SPAN30200 Surrealism in Spain and Mexico

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module traces the chronological and geographical evolution of Surrealism in the Spanish-speaking world in painting, poetry and film. Focusing on key figures of the 1927 Generation in Spain and three artists who played key roles in ‘post-Surrealism’, or the evolution of the movement in Mexico in the 1940s, this module investigates how Surrealism provided the perfect vehicle for artists and poets to fashion their own image; to paint and write a Surrealist self. The layout of the module mimics the evolution of Surrealism as the movement was initially dominated by male voices until more women became involved in the 1930s and 40s. The module begins by asking how male artists interrogated their gender identities through the Surrealist aesthetic, before turning to questions of female identity and self-representation. Students will study works by Salvador Dalí, Federico García Lorca, Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington and Frida Kahlo.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
o Identify Surrealist imagery in painting, poetry and film
o Relate key images and texts to their wider historical context
o Analyse and interpret a painting or a piece of text
o Argue in detail and at length about an aspect of the topic, supporting the argument with evidence from the image/text and with opinions from secondary literature
o Understand the correlation between visual and textual imagery that characterised the Surrealist movement
o Understand the key concepts of self-fashioning and gender identity

Indicative Module Content:

Works Studied:
Luís Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, Un Chien Andalou (1929)
Federico García Lorca, Poemas en prosa (1927-28)
[Poems studied in order: ‘Santa Lucía y San Lázaro’, ‘Nadadora sumergida’, ‘Degollación del bautista’, ‘Amantes asesinados por una perdiz’, ‘Suicidio en Alejandría’.]
Selected works by the following artists:
Salvador Dalí
Leonora Carrington
Remedios Varo
Frida Kahlo

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The classes comprise of a lecture/tutorial hybrid as the first weeks are spent introducing students to the conceptual framework of Surrealism before interactive analytical activities can take place. Students are encouraged to analyse paintings, film and poetry in small group settings and in larger class discussion. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

An interest in literature and the visual arts.

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
Continuous Assessment: Critical commentary 1,500 words
Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: 2,500 word essay End of trimester MCQ n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn 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
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will engage in peer feedback activities of critical commentary before the first summative critical commentary assessment. They will receive written feedback on the critical commentary which will help them to prepare for the final essay.

Reading List

Allmer, Patricia et al., Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism (Munich; New York: Prestel, 2009)
Balakian, Anna, André Breton: Magus of Surrealism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971)
Bohn, Willard, The rise of Surrealism: Cubism, Dada and the pursuit of the marvelous (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002)
Breton, André, Manifestoes of Surrealism, trans. By Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane (Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1972)
Caws, Mary Ann, André Breton (New York: Twayne, 1971)
Chadwick, Whitney, Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement (London: Thames and Hudson , 1985)
Hopkins, David, Dada’s boys: Masculinity after Duchamp (New Haven, Conn.; London: Yale University Press, 2007)
Rodríguez Prampolini, Ida, El surrealismo y el arte fantástico de México (Mexico: UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, 1969)
Read, Herbert (ed.), Surrealism (London: Faber, 1971)
Rosemount, Franklin, André Breton and the first principles of surrealism: a companion volume to ‘What is surrealism?’: selected writings of André Breton (London: Pluto Press, 1978)
Wills, David, Self (de)construct: writing and the surrealist text (Townsville, QLD, Australia: Department of Modern Languages, James Cook University of North Queensland, 1985)

Greeley, Robin Adele, Surrealism and the Spanish Civil War (New Haven, Conn; London: Yale University Press, 2006)
Havard, Robert, The Spanish Eye: Painters and poets of Spain (Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2007)
Ilie, Paul, The Surrealist Mode in Spanish Literature: an interpretation of basic trends from post-romanticism to the Spanish vanguard (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1968)
Molina Barea, María del Carmen, ‘Buster Keaton y el surrealismo en la Residencia de Estudiantes: Razones de una confluencia’, Archivo Español de Arte, LXXXVI, 341 enero-marzo 2012, 29-48
Morris, C.B., Surrealism and Spain, 1920-36 (London: Cambridge University Press, 1972)
__________, The surrealist adventure in Spain (Ottawa: Dovehouse Editions, 1991)
Ocaña, Isabel Navas, ‘El origen de un tópico literario: tradición y vanguardia en la generación del 27’, Revista Chilena de Literatura, Abril 2010, Número 76, 237 – 256
Sánchez Vidal, Agustín, Buñuel, Lorca, Dalí: El enigma sin fin (Barcelona: Planeta, 1988)

Edwards, Gwynne, A Companion to Luis Buñuel (Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2005)
Gibson, Ian, The Shameful Life of Salvador Dalí (London: Faber and Faber, 1997)
__________, Dalí joven, Dalí genial (Madrid: Aguilar, 2004)
Taléns, Jenaro, El ojo tachado: lectura de Un Chien Andalou de Luis Buñuel (Madrid: Catedra, 1986)
Thiher, Allen, ‘Surrealism’s Enduring Bite: Un Chien Andalou’, Literature/Film Quarterly, Jan 01, 1977; Vol. 5, No. 1, 38-49
Williams, Linda, Figures of Desire: A Theory and Analysis of Surrealist Film (Berkeley, Calif.; Oxford, University of California Press, 1992)

Cerdó, Luisa, ‘Federico García Lorca entre Salvador Dalí y Sebastià Gasch’, Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, June 2001, Vol 7, No. 1, 5-26
Gibson, Ian, Federico García Lorca: De Fuente Vaqueros a Nueva York (1898-1929) (Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1985)
McMullan, Terence, ‘Federico García Lorca’s “Santa Lucía y San Lázaro” and the Aesthetics of Transition, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, LXVII (1990) [request a copy from tutor]
McMullan, Terence, The Crystal and the Snake: Aspects of French Influence on Guillén, Lorca and Cernuda (Anstruther, Fife: La Sirena, 2002)
Oppenheimer, Helen, Lorca, the drawings: their relation to the poet’s life and work (London: Herbert, 1986)
Sanmartín Bastida, Rebeca, ‘De Dalí a Lorca: El poema en prosa surrealista’, Forma breve 2, 2004, 81-103 (available via Google search)


Aberth, Susan, Leonora Carrington: Surrealism, Alchemy and Art (Hampshire; Burlington: Lund Humphries, 2004)

Carrington, Leonora, The seventh horse and other stories, trans. by Katherine Talbot and Anthony Kerrigan (London: Virago, 1989)

Chadwick, Whitney, ‘Leonora Carrington: Evolution of a feminist consciousness’, Woman's Art Journal, 7, 1986, 37-42

Choucha, Nadia, Surrealism and the Occult (Oxford: Mandrake, 1991)

Gómez, Edward, Nobody’s Muse, Art & Antiques, 34, 9, 2011, 66-77

Shandler Levitt, Annette, ‘The bestial fictions of Leonora Carrington’, Journal of Modern Literature, 20, 1, 1996, 65-74


Cándenas, Inés Ferrero, ‘Reconfiguring the Surrealist Gaze: Remedios Varo’s Images of Women’, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 88, 4, 2011, 455-467

Durán, Gloria, ‘The Antipodes of Surrealism: Salvador Dalí and Remedios Varo’, Symposium, 42, 1989, 297-311

Epps, Brad, ‘The Texture of the Face: logic, narration and figurative details in Remedios Varo’, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, 4, 2, 2003, 185-203

Haynes, Deborah J., ‘The Art of Remedios Varo: Issues of Gender Ambiguity and Religious Meaning’, Woman’s Art Journal, 16, 1, 1995

Kaplan, Janet, Unexpected Journeys: The Art and Life of Remedios Varo (New York: Abbeville Press, 1988)

Kaplan, Lauren A., ‘Traces of Influence: Giorgio de Chirico, Remedios Varo and ‘lo real maravilloso’, Latin Americanist, 54, 3, 2010, 25-46

Rosa, María Laura, ‘Remedios Varo: tejedoras del Universo’, Goya, Jul 1999, 271-278


Blake, Kevin and Pankl, Lis, ‘Made in her image: Frida Kahlo as material culture’, Material Culture, 44, 2, 2012

Borsa, Joan, ‘Frida Kahlo: Marginalization and the critical female subject’, Third Text, 4, 12, 1990, 21-40 [request from tutor]

Goldman, Shifra M., ‘Mirror mirror on the wall’, Art Nexus, 32, May 1999, 72-76

Havard, Lucy Ann, ‘Frida Kahlo, Mexicanidad and Máscaras: The Search for Identity in Post-Colonial Mexico’, Romance Studies, 24, 3, 2006, 241-251

Knafo, Danielle, In her own image: women’s self-representation in twentieth-century art (Cranbury, N.J.: Associated University Presses, 2009)

Name Role
Dr Tara Plunkett Lecturer / Co-Lecturer