Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Spanish)


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Spanish Language 2A (SPAN2011) OR Spanish Language 2B (SPAN2111) OR an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern European Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: Spanish Language 4 (SPAN3011). Other: see Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This research-led module offers an in-depth analysis of insular cultural production from the islands of the Hispanic Caribbean and the Canary Islands in the first half of the 20th century.
  • Students engage with the critical literature on the complexities of cross-cultural encounters and aesthetic negotiations in the context of the postcolonial Atlantic.
  • Students learn how to interpret an important corpus of written and visual texts as a means to analyse the modern genealogies of experimental avant-garde cultures in the Hispanic Atlantic.
  • The module further asserts the centrality of regional and 'peripheral' spaces as a means to understand the unique cultural and political contributions of island cultures to our contemporary ways of seeing and reading in the globalized Atlantic.


  • Framed by the two world wars, the Soviet Revolution, and the Spanish Civil War, the 1920s and 1930s were a period of economic and political crisis across the world. This module offers a detailed and illustrated critical exploration of the question: What did the world look like in images, writings, and cultural performances by Caribbean and (pen)insular avant-gardists working both within and outside local contexts?
  • The module engages with the avant-garde period in the diverse regions of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain that produced a series of debates on insularity, regionalism and nationalism, black politics and diasporas, cosmopolitanism, and primitivism.
  • These topics were not the sole province of European authors and critics, but figured centrally in artistic creation, as well as in manifestos, journals, and essays across the islands. The Atlantic and insular perspectives contained in these texts contributed in unique and unexpected ways to the formation and international impact of avant-garde ideas and practices.
  • While this module focuses specifically on visual and textual cultures, discussions and assignments will also emphasize gender, race, and class representations and appropriations of insularity in relation to international geopolitical scenarios.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To gain a solid critical understanding of fundamental concepts and methodological approaches in cultural analysis as they apply to the Hispanic Atlantic, such as race and ethnicity, diaspora and transculturation, hybridity and mobility, the poetics of relation, ecocriticism, and post-creole studies.
  • To analyse and define how insular avant-garde groups from the Caribbean and the Canary Islands participated in transnational experiments in visual culture and writing.
  • To identifty and develop research questions with the objective of constructing specific case studies on the historical relationship between, among others, minority discourses, regionalism, and the development of nationalist politics in the avant-garde period.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The ability to work with both archival materials and well-known canonical works from both sides of the Hispanic Atlantic in the first half of the twentieth century.
  • The development of research and critical skills that involve detailed reading, conceptual reasoning, and iconographic analysis.
  • The ability to analyse different categories of texts in a historically and culturally situated perspective, and in relation to contemporary debates in visual and literary theory.
Key Skills:
  • Writing, analytical and critical skills
  • Research and time management skills
  • PowerPoint, management of video/digital technology, IT skills (word-processing of assignments, use of an online learning environment, use of online sources of information), use of internet archives and other visual resources

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module will be taught intensively either in Term I or in Term II on a 'short-fat 'basis.
  • Lectures (twice weekly) will deliver key information about the module
  • A weekly seminar with smaller groups will allow for individual presentations and active discussions
  • This format responds to student feedback gained in SSCC and NSS responses

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 2 Per Week 1 Hour 20
Seminars 10 1 Per Week 1 Hour 10
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay 1 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2,000-words 100% No
Component: Summative Essay 2 Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2 3,000-words 100% No

Formative Assessment:


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University