Module LXS-2035:
Barcelona: a Cultural History

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Eva Bru-Dominguez

Overall aims and purpose

This module studies the cultural history of the city of Barcelona, one of the key symbols of Catalan cultural identity. It introduces theoretical approaches to urban studies and examines a range of visual artefacts and performances, including, architecture, cinema, sculpture, theatre and performance art. The module examines the relationship urban space, memory and identity through close textual analysis of artistic production. Specific case studies include: 1) architecture: the Hospital de Sant Pau (Lluís Domènech i Montaner); 2) sculpture: Arístides Maillol and/or Josep Clarà; 3) novel: La plaça del Diamant [In Diamond Square] (Mercè Rodoreda); 4) theatre: Hamelin (Juan Mayorga); 5) performance art: La Fura dels Baus and/or La Cubana; and 6) film: Barcelona, un mapa (Ventura Pons).

Course content

The module will cover the following topics: 1) Theoretical Approaches to the Urban Space; 2) Beyond the City Walls: Building Modern Barcelona; 3) Modernista architecture: the Hospital de Sant Pau; 4) Mediterranean Classicism: Noucentista ideology and concept of the city-nation; 5) Socio-political History: a City under Siege; 6) Subjectivity and Space: In Diamond Square (1962) by Mercè Rodoreda; 8) Liminal Urban Spaces: Staging El Raval neighbourhood in Hamelin (2005) by Juan Mayorga; 9) The City as a Stage: La Fura dels Baus, Els Comediants and La Cubana; 10) Historicity and Temporality in Barcelona, un mapa (2008) by Ventura Pons; 11) Urban Renewal: architecture, art and design in the Olympic era; and 11) From the Barcelona model to the Barcelona brand / Essay writing

Assessment Criteria


A- - A*: For the award of the highest grade, students should demonstrate a detailed comprehension of the various topics studied, with a nuanced understanding of the correlations and interrelations highlighted, having also analysed and evaluated key sources thoroughly.


D- - D+ For the award of credit, students should demonstrate a satisfactory comprehension of the various topics studied, with some understanding of the correlations and interrelations highlighted.


C- - B+: For the award of higher grades, students should demonstrate a solid comprehension of the various topics studied, with clear understanding of the correlations and interrelations highlighted, having also analysed and evaluated key sources.

Learning outcomes

  1. To explore the relationship between ideology and the construction of the urban space.

  2. To develop a critical approach to a range of visual artefacts and performances.

  3. To become aware of how key historical processes have influenced the development of the urban environment and its cultural representation.

  4. To develop a good knowledge of the cultural history of the city with particular focus on the 20th and 21st centuries.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY 2000 word essay 50
EXAM Examination 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


2 x 1-hour lectures to cover main weekly contents, analysis of texts and critical discussion for 11 weeks

Private study 176

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • The ability to critically understand, analyse and interpret the main events shaping Spanish history and culture (benchmark statement 5.7, 5.10 and 5.11)
  • The ability to critically understand Spanish and Hispanic culture and its relationship to other cultures. (Benchmark statement 5.7)
  • The ability to analyse Spanish-language texts (incl. films, visual materials and ideas) and place them in a wider historical-political and socio-cultural context. (Benchmark statement 5.4, 5.7, and 5.11)
  • The ability to analyse, interpret and historically contextualise a range of Spanish, Galician and Catalan films using different forms of critical analysis (cultural, historical, socio-political and literary). (Benchmark statement 5.7, 5.10 and 5.14)
  • The ability to analyse, interpret and contextualise fiction, art objects, performance and architecture from Catalan culture (Benchmark statement 5.7 and 5.10)
  • 11, The ability to analyse key cinematic techniques and to provide a critical evaluation of cinematic imagery and language in Catalan cinema (Benchmark statements 5.7, 5.10)


Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: