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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SPPO3050 Things Can Only Get Better: The Role of the Arts and Cultural Institutions in Spain's Transition to Democracy (1962-1992)

20 creditsClass Size: 20

Module manager: Dr Duncan Wheeler

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

Successful completion of Level 2 and Year Abroad on any of the abovementioned degree programmes.

This module is mutually exclusive with

SPPO3070Contemporary Spain: From Franco to Zapatero (1975-2010)

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will begin with an examination of frequently derided manifestations of popular culture (music, romance novels; celebrity press etc.) from the dictatorship period, which will be contrasted with more elite and generally, but not necessarily, oppositional artistic practices. Prior to 1975, many artists assumed that the death of Franco would facilitate political and creative freedoms, which would give rise to a culture of unprecedented vitality with its closest social and historical precedents in the Second Republic. This keenly anticipated fiesta was, however, felt to be anti-climatic and left what could be characterised as a national hangover. This oscillation between optimism and disillusionment would characterise multiple attempts to forge a new national culture that, it was often hoped, would change domestic and international perceptions of Spain. In this module, students will explore a wide range of media and consider to what extent artists were co-opted by various political and ideological agendas in a period of transition that encompasses both authoritarian and democratic governance. They will, for example, consider whether the artists associated with the drug-fuelled youth movement known as La Movida helped to create a libertarian paradise in the Spanish capital and/or whether they were pawns in a politically orchestrated marketing campaign.


Between 1962 and the death of General Franco in 1975, the Spanish economy became the second fastest-growing in the world after Japan. This was both the cause and consequence of an increased normalisation in relation to its European neighbours, a process that was both shaped and reflected through the arts and cultural production.
In this module, students will examine how the arts and cultural policy were used and manipulated as a means of forging a new democratic identity under both authoritarian and democratic governments. Cultural studies will be used as a tool through which to further understanding of recent Spanish history, literature, film, television, journalism and music.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should:
- understand many of the theoretical differences between the page, stage and screen
- have an in-depth knowledge of a series of set-texts
- be aware of how and why literature, music, drama, film and television was used to avoid censorship under Franco and to court subsidies during the democratic regime
- have considered why and how the depiction of romance and erotica changed between 1962 and 1992
- appreciate how and why literature, drama and music have related to national identity in late twentieth century Spain

Skills outcomes
There will be the option of carrying out translation tasks, and all students will have to discuss translation choices and the appropriateness of specific linguistic registers to particular kinds of cultural production in seminars.

There will be the option to improve accent and intonation through performance-based drama tasks in the seminars; all students will become more attuned to accent, register and intonation through the discussions that will ensue.


Indicative topics of study include:
- Socio-historical background
- The romantic novels of Corín Tellado
- Disillusionment with democratic culture
- Reclaiming the past and forbidden memories
- The creation of a new national theatre and cinema
- La Movida
- The arrival of Almodóvar
- Madrid in popular song and journalism
- The changing nature and remit of children's television
- Promiscuity and liberty in reconfigured national identities
- Women's role in the media and democratic culture
- Selling and marketing Spain in 1992.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Reading, watching and listening to set texts = 45 hours
- Preparation for seminar discussion = 3x11 = 33 hours
- Preparation for 3,000-word essay = 50 hours
- Preparation for and writing of exam (2 question) = 50 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Informal feedback in seminar debates
- Open office-day at beginning of semester 2 where students can come and discuss their essay plans (questions to be released prior to Christmas in order for them to decide on a question and do initial research over the vacation).
- Formal written feedback on 3,000 word essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 words40.00
Group Project/Project/DissertationGroup Presentation10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Group presentation will be Digital Presentation (pre-recorded if circumstances require)

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment48 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

48 hour take away exam. The format of this exam may be subject to change should the situation surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic allow. Students will be informed well in advance if this becomes the case.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 25/02/2022 11:30:37


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