Spanish 36 Syllabus

Submitted by Sara J. Brenneis

Spanish 36: Representation and Reality in Spanish Cinema
Spring 2008
M, W 12:30-1:50 + additional screenings

Chapin 210    
Profa. Sara J. Brenneis
office: Barrett 106
office hours: Monday 2-3; Wednesday 11-12 and by appointment

I.    Course Description

Since the mid-1990s, Spanish cinema has entered a global film market, bringing large screen representations of Spain and its people to wider audiences inside and outside the Iberian Peninsula.  This course will consist of a critical overview of the role filmmakers from varied backgrounds have taken in interpreting similar trends in contemporary Spanish culture and society.  By analyzing Spanish cinema from the last half-century, with a particular emphasis on the last decade, along with selected critical texts on current issues in Spain, we will explore such questions as women’s roles in contemporary society, immigration and exile, globalization, and experiences of war and violence, among other themes.  This course will take a transatlantic approach, examining how these issues are imagined within Spain as well as by filmmakers and writers from the Americas, and study the sociological, cultural and political forces that have inspired such cinematic representations.

II.    Objectives and Grading

Students will view Spanish cinema produced during the second half of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century, considering these cultural productions in conjunction with readings on current events affecting Spain, social issues in the country, and theoretical considerations of Spanish film.  During classroom activities and discussions, students will analyze texts and films in terms of their subject matter, cinematic and technical style, historical and contemporary resonance, critical and popular reception, the filmmakers’ background and vision, and secondary critical sources.  The participation grade is based on the students’ involvement and engagement in classroom discussion as well as during short oral presentations over the course of the semester.  Students will write five reviews of films, analyzing thematic and technical elements of the film, providing a summary and critical evaluation, and in some cases a comparative outlook. In addition, students will view one additional contemporary Spanish film (choosing from a list provided by the professor), presenting it orally and in writing to the class as their final project.

Film reviews – 50%
Final project – 20%
Classroom participation (engagement, discussion, presentations) – 30%

III.    Student Responsibilities

Students are expected to adhere to Amherst College’s Honor Code at all times.  Students with disabilities or specific limitations that will affect their participation in the course should speak with the professor privately as soon as possible to make arrangements.  Regular attendance is required and absences will adversely affect the participation grade.  If students must miss a class, regardless of the reason, they should communicate with a classmate about what they missed and inform themselves of the homework for the next class.  In order to respect the professor and the students, cell phones and other technological distractions are not permitted during class.  Although much of the reading is necessarily in English, this course is nevertheless conducted entirely in Spanish: respectful dialogue en español is expected at all times!

Please be aware that the majority of the films under scrutiny in this class contain sensitive material, including scenes of violence and sexuality.  Any student concerned with the content of the films would be advised to speak with the professor directly.

Please Note: In addition to the scheduled class meeting times, there are four evening film screenings in Pruyne Lecture Hall (115 Fayerweather) during the course of the semester.  Attendance is highly encouraged; please reserve these times in your schedules as soon as possible:

Tuesday, Feb. 5 @ 7:30-9:45pm Volver (2006) – dir. Pedro Almodóvar

Tuesday, Feb. 19 @ 7:30-9:15pm La caza (1965) – dir. Carlos Saura

Tuesday, March 4 @ 7:30-9:30pm El laberinto del fauno (2006) – dir. Guillermo del Toro

Tuesday, March 25 @ 7:30-9:30pm El bola (2000) – dir. Achero Manas

IV.    Course Readings:

1) Required Text (Available at Amherst Books)
•    Spanish Cinema: A Student’s Guide, Barry Jordan and Mark Allinson (Oxford)

2) Critical Texts (Course Packet available in Barrett 201)
•    Selections – from Cómo se comenta un texto fílmico
•    “Censorship or the Fear of Mass Culture,” Jo Labanyi; “Gender and Sexuality,” Rosa Montero, Anny Brooksbank Jones and Chris Perriam; “Some Perspectives on the Nation-State and Autonomies in Spain,” Antonio Elorza – from Spanish Cultural Studies: An Introduction
•    “La ‘hispanización’ del cine español,” Isabel Santaolalla; “La violencia enfocada,” Dagmar Schmelzer – from Miradas glocales: cine español en el cambio de milenio
•    Scenes 0-3 and “Textos adicionales” – from Volver (guión)
•    “España vs. cultura del abuso,” and “España: menos violencia doméstica,”, 6 October 2005 and 15 November 2005
•    Selections from “Más riesgos y menos protección: Mujeres inmigrantes en España frente a la violencia de género,” Amnesty Internation Spain report
•    “Los cines sólo proyectarán filmes españoles ‘rentables,’” La Razón (8 December 2007) and “Los exhibidores amenazan con ‘echar’ al cine nacional...,” El Mundo (8 December 2007)

3) Films (Amherst Streaming Video and/or on Reserve)
•    ¡Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall! (1953) – dir. Luis García Berlanga (not available on reserve or streaming)
•    La caza (1965) – dir. Carlos Saura
•    ¿¡Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!! (1984) – dir. Pedro Almodóvar
•    Jamón, Jamón (1992) – dir. Bigas Luna
•    Días contados (1994) – dir. Imanol Uribe
•    El bola (2000) – dir. Achero Manas
•    El espinazo del diablo (2001) – dir. Guillermo del Toro
•    Te doy mis ojos (2005) – dir. Icíar Bollaín
•    Princesas (2005) – dir. Fernando León de Aranoa
•    El laberinto del fauno (2006) – dir. Guillermo del Toro
•    Volver (2006) – dir. Pedro Almodóvar

4) Additional Texts on Reserve
•    Cómo se comenta un texto fílmico, Ramón Carmona
•    Spanish Cultural Studies: An Introduction, Helen Graham and Jo Labanyi, eds.
•    The Cambridge Companion to Modern Spanish Culture, David T. Gies, ed.
•    Volver (guión), Pedro Almodóvar
•    Live flesh : the male body in contemporary Spanish cinema, Santiago Fouz-Hernández,
•    Generation X rocks : contemporary peninsular fiction, film, and rock culture,  Christine Henseler and Randolph D. Pope
•    Selection of Spanish cinema on DVD and Videocassette

V.    Course Schedule (subject to change during the semester)


Semana 1    
lunes 28     Introducción al curso

miércoles 30    “Imagen, realidad y sentido: 1. Imagen de la realidad/realidad de la imagen” – Course Packet


Semana 2  

lunes 4    Spanish Cinema: Ch. 3, Authorship + Almodóvar (pp. 70-83)
Escenas 0-3 y “Textos adicionales” del guión de “Volver” – Course Packet

martes 5 – screening 7:30    Volver (2006) – dir. Pedro Almodóvar

miércoles 6    reseña de Volver:
discusión de Volver

Semana 3
    ¿¡Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto?! (1984) – dir. Pedro Almodóvar (streaming)

lunes 11    “II. Comentar, analizar, interpretar: 1 y 2” – Course Packet

miércoles 13    discusión de ¿¡Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!!
Reseña 1 (Almodóvar)

Semana 4    
lunes 18     “Censorship or the Fear of Mass Culture” – Course Packet

martes 19 – screening 7:30    La caza (1965) – dir. Carlos Saura

miércoles 20    Spanish Cinema: Ch. 6, Representation (pp. 134-139)
discusión de La caza

Semana 5    
lunes 25    Spanish Cinema: Ch. 6, Bienvenido... (143-147)
¡Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall! (1953) – dir. Luis García Berlanga (en clase)

miércoles 27    discusión de ¡Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall!
Reseña 2 (La caza o ¡Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall!)


Semana 6 
lunes 3    “Las etapas del comentario” – Course Packet
(opcional – Entrevista con Guillermo del Toro:

martes 4 – screening 7:30    El laberinto del fauno (2006) – dir. Guillermo del Toro

miércoles 5    discusión de El laberinto del fauno

Semana 7
    El espinazo del diablo (2001) – dir. Guillermo del Toro (streaming)

lunes 10    “La ‘hispanización’ del cine español” – Course Packet

miércoles 12    discusión de El espinazo del diablo
Reseña 3 (Guillermo del Toro)

Semana 8    
17 y 19 de marzo    VACACIONES DE PRIMAVERA

Semana 9 
lunes 24    “España vs. cultura del abuso,” “España: menos violencia doméstica,” “La violencia enfocada: El Bola” – Course Packet

martes 25 – screening 7:30    El bola (2000) – dir. Achero Manas

miércoles 26    discusión de El bola

Semana 10
    Te doy mis ojos (2005) – dir. Icíar Bollaín (streaming)

lunes 31    Spanish Cinema: Ch. 6, Gender. Films by Women, Te doy mis ojos (pp. 152-156; 160-161; 163-164)
Selecciones del informe de Amnistía Internacional España (accesible aquí: – Course Packet


miércoles 2    discusión de Te doy mis ojos
Reseña 4 (El bola y/o Te doy mis ojos)

Semana 11
    Princesas (2005) – dir. Fernando León de Aranoa (streaming)

lunes 7    “Gender and Sexuality” – Course Packet

miércoles 9    discusión de Princesas

Semana 12    Jamón, Jamón (1992) – dir. Bigas Luna (streaming)

lunes 14    Spanish Cinema: Ch. 1, History: 1975-2003 (pp. 24-34) + Ch. 6, Studies in Masculinities (pp. 167-169)

miércoles 16    discusión de Jamón, Jamón
Reseña 5 (Princesas y/o Jamón, Jamón)

Semana 13
    Días contados (1994) – dir. Imanol Uribe (streaming)

lunes 21    “Some Perspectives on the Nation-State and Autonomies in Spain” – Course Packet
El terrorismo de ETA:

miércoles 23    discusión de Días contados
Propuestas para la Presentación y el Reportaje final

Semana 14    
lunes 28    Spanish Cinema: Conclusion (pp. 194-196)
“Los cines sólo proyectarán filmes españoles ‘rentables’” y “Los exhibidores amenazan con ‘echar’ al cine nacional...” – Course Packet

miércoles 30    Presentaciones finales


Semana 15    
lunes 5    Presentaciones finales

miércoles 7    Presentaciones finales/Conclusiones

lunes, el 12 de mayo: Reportaje escrito de la presentación final