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Icons and Representations of the Hispanic World

Module Code: HP104
Module Name: Icons and Representations of the Hispanic World
Module Convenor: Dr Tom Whittaker

Online Lecture (asynchronous). Materials will be posted on the Moodle course.

Seminars: Face to face

Module Credits: 30

Module Convenor: Dr Tom Whittaker
Module Tutors:
Dr Rich Rabone, Dr Leticia Villamediana González, Dr Tom Whittaker, Maria Reyes Baztán

Module Description (2021-22)

Bienvenid@s! Have you ever wondered where the most famous icons and familiar stereotypes of Spain and Latin America come from? How have they circulated and been understood at different times and in different places? And how have Spaniards and Latin Americans represented themselves to travellers, tourists, artists, and even invaders?

The module will introduce you to a wide range of written and visual representations of the Hispanic world, and some of its most influential and iconic cultural figures. We’ll investigate where familiar stereotypes of Spain and Latin America come from, from the early modern ‘Black Legend’ to the Spanish Civil War and Franco dictatorship. And we’ll meet some of the biggest names in Hispanic culture, from Don Juan to Picasso. This year's selection includes:

Autumn Term

Section 1 (Weeks 1-5) Love and Deceit in the Spanish Golden Age, taught by Dr Rich Rabone

The first part of this module looks at two iconic figures from Spain's past. In weeks 2-3, we’ll start with Don Juan – Spain’s most famous seducer, and the model for all sorts of Casanova figures. But the odd thing about the original version of this tale is that it was written by a monk – so when we read this play, we’ll ask why people always fall for Don Juan’s tricks, and why a monk was so interested in this tale of seduction. In weeks 4-5, we’ll then move on to a short story by Spain’s most famous writer of all time, Miguel de Cervantes. It’s a story about a man who married for money, but accidentally married a pauper, who then abandoned him and left him with syphilis. But he’s also the narrator of the story, so at the same time, he’s trying hard to make himself look innocent, and win our sympathy - can we really rely on him to tell the truth? We’ll ask who’s actually being tricked here, how that affects us as readers, and what kind of moral you can draw from a story so full of lies.

Primary texts: Tirso de Molina (attrib.), El burlador de Sevilla 
Miguel de Cervantes, 'El casamiento engañoso'; 'Prólogo' to the Novelas ejemplares

Section 2. (Weeks 7-10) 'The Spanish Black Legend: Hispanophilia and Hispanophobia', Dr Leticia Villamediana González.

In this section, we will explore how Spain has been perceived and described through history, looking at literature, propaganda, paintings and films. We analyse the phenomenon of the Spanish Black Legend, its existence, its legacy and how it has affected the way Spaniards saw and see themselves nowadays.

Primary texts: Bartolomé de las Casas, Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias; También la lluvia/Even the Rain (Iciar Bollaín), and political and satirical prints. The film will be available online on Moodle.

Spring Term

Section 3. (Weeks 1-4) 'Visualising Spain in the Twentieth Century', Dr Tom Whittaker

This section traces the ways in which Spanish national identity has been imagined and critiqued through painting and film during the twentieth century. It also introduces students to some of the technical terms needed to study film and visual terms, as well as a critical understanding of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the Franco regime (1939-1975).

Primary texts: Bienvenido Mr. Marshall (Luis Garcia Berlanga) and Picasso's Guernica. Film will be available online on Moodle.

Section 4. (Weeks 5-10) 'The Spanish Empire and its aftermath: race, colonisation and resistance', Maria Reyes Baztán.

This section explores the making of the Spanish Transatlantic Empire and its aftermath. From the arrival of Christopher Colombus until the present day, we will explore through the use of images, literature and other sources, the discourses and practices that the Spaniards used to colonise the Americas and the legacies of empire in our daily life.

The module has a weekly lecture (online) and seminar. Both are taught in English and texts will be available (when possible) in Spanish and in English. You will prepare for each seminar with guided research, reflection and close reading of a set text or extract. Each session combines tutor-led lecture with student-led analysis and discussion. Your work in this course will help you to extend the linguistic ability you will acquire in language modules, to develop your critical reading skills, and to manage and understand a wide range of primary and secondary source materials.


Assessment Method:

Assessment is designed to develop your advanced writing and analytical skills in English. Over the course of the year, you will prepare three independent pieces of work. You will have individual feedback meetings with your tutors to discuss each piece of work, and you will choose your best two pieces to revise for submission as an assessed portfolio at the end of the year.

Formative assessment:

2 x 1500-word commentaries/essays in English to be submitted during the year. These will be revised and submitted in summative portfolio.

Summative assessment:

2 x 2000-2500-word commentaries/essays in English (revised from formative work)

Image of a man standing in front of a cross2021-2022: Terms 1 & 2
Lecture: Online. Materials will be provided on Moodle.
Seminar A: Mondays 12-1pm in H0.51
Seminar B: Mondays 1pm-2pm in S0.20
Seminar C: Mondays 6pm-7pm in R.0.12

Moodle HP104 page (for seminar work and supporting materials)


‘Faces of the Conquistador’
© Visual Artist Frank Bonilla