SPAN20290 21st-C Spanish fictions

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module explores fictional responses in literature and film to crises that have marked national and individual identities in twenty-first-century Spain. Through a range of case studies, we will examine the effects of three crises, one historical: the suppressed legacy of the Civil War and long dictatorship; one economic: the 2008 financial crisis; and one socio-cultural: the separatist movements of historical autonomous communities. We will start by studying extracts and scenes across a range of genres, from autofictions to realist novels, and from dramas to comedy films, and build up to the independent analysis of full-length works: Emilio Martínez-Lázaro’s blockbuster Ocho apellidos film series (2014-15) and Gabriela Ybarra’s critically acclaimed novel El comensal (2015). We will consider the insights that fiction can offer into the impact of these crises on a collective and individual level; the multiple angles from which different forms and genres allow us to explore these ramifications; and how these works contribute to discourses of identity in twenty-first-century Spain.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students will:

• Understand the key recent historical, economic, and socio-cultural developments that have influenced questions of identity in twenty-first-century Spain
• Recognise why and how fiction can offer valuable insight into the impact of real-world events
• Be able to identify and analyse the angles from which different forms and genres approach cultural questions and the narrative techniques they use to shape our response
• Be confident in analysing primary sources independently and drawing effective comparisons to develop convincing arguments about literary and cinematic responses to their twenty-first-century contexts

Indicative Module Content:

Weeks 1-4: Legacies of the Spanish Civil War in Fiction and Film

Week 1: Lecture on legacy of the Spanish Civil War; Mini lecture and seminar on Soldados de Salamina in relation to the memory boom
Week 2: Seminars on Javier Cercas, Soldados de Salamina: using extracts/scenes to discuss of (auto)fictional responses to uncovering the legacy of the Civil War and to compare how the book vs the film presents the story
Week 3: Mini lecture and seminar on Dulce Chacón, La voz dormida; close analysis workshop on narrative techniques in book vs film version (groups will prepare a short commentary in class in preparation for first summative assessment)
Week 4: Lectures on using primary and secondary sources to develop an effective comparison between texts
First summative assessment (due 6pm Friday, Week 6): commentary (500 words) on one technique that is used to shape the way in which we view the impact of the suppressed legacy of the Civil War across the two films/books; you must use close analysis of the primary texts to develop your answer (10% of final grade)

Weeks 5-8: Literary and Cinematic Responses to the 2008 Financial Crisis

Week 5: Lecture on the economic crisis and its impact on Spain and Spanish literature; Seminar comparing literary responses to the crisis across different texts/genres
Week 6: Seminar comparing scenes from cinematic responses to the crisis; Seminar comparing the effects of genre and on how to use secondary sources effectively in developing an argument
Week 7: Reading week (use this time to prepare your group presentations and read Gabriela Ybarra, El comensal)
Week 8-9: Group presentations x 3 classes: meeting

Weeks 9-11: Socio-political Divisions and Discourses of Identity in Twenty-First-Century Spain

Week 9: Lecture on social, cultural and political divisions in twenty-first century Spain
Week 10: Lecture/seminar on El comensal; Lecture/seminar on Ocho apellidos vascos
Week 11: Seminar and workshop comparing approaches to division and identity El comensal and Ocho apellidos vascos
Week 12: Essay planning and writing workshops

Final essay (due Week 13): Comparative essay (1500-2000 words) on El comensal and Ocho apellidos vascos

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module will be delivered face-to-face through two lectures, seminars, or workshops per week. Students will be expected to read and watch set scenes from the texts and films ahead of class, to prepare questions or read secondary sources for seminars, and to participate actively in discussions. The summative assessment has three components: an introductory commentary (10%), a group presentation (40%), and a final essay (50%). Formative work and activities will be set as practice for these assessments, with feedback provided by the module coordinator. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Introductory commentary (500-750 words): close analysis of one technique used to shape the way we view the legacy of the Spanish Civil War in the book extracts/film scenes we have studied Week 6 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Presentation: Group presentations on literary and cinematic responses to the 2008 financial crisis in Spain Week 8 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Essay: Comparative essay (1500-2000 words) on El comensal and Ocho apellidos vascos Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Set text
Gabriela Ybarra, El comensal (2015); translated by Natasha Wimmer as The Dinner Guest (2018)

Set film
Emilio Martínez-Lázaro, Ocho apellidos vascos (2014)