Spain’s history in the twentieth century is marked by political and social transformations and upheavals: a Fascist dictatorship under Primo de Rivera, instauration of democracy under the Second Republic, Civil War, Franco’s Fascist regime, and subsequent democratization after Franco’s death. Spanish writers responded to these changes by finding new ways of representing the new realities and continuing with the tradition of realism, which had been the central style throughout 19th century literature, changing its forms and ways of representation, and later extending its influence into the realm of cinema. In this course, we will examine different realist techniques used throughout the 20th century in Spanish literature and film. Course materials range from Ramón María del Valle-Inclán’s reportage Relatos de la Guerra Carlista and Martín Luis-Santos’s experimental novel Tiempo de silencio, to the films of Juan Antonio Bardem and Luis Buñuel. In addition to primary sources, such as literary texts and films, secondary sources – theoretical key texts on the conceptualization and aesthetics of realism by Gyorg Lukács, Bertolt Brecht, and Dundley Andrew—will also be included. Our analysis will be guided by the following questions: How is reality represented in different mediums and at differing times? How can we define or delimit what is plausible? How does the representation of the real differ and/or overlap with Spanish reality at the time?
In addition to offering students an introduction to realist representation in 20th century film and literature, the course will familiarize students with central theoretical concepts in the critical discussion of realism, and its role with regard to Spanish nationalism. By working across genres, mediums, and through different time periods, and engaging with different narrative techniques and tropes in these works, students will develop and elaborate their close-reading and interpretive skills.
Course requirements include reading and discussion of texts in Spanish, watching films, short response essays, oral presentations, a midterm paper, and a final paper.
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