SPANISH 447 - The Archive
Winter 2017, Section 003 - The Spanish Civil War and Student Activism at the University of Michigan
Instruction Mode: Section 003 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Spanish (SPANISH)
Department: LSA Romance Languages & Literatures
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Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of department.
Enforced Prerequisites:
Nine credits chosen between SPANISH 279 and 399; or two RCLANG 324 and six credits chosen between SPANISH 279 and 399.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) became an international cause that drew volunteer combatants from around the world and energized the anti-fascist movement. While Hitler and Mussolini supported the military uprising with arms and troops, the democratic allies remained neutral, refusing to support or sell arms to the Spanish Republic. Activists in those neutral countries mobilized to urge their governments to aid the Republic. They wanted to make Spain the “tomb of fascism”—by halting the spread of fascism and the military build-up to world war.

At the University of Michigan, large numbers of students participated in organizations and events to support the Spanish Republic. The Student Senate debated resolutions urging the U.S. government to drop the embargo with Spain. Students and faculty from the Medical School organized an aid committee and held fundraising events to send an ambulance and supplies to Spain. In the Michigan Daily, news of the war unfolded on the front pages, and debates erupted in the op-ed section of the paper. Three students joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and fought in Spain, one of whom would never return.

In this course, as we follow these events in the pages of the Daily, we will view documentaries and read first-hand accounts of combatants on both sides of the war. We will focus in particular on letters and testimonies by members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade—a diverse group of 2,800 volunteers from the U.S., among them workers, students, women, and a large African-American contingent. Throughout the course, we will situate the war within the geopolitical arena, in a world riven by economic crisis, the rise of fascism, and the growth of an international Communist movement.

Students will have the opportunity to conduct original archival research in the Bentley Historical Library, and they may apply to present at a conference on student activism relating to the Spanish Civil War, to be held in late March. The course will be of particular interest to students with majors in International Relations, Spanish, History, or Political Science.

    Texts will include:
  • Helen Graham's The Spanish Civil War and George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia
  • excerpts from Peter Carroll's Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and From Guernica to Human Rights
  • excerpts from Robert Cohen's, When the Old Left Was Young.
  • Articles, eye-witness accounts, letters, and diaries will be available on Canvas.
  • Documentary films will be available online.

This course counts as elective credit toward the Spanish minor.

Course Requirements:

Assignments will include two exams, brief responses to films, a major research paper, and a final presentation.

Class Format:

This course is taught in English.
This course is a meet-together with History 399.002


SPANISH 447 - The Archive
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
 In Person
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
003 (REC)
 In Person
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM

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