Barcelona and Havana: Icon, Myth and History - LS580

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 6 15 (7.5) DR W Rowlandson checkmark-circle


This module focuses on the cultural history of Barcelona and Havana the iconic capitals of Catalonia and Cuba. Many of the key events and movements of the past century are intimately linked to these two cities, from the collapse of the Spanish Empire and the birth of the new the Latin-American republics, the emergence of nationalism, the development of alternative modes of self-government and their engagement with modernity. Changes and continuities in the political, social and physical topography of Barcelona and Havana will be traced by studying representations of both cities in a range of texts and films from the mid twentieth to the early twenty-first century. Alongside feature films and prose genres such as short stories and reportage, the module will also consider theoretical texts on the city and the contribution of urban life to modern Hispanic culture. Central themes are the interplay of the individual and the collective, urban anonymity and liberation versus alienation and uniformity, multiculturalism and migration.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20.

Method of assessment

This module will be assessed by 100% coursework.

The exact subject of the essay will be determined by the students themselves in consultation with the module leader who will ensure the essay questions are appropriate for Level 6 students.

Questions for Level 6 students will be on more challenging topics and/or require them to make explicit and sustained reference to sources appropriate to study at a higher level.

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Greene, Graham. (1958) Our Man in Havana.
Gutiérrez Alea, Tomás. (1966) Muerte de un Burócrata, (Film).
Guerín, José Luis. (2001)The Construction (En construcción), (Film).
Obejas, Achy. (2007) Havana Noir.
Ospina, Carmen & López, Adriana. (2011) Barcelona Noir.
Padura, Leonardo. (2005) Adiós Hemingway.
Pérez, Fernando. (2003) Suite Habana, (Film).
Pons, Ventura. (2007) Barcelona (a map) (Barcelona un mapa), (Film).
Rodoreda, Mercè. (1962) Time of the Doves / In Diamond Square (La plaça del Diamant).
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos. (2002) The Shadow of the Wind (L'ombra del vent).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a detailed and critical knowledge and understanding of 20th and 21st century recent cultural and political history of two major Hispanic cities, Barcelona and Havana.

2. Demonstrate competence in applying this knowledge within new and differing contexts (e.g. as regards the city as a lieu de mémoire and the relationship between representations of the city to current debates about multiculturalism, migration and national identity).

3. Show detailed knowledge of selected twentieth-century prose works and films that represent the city and city life in Barcelona and Havana.

4. Show critical understanding of the ways in which urban development and theories of urbanity have contributed to modern Hispanic culture, in particular to literature and film.

5. Demonstrate close reading and analytical skills, including the application of critical thinking to the study of literature and film.

6. Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the relation between literary and cinematic representation and changing socio-historical conditions.

7. Carry out and display understanding of additional research and critical thinking in both written assessments and seminar topics that show an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge.

8. Demonstrate independent learning skills by being able to make use of a wide range of high-level resources, including up-to-date research in peer-reviewed journals, information technology, relevant subject bibliographies and other primary and secondary sources.

9. Demonstrate a comprehensive appreciation of key aspects of current critical approaches and theories on representations of the city and the ability to comment upon these approaches as well as to understand the specific cultural, historical and political contexts from which they emerge.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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