SPAN 5335: Genre Studies in Spain:
The Novel of the Transition to Democracy
After Francisco Franco died in 1975, Spain embarked on a remarkable and accelerated process of change. Politically, it moved from a dictatorship to a democracy. It was a time of great economic prosperity, social change and general freedom, but the initial excitement eventually turned into sober disillusionment. In the area of culture, its most prominent features were an opening in all modes of expression called “apertura” and the variety and abundance of the artistic production.
While the novels of previous decades were characterized by adopting a common aesthetics, such as “tremendismo” or social realism, the novel of the Transition branches out in many directions. In this course, we will examine some of the most interesting and representative novelistic categories of that time, such as the thriller, the novel of memory, the self-referential novel, and novels written by and about women. We will analyze the representation of the Transition and Francoism in these novels, the new emphasis on the act of writing (metafiction), the expansion of areas of experience included in fictional works (such as sexuality), and the general experimentation that occurs in the arts. The texts chosen for the course enjoyed both the esteem of literary critics and unprecedented commercial success.
Olga López-Valero Colbert is Associate Professor of Spanish and recipient of the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and joined the SMU faculty in 1999. Her book, The Gaze on the Past: Popular Culture and History in Antonio Muñoz Molina’s Novels, was published by Bucknell University Press in 2007. The range of her research stretches chronologically from the Generation of 1898 and the exile from Spain’s Civil War, to the literature of the Transition to democracy and the 1990s. Her work has appeared in journals such as España Contemporánea, Romance Language Notes, Ojáncano, and Revista Hispánica Moderna.
Learning Outcomes and Benefits
After taking this course, students will:
- Have a more nuanced understanding of the history and culture of Spain the late 20th century
- Be able to knowledgeably discuss the nature and evolution of the Spanish novel of the Transition to democracy
- Be able to produce increasingly sophisticated analyses of literary texts in Spanish
- Demonstrate a clear knowledge of the Spanish novels studied in class
- Have improved their linguistic abilities in Spanish, having had ample practice discussing abstract ideas, and defending arguments and theses both orally and in writing