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Course Description
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Spanish Civilization and Culture
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)
Barcelona, Spain

Subject Area(s) Level(s) Instruction in Credits Contact Hours Prerequisites
Cultural Studies 300 English 3 45 N/A

Students learn about the huge social transformation and the changes that have occurred in Spain since the old political regime created after the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). This class studies the transition to a Spanish democracy, the political parties, and the function of different institutions such as the Crown, the Courts, judicial power, and the Comunidades Autónomas. The class also studies Spain and its international relations, for example with the European Union. It compares Spain's transition to democracy with that of other countries; the economy, and customs and daily life in Spain today. Students are also briefly exposed to Spanish art and cinema to trace some common threads of Spanish culture and how changes in society are depicted in art and film.


1- The Remote Past

1.1 Early inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula and Ecological Change

1.2 Tartessos and tribal society: the Iberians and other ethnic groups

1.3 Trading depots and early colonies: Phoenecians, Carthaginians and Hellenic Greeks

1.4 Prime Stage for the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage (264-146 BCE)

2- Roman Hispania (second century BCE-fifth century CE)

2.1 The Roman urban system in Hispania and its implications

2.2 "Civilizing influences" and the Prime of Empire (Trajan and Hadrian)

2.3 Late Roman Hispania, the breakup of the Western Empire and Byzantine presence

3- Visigothic Hispania (c. 554-711)

3.1 Goths and their rivals, Vandals, Swabians and Byzantines

3.2 The Visigothic Kingdom and the establishment of Christian orthodoxy

3.3 The downfall of Visigothic Hispania and the myth of the "lost empire"

4- Islamic Al-Andalus (eighth-fifteenth centuries)

4.1 The limits of Islamic invasion

4.2 The Emirate of Cordova (711-929 CE) and the Umayyad Caliphate (tenth-eleventh centuries CE)

4.3 Islamic society: cultural expansion and the myth of a "happy time", uniting the "three peoples of the Book"

4.4 The breakup of the system: the "party kings", (eleventh-thirteenth centuries CE) and the successive renovations from North Africa (Almoravids, Almohads, Marinids, and the Nasrids in Granada)


5- The Hispanic "Goths" and "Franks", Crusader Kingdoms in Western Europe, and the myth of "Reconquest" (eighth-fifteenth centuries)

5.1 The Pyrenean Kingdoms: Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia

5.2 The Northwestern Kingdoms and the creation of Castille

5.3 The creation and development of Portugal

5.4 Aragon, Catalonia, France and rivalries in the Western Mediterranean

5.5 The Atlantic push, the drive towards Africa, and Luso-Castillian competition

6- The Union of the Christian Kingdoms in the fifteenth century

6.1 The invention of "Spain": a "Nation-state" or a "composite monarchy"?

6.2 The alternative: Portugal and Castille or Castille and Aragon

6.3 Naples, "the Italies", and the annexations of Nasrid Granada (1492) and Navarre (1512)

6.4 Religion, the substitute for unity, and the dispersal or conversion of Jewish or Islamic minorities (1492-1614)

7- Hitting the Jackpot: the "discovery"/conquest of the Americas and the imperial role in Europe under the Habsburg dynasty (sixteenth-seventeenth centuries)

7.1 The first world power: "Spain" as an identity forged by outsiders

7.2 Cultural hightide and uncounted riches: the annexation of Portugal (1580) and the world-wide struggle for mastery of the seas

7.3 The highpoint and the fast drop: the "crisis of the seventeenth century" (1640-1653), and the new European powers

8- Internal reform and its contradictions under a new French dynasty: the Bourbons (eighteenth century)

8.1 The "first civil war", as well as a general European conflict: the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714)

8.2 The reconstruction of a Bourbon balance and the continuity of empire: the "Italies" and beyond

8.3 The bitter fight behind the scenes for structural reform and its limits: the "nationalist" alternative and sideways evolution for and against "revolution" (1766-1808)

9- A century of revolution (nineteenth century)

9.1 The "second civil war": invasion under a new French dynasty: the Bonapartes (1808-1814)

9.2 The victory of the "patriot" cause and the hidden rivalry of absolutists, neo-traditionalists, constitutionalists and revolutionaries

9.3 The loss of the American mainland

9.4 The monarchy restored restored without stability, and the impossible search for a lasting political settlement

9.5 A liberal and conservative alliance for development against the hardline "antiglobalizers" becomes a semi permanent civil war

9.6 Many false starts and, finally, seeming stability after 1876

9.7 The loss of insular empire (1898): Spain has to become an exclusively European nation


10- An emerging economy in the twentieth century

10.1 Urbanization, development and its social cost

10.2 The failure of "whig parlamentarism" (1912-1923)

10.3 The development of dictatorship and a new republican experiment (1923-1933)

10.4 The traumatic "civil war": an international spectacle (1934-1939)

10.5 Stable dictatorship without a clear continuity (1939-1975)

10.6 The "great change-over" and the "transition" to democracy (1975-1982)

10.7 European integration and the ailments of "postmodernity" (1982 to the present)

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