Spanish Culture and History through Film (in English)

Universidad Pablo de Olavide

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Spanish Culture and History through Film (in English)

    Course Closed
  • Host University

    Universidad Pablo de Olavide

  • Location

    Seville, Spain

  • Area of Study

    European Studies, Film Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

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

    Course Description
    The course presents a general introduction to the main aspects of Spanish Culture and History through cinematographic representation in various films and texts. The class covers the main social, political, and economic aspects of Spanish life from the beginning of the twentieth century until today, with special emphasis on current affairs. Analysis of audiovisual material and textual sources will help to illustrate the connections and discontinuities of various periods of recent Spanish reality: the Civil War, the Franco dictatorship, the new Democratic period, and the current postmodern Spain.

    Classes will be structured considering the central topics which have marked the history of the nation: the struggle between urban vs. rural environments, the role of women in society, youth problems and education, film as ideological propaganda, traditional religiosity vs. sexual liberation, and cultural and national diversity.

    We will study the way in which these feature films offer multiple visions of Spanish identity, and how they build alternative models to the ones constructed by Hollywood. Besides exploring topics and contents, the class will also cover general aspects of film aesthetics and narrative devices used by the film makers such as camera angels, use of sound track and lighting, framing and filmic discourse. We will study both famous directors such as Almodóvar, García Berlanga, Bardem, Saura, as well as the most recent Spanish creators Amenábar, Medem, Zambrano, and Trueba. Some of the questions to explore during the semester will be the following: Which national identity issues are constructed in Spanish films? Which are the main problems of Spaniards as presented in these films? What similarities and differences exist between Spanish and American societies?

    Course Goals and Methodology

    • The goals of this course are:
    • To explore the main historical and cultural issues of contemporary Spain.
    • To understand how filmic discourse represents and, at the same time, undermines culture and reality.
    • To familiarize students with the main film directors, movie techniques, and aesthetic concerns of recent decades in Spain.
    • To relate current social and national problems in Spain to its historical roots in recent History

    A variety of methodologies will be used, including lecture/presentation, discussions, debates, student presentations, and cooperative group work. The course includes both texts and films to be analyzed by students. Students are expected to read and reflect on the reading/audio+visual material and also to complete the handouts for each specific text and film before the class period. Films will be screened during class and require active work with questions and references to be completed before, during and after the screening.

    Students will be given reading and filmic material to study during the semester and will be required to complete hours of preparatory work on which they may be tested in order to understand their level of knowledge and understanding in key areas. Course participants will be required to complete pre- and post-course tests, a class oral presentation, ICT activities by mobile phone, tablet or computer, exams and a final project.

    Learning Objectives

    Through this course, students will:

    • Be able to explain the main Historical events of Contemporary Spain
    • Define basic concepts from the field of cultural theory.
    • Outline the main Spanish cultural events from the 20th century to the present.
    • Recognize significant social developments in Spanish contemporary period.
    • Identify and critically explore the cultural foundations of the Spanish nation.
    • Describe and classify basic concepts related to film aesthetics/form.
    • Evaluate film under a critical perspective encompassing the political/ideological.
    • Enhance inter-cultural awareness towards similarities and differences between Spanish and U.S. history and culture.

    Course Requirements and Grading

    Students’ progress will be checked by class participation, in-class quizzes, a response essay, and a final exam.

    Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

     Presentation (10%)

     Cell Phone Game (10%)

     Essay (10%)

     Participation (20%)

     Exams [Midterm+Final] (50%) 

    Course contents

    Introduction: Constructing History and Representing Culture in FILM

    1. Introduction to Spanish History. Republic and Civil War
    2. The Franco Regime
    3. Introduction to Cinematography and Cultural Differences
    4. Censorship and Propaganda during Franco
    5. Religion and Popular Faith
    6. School, Gender Issues and Sexual Diversity
    7. The Democratic Period
    8. Spain´s cultural icons: Flamenco & Gastronomy
    9. 1990s to 2007: from Boom to Recession
    10. Spain Today: 2008-2018
    11. National Diversity and Catalonia

    Required Texts

    There will be a COURSE PACK with the compulsory reading assignments available at the copy center in the Celestino Mutis Building (Building #17) on campus. Students should buy the one for this course and professor (Span 319E Professor Alberto Egea). Supplementary materials may be provided during the course. Power point presentations, extra readings, study guides for every reading and film handouts for the screenings will be available on Blackboard (virtual platform).


    Films will be screened in class and are available at the Centro Universitario Internacional library. Students may also obtain copies of the movies from the professor by bringing a laptop to class.    

    1. Belle Epoque. Fernando Trueba. 1992. (109´).

    2. La lengua de las mariposas. José Luis Cuerda. 1999. (96´).

    3. La niña de tus ojos. Fernando Trueba. 1998. (121´).  

    4. La mala educación. Pedro Almodóvar. 2004. (105´).

    5. El calentito. Chus Gutierrez. 2005. (90´). 

    6. Ocho apellidos vascos. Emilio Martínez Lázaro. 2013. (95´). 

    Content Warnings The films of the course may contain explicit content that some viewers may find disturbing, scenes of a sexual nature, adult language, violence, etc.   

    Additional texts

     On History and Culture:

    o Barton, Simon. A history of Spain. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

    o Carr, Raymond. Spain: a history. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

    o Chislett, William. Spain: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

    o Crow, John A. Spain, the root and the flower: an interpretation of Spain and the Spanish people. Berkeley: University of California Press 2005.

    o Gies, David T, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Modern Spanish Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.  

    o Jordan, Barry, and Rikki Morgan-Tamosunas, eds. Contemporary Spanish Cultural Studies. London: Arnold, 2000.

    o Hooper, John. The New Spaniards. London: Penguin Books, 2006.  

    o Michener, James A. Iberia. Fawcett Books 1989.

    o Pierson, Peter. The history of Spain. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1999.

    o Richardson, Bill. Spanish studies: an introduction. London: Oxford University Press, 2001.

    o Tremlett, Giles. Ghosts of Spain: travels through Spain and its silent past. New York: Walker, 2007. 

     On Film:

    o Bordwell, David, and  Kristin Thompson. Film art: an introduction. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.

    o Jordan, Barry. Contemporary Spanish Cinema. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998.

    o Kinder, Marsha. Blood cinema: The Reconstruction of National Identity in Spain. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.  

    o McVey Gill, Mary. Cinema for Spanish Conversation. Newburyport: Focus, 2006.

    o Mira, Alberto. The Cinema of Spain and Portugal. London: Wallflower, 2005.  

    o Monaco, James. How to Read a film. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    o Stone, Rob. Spanish Cinema. New York: Longman, 2002.  

    o Triana-Toribio, Nuria. Spanish National Cinema. London: Routledge, 2003.  

     Grammar books and dictionaries

    o Merriam-Webster's Spanish-English Dictionary. Springfield: MerriamWebster, 2002.

    o The Oxford Spanish Dictionary: Spanish-English/English-Spanish. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

     Diccionarios en línea:

    o o


     Webs

    o - Official website of the Spanish National Bureau of Statistics.

    o - Official website of the Spanish Ministry of Culture, Education and Sports, including a link to a comprehensive Spanish film database. 


Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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