Spanish Civilization and Culture

Universidad de Granada

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Spanish Civilization and Culture

  • Host University

    Universidad de Granada

  • Location

    Granada, Spain

  • Area of Study

    Anthropology, Art, Spanish Culture

  • Language Level

    High Advanced

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    The syllabus of this course has been programmed from an anthropological global perspective, so that the students will be able to gain an overall view of Spanish culture, of the Spanish way of life, throughout history and in the present-day, and in its diverse manifestations. The aims are to initiate and educate the students in those topic fields which are not found in the other fundamental disciplines which make up the Hispanic Studies course, taking care to avoid any duplication.

    It would be impossible, given the time, to deal with all the topics of Spanish culture and civilisation, so the aim is to give the students an overall view which may be broadened in some specific topics which are those which are proposed in a realistic way to be dealt with in class.

    1. Introduction to Spanish culture: Definition of the concept of culture from a Social Anthropological perspective. Elements and fields of a human group’s culture. Universality and and peculiarities of a culture. Spain: mosaic of cultures. Historical-geographical conditioners of the Spanish idiosyncrasy. Different theoretical perspectives on the Topic of the Spanish: Pedro Laín Entralgo and the polemic de Américo Castro and Claudio Sánchez Albornoz.

    2. Society and politics in contemporary democratic Spain: the conflicts of the Civil War and the "two Spains". Franco’s era and the transition to democracy. Towards a culture of co-existance and tolerance in modern Spain. The different administrations of present-day Spain: Central State, Autonomous Government, Provincial Town Councils and Town Halls.

    3. Cultural manifestations in the different autonomous regions: The problem of cultural identity of the regions of Spain after Franco’s regime with the restoration of democracy: between cultural unity and diversity. Spain as plural State of the autonomous regions. The recuperation of regional identities. Intensive study of the case of cultural identity of the Andalusians.

    4. Catholicism in the configuration of the Spanish identity: Historical perspective of the implantation of Catholicism in Spain. The presence of the Islam during seven centuries. Church and State in Franco’s regime: the national-Catholicism. Church and democratic era. Popular Catholicism in its diverse manifestations: Easter, Pilgrimages, Fiesta of Corpus Christi, Patron Saint Fiestas patronales and other fiestas.

    5. The popular fiesta in present-day Spain: Anthropological theory of the fiesta: relations between the fiesta and social structure, economy, play-symbolic behaviour, the processes of identity of the groups, daily life and power. Contributions to the study of fiestas in Spain from the anthropologist D. Julio Caro Baroja: the annual festival cycle. The renovation of fiestas in present-day Spain. Analysis of some of the most relevant fiestas: Easter, Carnavals, the Fallas in Valencia, Sanfermines in Pamplona (the running of the bulls), Moors and Christians, the Pilgrimage of the Rocío.

    6. The gypsies in Spain: Historical data about their implantation and distribution. Their economic, cultural and social life-style. Contributions from the gypsies to Spanish culture. Social problems of the gypsies: integration, exclusion and change. Gypsy ethnic group conflicts. Other ethnic minority groups in Spain.

    7. Flamenco as manifestation of the Spanish culture: origin, development, modalities and characteristics of this cultural manifestation. Diversity and unity in flamenco expression. Singing, guitar and dance in the flamenco fiesta. Gypsies and flamenco. Transformations and racial mix in present-day flamenco.

    8. Bull-fighting in Spanish culture: the bull-fighting celebration as a national fiesta and as a rite. Symbolic continuity and renovation of an ancestral tradition. Language and technique of bullfighting. Bull-fighting and Spanish social structure. The influence of bullfighting in literary production, in art, in cinema and in music.

    9. Debate on Spanish culture in the new millennium: The most urgent problems of democratic Spain, once the transition was overcome. Stereotypes, clichés and renovation of Spanish culture in the present-day. Key questions for a debate about what is traditional and what is reformist.

    Each topic will be dealt with in class with the aid of bibliographic material, photocopies, videos, diagrams or other types of notes provided by the teacher. The teacher will also give short talks on the topics with the participation of the students in order for them to have a better understanding. A better final mark may be obtained by extended reading with consequent pieces of work or also by the ethnographic observation and analysis of the Spanish culture, such as may be seen by the students during their stay in present-day Granada.

    The final mark will be based on the following: up to 25% for attendance and active participation in class; up to 50% for the final exam with questions on the syllabus; and up to 25% for a supplementary piece of work, individual or in groups, on some aspect related to the syllabus (students should do this under the supervision of the teacher).


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