Course Description

Course Name

Spanish Culture and Civilization

Session: VSVS1121

Hours & Credits

45 Contact Hours

Prerequisites & Language Level

Note: A placement exam will be required when you arrive on site.


  • Prior to enrolling in courses at this language level, students must have completed or tested out of a minimum of four semesters (or six quarters) at the college level.


Level: An advanced level of Spanish is required.

Course Description: The objective of this course is for the student to become familiar with contemporary Spanish culture taking the various political, economic and social crosscurrents into account that have contributed to its development throughout the twentieth century. This course requires that students complete various workshops and activities with practical application intended to broaden their understanding of the cultural panorama of contemporary Spanish society.

Course Contents:

UNITS 1 ?Everyday Life: What Distinguishes Spanish Culture
Overview of the customs and daily habits. Comparing cultures. Shopping and scheduling: Open-air markets and flea markets (?rastros?). Galician way of life. Gastronomical heritage and development of Basque cuisine and of Ferra Adriá. Relgion?s place in Spanish life. Heritage of Camarón: Mercé, Pastori y los Morente. Flamenco culture.
Workshops and activities: Sampling Flamenco music / analysis typical recipes.

UNIT 2 ? Profile of Modern Spain
Introduction to contemporary Spain. Analysis of political-administrative systems. Geography and regional variation. Spanish nationalisms. Linguistic plurality. Celebrations and festivals. Religions. Economy and industry. Educational system. Importance of family.

UNIT 3 ? The Formation of a Nation: Spain?s Three Cultures
Considering various aspects of the formation of Spain. Sevilla and its history.
Activity: Class fieldtrip exploring the heritage of three religions in Sevilla.

UNIT 4 ? From Civil War and Franco?s Dictatorship to Democracy: Spain and its Autonomous Communities (?la España de las autonomías?)
Fratricidal civil war gave way to dictatorship that in total would last almost forty years. Franco?s death and the changes brought by democracy. Development of the State of the Autonomies (?Estado de las Autonomías?). Constructing a modern Spain: The madrileña movement, incorporation into Europe, the 1992 Olympics, the Sevilla World Expo and the characteristics of a postindustrial society.
Workshop and activities: Videos about the transition to democracy / classroom analysis and discussion of music from the transition and the movement.
Watch: Eres mi héroe by Antonio Cuadri.

UNIT 5 ? Consolidation of a Foreign Policy: Europe, Spain and Latin America
Accession into European Union marks a political, educational, social and ? above all ? economic renaissance. The initial goals of accession were transformed into benefits that greatly enriched all aspects of Spanish society. Maintaining close ties to other Spanish-speaking countries abroad, often acting as an intermediary between Latin America and the EU.
Workshops and Activities: Analysis of polling data/studying Spanish perceptions of the EU.

UNIT 6 ? Stability and Economic Growth: Immigration and the Search for a Future
Rapid economic growth and political stability during the 1990s sees Spain transformed into a destination country for immigrants worldwide. Spain as a bridge to the rest of Europe. Spain as a draw to immigrants with shared linguistics and cultural traits.
Workshops and Activities: Analysis of maps showing the distribution of immigrant communities in Spain.

UNIT 7 ? Art and the Culture in the 21st Century
Understanding the artistic and literary trends of recent years. From the architectural contributions of Moneo and Calatrava, to the films of Amenábar and Almodóvar and the heritage left by the great painters of the 20th century.


Classroom participation: 10%
Homework: 20%
Mid-term exam: 25%
Final exam: 35%
Final research paper: 10%

Attendance: Class attendance is mandatory and no more than four absences will be permitted. In cases where an absence is the result of medical causes, it will be necessary to submit a photocopy of a note written by a health care professional. Tardiness will be counted as half an absence.

Classroom Behavior: Students are expected to participate in classroom activities and to maintain a respectful attitude. Eating and the use of a personal laptop are prohibited (unless explicitly authorized by instructor).

*Course content subject to change