One intermediate subject in Spanish or permission of instructor.

In this class we will come to understand the vast changes in Spanish life that have taken place since Franco's death in 1975. We will focus on the new freedom from censorship, the re-emergence of movements for regional autonomy, the new cinema, reforms in education and changes in daily life: sex roles, work, and family that have occurred in the last decade. In so doing, we will examine myths that are often considered commonplaces when describing Spain and its people.

Most of the reading material for this course will consist of articles and hand-outs. The articles and hand-outs will allow us to share information on politics, film, the new constitution, art, education, immigration, the autonomous regions, "la movida" and fashion. You will need a sturdy binder to bring to class each day so that you do not lose the hand-outs. In addition, we will be reading two novels: El Dueño del secreto and Las Historias del Kronen. These texts will help you understand the tension surrounding Franco's death and "Generación X" the first generation to redefine language, social convention, and popular culture in the 1990s. Because the language invented by "Generación X" was so new, in 1996 Francisco Umbral published Diccionario Cheli - a special Spanish dictionary that parents used to understand their children in the late 90s. In addition, I will be bringing poems, short stories, and newspapers to class that will form part of the work we do. There will be several movies and a telenovela used in the course as well as DVDs that chronicle the transición from dictatorship to democracy. Finally, I you will be asked to read El País so that we can discuss the way contemporary Spaniards view their own and international politics. Reading El País will be an essential part of this subject.

Course Pedagogy

This course is one in which students learn from each other as well as from the teacher. Class discussion of readings and sharing of individual research constitute the basis of an interactive pedagogical scheme.

This class is taught once a week. There will be significant viewing requirements and reading requirements outside of class.


  1. Class discussion is central to this course; therefore, you are expected to attend all classes. This is even more important because one absence is equivalent to one week's absence. Any unexcused absence will lower your grade.
  2. You will be asked to write short reaction papers based on the readings. One purpose of these papers is to get your thoughts and reactions together for class discussion: therefore, the papers must be handed-in when you come to class - not a few days or an hour later.
  3. The class will be run in a seminar fashion. By Lec #8 you will each choose some aspect of contemporary Spain you would like to explore in greater depth. These topics can include anything that interests you: film, educational reform, the problems engendered by having autonomous regions, fashion, music, religion, the new constitution, immigration, gender, law. The most important work you do in this course is the construction of a portfolio that reflects research and your response to that research on a chosen topic. I will be reviewing your work periodically throughout the term and, starting Lec #10, part of each class will be devoted to your giving presentations in which you share insights, problems, materials you have discovered as you do your research.
  4. You will be using the internet and other sources as you build your portfolio. Much of the portfolio will be constructed around articles you find in various places. Some of the portfolio will reflect your own thoughts. If you are in doubt about whether or not to cite sources in your own writing: see me. It is crucial that you state the difference between your thoughts and someone else's.

This class is conducted in Spanish. All the readings, with the exception of some chapters from Paul Preston's book on Juan Carlos, are in Spanish.

I will try to gear the course to each of your needs. Please let me know if you are having trouble during the semester or if there are specific language skills you would like to improve. This course should be an enjoyable one for you: it is varied in its materials and examines one of the only times in history when the transition from dictatorship - in this case a military / fascist dictatorship that endured almost 40 years - to democracy took place without bloodshed.


Class Participation 15%
Short Response Papers 20%
In-class Presentation of Portfolio 15%
Portfolio 50%