BA German and Spanish

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Memory and Culture in Post-Franco Spain

Course unit fact file
Unit code SPLA31141
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course focuses on contemporary literary and visual cultural texts from Spain and their approach to memories of the dictatorship of General Franco and the post-Franco years (commonly known as the Spanish transition to democracy). These cultural artefacts will be put in dialogue with a select number of critical texts about the Spanish transition and with some theoretical readings about memory. As a result students will become familiar with current issues in Spanish cultural studies and with wider academic and social debates about the unresolved legacy of Francoism in contemporary Spain. Students will interrogate the specificities of different cultural forms, particularly literature and film but also photography and embodied performance, as relevant ways of expressing and reflecting upon personal and collective memories in post-Franco Spain. The course will be taught and assessed in English; primary sources and some secondary sources will be read in Spanish.


Available on which programme(s)? 

All programmes with Spanish 

Available as Free Choice (UG) or to other programmes (PG)? 

Yes, subject to Spanish language requirements 


•    Raise awareness of the relations between cultural texts and wider debates about the unresolved legacy and memory of Francoism in contemporary Spain;
•    Draw connections between cultural artefacts produced during the Spanish transition and ongoing struggles and debates about memories of the Franco-dictatorship in contemporary Spain;
•    Introduce students to concepts from cultural studies and memory studies and use them to analyse a series of contemporary Spanish literary and visual works;
•    Enhance the ability of students to clearly develop an argument about cultural, political and historical issues, both orally and in writing.

Teaching and learning methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Group work (preparation of class discussion)
  • Individual preparation of a written assignment about memory theory and a final essay about a literary work and film related to memory in post-Franco Spain 

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be familiar with:
•    Key episodes and events from the dictatorship of Franco and the Spanish transition to democracy;
•    Alternative and conflicting historical accounts of the dictatorship of Franco and the Spanish transition;
•    Ongoing debates in Spanish society, politics and media about the legacy and memories of Francoism;
•    A selection of relevant Spanish literary works and films; 
•    Relevant concepts of cultural studies, especially in relation to memory.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will have enhanced their ability to:
•    Draw out an informed analysis of literary works and films, based on relevant theoretical and methodological tools;
•    Understand and apply concepts and theories in the field of Spanish cultural studies;
•    Understand complex historical processes and conflicting accounts of the latter;
•    Understand the relevance of history and memory in contemporary society;
•    Formulate informed opinions about the possible roles of literature and film in wider debates and struggles over memory.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will have enhanced their ability to:
•    Draw out an informed textual and visual analysis of cultural artefacts from Spain;
•    Clearly structure their arguments about literature, film, memory and related issues;
•    Participate productively in class debates;
•    Independently conduct a small-scale research project about literature and/or film.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will have improved the following skills and qualities:
•    Debate and write with clarity about complex ideas; 
•    Empathise with struggles and debates over violent pasts;
•    Intercultural awareness.  

Employability skills

These skills are particularly relevant for students considering a career that involves engagement with political affairs, journalism, historical research and careers in the culture industry (film and literature festivals, art exhibitions). Finally, the theoretical component of the course unit will also be helpful for students considering to pursue an MA and/or PhD in cultural studies.
As part of this unit, students will improve their knowledge of the Spanish language by thoroughly studying a series of novels and film in Spanish. This will be helpful for any career where profound knowledge of the Spanish language and a strong sense of intercultural awareness are needed. Students on this course will also gain a detailed understanding of pressing cultural and political issues in contemporary Spain regarding the unresolved legacy of the Franco-dictatorship.

Assessment methods

Assessment taskFormative or SummativeWeighting within unit (if summative)
Short essayFormative  
Written examSummative50%


Feedback methods


Feedback methodFormative or Summative
Oral and written feedback on short essayFormative
Written feedback on final essaySummative
Written feedback on examSummative
Additional one-to-one feedback (in office hours or by appointment)Formative




Recommended reading

  1. Faber, Sebastiaan. Memory Battles of the Spanish Civil War: History, Fiction, Photography. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2018. (selected fragments)
  2. Labanyi, Jo. “Memory and Modernity in Democratic Spain: The Difficulty of Coming to Terms with the Spanish Civil War.” Poetics Today 28.1 (2007): 89-116.
  3. Radcliff, Pamela Beth. “Imagining Female Citizenship in the ‘New Spain’: Gendering the Democratic Transition, 1975–1978.” Gender & History 13.3 (2001): 498-523.
  4. Resina, Joan Ramon (ed.) Disremembering the Dictatorship. The Politics of Memory in the Spanish Transition to Democracy. Ed. Joan Ramon Resina. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2000. 17-28. 
  5. Ribeiro de Menezes, Alison. “¿Una agonía esperpéntica? Shifting Memory Horizons and Carnivalesque Representations of the Spanish Civil War and Franco Dictatorship”. Bulletin of Spanish Studies 91 (1-2, 2014): 239-253.
  6. Santana, Mario. “Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s Los mares del Sur and the Incrimination of the Spanish Transition.” Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 34 (2000): 535-559.
  7. Whittaker, Tom. “Crime, Knowledge and the Photographic Object in La isla mínima.” Hispanic Research Journal 19.1 (2018): 41-54.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Carlos Van Tongeren Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Medium of language: English (primary sources and some secondary sources will be in Spanish) 

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