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2018/19 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

HIST5867M The Fragility of the Spanish State: Identity, Conflict and Resistance, 1808-1939

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Peter Anderson

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Spain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries stands out as a powerful example of some of the most important aspects of European modern history. Secularism, nationalism, class struggle, ideological polarisation, revolution and the construction of a 'fascist' state all mark the country's past over these two centuries. At the heart of these issues lay the fragility of the Spanish state.Enjoying a history of a resplendent Golden Age, the Spanish state in the nineteenth century lost its once powerful empire. The inheritor of a strong tradition of defending the Catholic cause, Spain in the nineteenth century also became beset by conflicts between secularists and champions of the faith. Efforts to build a centralised liberal state similarly provoked reactionary traditionalists, federalists and regionalists while setting the scene for the rise of Europe's largest anarchist movement. In the first half of the twentieth century, a dramatic struggle over identity erupted. While some Catalan nationalists strove to regenerate the Spanish state in Catalonia's image, others battled to achieve an independent Catalonia. Meanwhile, groups of Catalan nationalists in league with employers' organisations began to gun down members of the anarchist CNT intent on doing away with the Spanish state and creating a new revolutionary order. At the same time, members of the Church portraying themselves as the embodiment of the nation mobilised millions of voters against Republican efforts to forge a secular national identity and nation state. In the Civil War of 1936-1939, these tensions exploded in revolution, the slaughter of thousands of priests and a 'crusade' that led to the foundation of one of Europe’s harshest national security states.By focusing on the fragility of the Spanish state and the battles over identity and nationalism this course goes to the heart of Spain's, and Europe's, nineteenth and twentieth century history and is led by a unique team of four scholars who are specialists in the fields of Spanish liberalism, nationalism, anarchism and the Spanish Civil War.


To examine the history of the fragile Spanish state in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
To assess the major historical approaches to the study of nationalism, regionalism, secularism, anarchism and state and identity construction in the Spanish context.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module, students will be able to demonstrate:
1. A critical understanding of the major concepts and approaches used by historians in their study of Spanish state
2. A broad knowledge of the challenges faced in constructing national identity and the state in Spain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
3. The ability to review and analyse significant historiographical debates
4. The ability to express ideas and arguments effectively and persuasively in written work.

Skills outcomes
The module will allow students to refine their scholarly skills in historiographical analysis, independent research, essay writing and in interpreting different approaches to the study of history.


1 The Long Nineteenth Century
2 Education and Catholicism in the Nineteenth Century: the battle for minds
3 Church and State in the Nineteenth Century: the battle for power and influence
4 Regionalism, Nationalism and the Spanish State in the Nineteenth Century
5 From the Loss of Empire to Civil War: the Spanish state 1898-1936
6 Social and Political Conflict in Catalonia and the Spanish State 1898-1936
7 Spanish Anarchists Against the State: theory and practice
8 Spanish Anarchists Against the State: culture, gender and resistance
9 Creating Spaniards: constructing national identity in Republican Spain
10 Civil War, Revolution and the Fragmentation of the Spanish State
11 Franco's Crusade and the Building of the New State

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Undertaking set reading for seminars; broader, independent reading for weekly classes, researching, preparing and completing two written assignments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contributions to class discussions, feedback on written essays, tutorials with the module leaders.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,000-word essay due by 12 noon Monday of teaching week 833.00
Essay1 x 4,000-word essay due by 12 noon Monday of exam week 267.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2018


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