power of reason itself, and celebrates variety, contrast and heterogeneity. It is also an era characterised by a fascination with re-invention, transformation, and change. Known as the Baroque, its artists and writers also reflected as never before on the nature and function of creativity itself, re-assessing the relationship between author/artist, text/image/performance, and reader/spectator, and reflecting insistently on the relationship and the boundaries between fiction/art and reality. It should be no surprise then that the Baroque era saw the creation of some of the greatest works in Spanish Literature. This module will examine the Baroque perspective, focussing on the two most significant literary forms of the age: the novel and the comedia; and on the work of two of its most innovative writers: Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) and Lope de Vega (1562-1635). The seminars in the First Semester will focus on the way Cervantes transformed Spanish fiction, whilst those in the Second Semester will examine the nature of Lope's comedia nueva and the controversies it provoked as it challenged both the literary and social status quo. At relevant moments the modules will also introduce students to several masterpieces of Baroque painting as a means of illustrating the character of the age in visual as well as textual terms.

Semester 1: Miguel de Cervantes changed the way readers approach fiction forever, not only by developing new forms, but by continually alerting his readers to the processes of creation, transmission and reception that shape their relationship with the text, thereby schooling them in the art of reading, and making them more perceptive and active participants in the experience of fiction. The module examines a variety of Cervantine texts, with reference to the Baroque perspective, through a series of seminars involving both student presentations and class discussion.

Semester 2: The end of the Sixteenth Century sees the creation of a dramatic genre, the comedia nueva that will transform Spanish theatre from its former status as aristocratic entertainment, religious pageantry, or fairground sideshow, into a major commercial enterprise and the foremost expression of cultural and social values of its age. But this success provokes controversy because this is also a time when Spanish society is divided between the epicurean pursuit of pleasure and a belief that Spain was slipping into an era of decadence and decline which was only to be averted by austere moral reforms. At the heart of this division lies the synergy between commercial theatre and the comedia nueva, whose opponents vilified them as a nursery of vice, and whose apologists represented them not simply as a source of harmless entertainment but also as a mirror of society, whose purpose was correction and reform, and whose effectiveness in achieving this end was unrivalled. The basis for these arguments and their effect on how plays were written is the subject of this module. The module begins by considering the nature of Lope de Vega’s comedia nueva through an analysis of his meta-theatrical play Lo fingido verdadero and his ironic discourse on the art of playwriting, El arte Nuevo, and goes on to examine the conditions of performance in the public theatres, before exploring contemporary responses to them through a range of extracts from contemporary literary and documentary sources, which serve as the basis for seminar presentations and class discussions. Whilst the module develops ideas introduced in the Y2 module The Origins of the Spanish Theatre (09 11956), it is also designed to be accessible to students so-far-unfamiliar with Golden Age dramatic texts outside the scope of Hispanic Literature: Texts & Contexts I A&B (09 16520/23).

Literature and Society in 20th Century Latin America

This course examines the various ways in which Latin American culture has responded to the experience of modernisation. It focuses on the relationship between the successive waves of social modernisation undergone by Latin-American societies in the present century and the parallel processes of literary and cultural innovation that have accompanied these social transformations. In the first semester we will concentrate on the 20s and 30s in Argentina; in the second semester we will examine some key novels written in the 50s and 60s and beyond in Perú, Mexico and Chile. It will conclude with an Argentinean film from the early 1990s.