Cultural Expression and Historical Memory in Contemporary Spain

"Guernica" by Pablo Picasso
"Guernica" by Pablo Picasso
Next Offered
Spring 2020
Application Deadline

Program Description


The Spanish Civil War (1936-39) ended with the victory of Francisco Franco, and his dictatorship lasted until his death in 1975. Since the early 2000s there has been a grass-roots movement for the recovery of the memory of the war and dictatorship. We will study both the history of those 40 years as well as different cultural artefacts (novels, short stories, documentary and fiction film) that grapple to come to terms with that traumatic past.

In spring quarter 2020 we will be leading a group of motivated students on a program to the UW Leon Center in Spain. It will be a 16-credit, dual-track program, available both to Spanish majors and interested students from other disciplines. The main course will be Spanish 438, cross-listed with classes from other departments: “Cultural Expression and Historical Memory in Contemporary Spain” (5 cr.). Students will also take a class in contemporary Spanish history (5 cr.) and Spanish language at the appropriate level, both taught by local faculty at the University of Leon Language Center. A 1-credit service learning placement in English classes at public schools is also part of the experience. Students will do homestays with local families, and the program will include field trips and cooking classes.

Spanish 438: We will study a number of different texts that engage the issue of the recovery of the historical memory of the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath during the Franco years. Some 30 years after the death of the dictator, Spain is finally coming to terms with this turbulent past. In addition to reading novels and analyzing films, both documentary and fiction, that grapple with this subject, we’ll visit the headquarters and museum of the Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica, based in the province of León, to understand the grassroots nature of this movement. We will have several visiting lecturers as well.

 Learning goals:

  • Understand the complex history of mid-20th century Spanish politics, culture and society
  • Read and analyze a number of canonical works of contemporary Spanish literature, art and film
  • Learn to parse the intersection of history and literature
  • Practice collaborative learning through group projects
  • Interview families of participants and victims of the war from both sides
  • Engage in public presentation of the results of their research and hands-on projects


The dates of the program will coincide with Spring Quarter on campus (March 30, 2020 - June 12, 2020).


This is a dual track program. Courses taken while enrolled in this program are determined by whether a student takes a Spanish or English track:

  • SPAN 438/CLIT 395/CHID 471/LSJ 495/JSIS 394/HSTEU 490 : Cultural Expression and Historical Memory in Contemporary Spain (5 credits) VLPA
  • SPAN 393/493: Cultural and Political History of Spain, 1898-2006 (5 credits) VLPA
  • SPAN 199/299/393 (depending on language level): Spanish Language (5 credits) VLPA
  • SPAN 392- Service Learning (1 credit, graded CR/NC only)


Students can take a maximum of 15 credits towards the major in Spanish, a maximum of 12 credits towards the minor in Spanish, and 10 credits in Spanish for General Studies credit, through study abroad program.

Housing Information

The students' primary housing will be with home stay families, who will provide students with a room of their own and 3 meals a day. No more than one native English-speaking student will be placed in a home. Students will fill out a form indicating their preference of type of family as well as any allergies and dietary restrictions, which will then be sent to FGULEM so that our contacts there can arrange the home stays.

Eligibility & Application

Eligibility Requirements

Dual Track Program. For those doing the Spanish track, the prerequisite is successful completion of SPAN 303, 321, 322, and a 300-level literature elective before the start of the program. Advanced 300-level students will also be considered for this program, and will receive 300-level credit. For those doing the English track, the prerequisite is successful completion of a 300-level course in their field of study.

Applications are due by November 15, 2019. To apply to the program, please visit the UW Study Abroad Office webpage for the program and click on the "Apply Now" button.

Financial & Enrollment Information

Program Fees

The estimated cost of the program (including homestay with local families, excursions, cultural activities, etc.) is $7,000 including the $450 fee to the UW Study Abroad Office. This amount does not include round-trip airfare, local transportation (except for the group excursions) , textbooks, passport, health insurance, and pocket money.


Notice of withdrawal from the program must be made in writing to both:

Department of Spanish & Portuguese Studies
Box 354360
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-4360
AND UW Study Abroad
Box 355815
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-5815

Contact Information

Questions about the program can be answered by:

Tony Geist
Padelford Hall, B-232
(206) 543-5629
Program Status