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Level 5

5AASB097 Modernism: Outside In


Credit value: 15 credits

Module tutorsDr Federico BonaddioDr Felipe CorreaDr Luis Rebaza Soraluz, Dr Catarina Fouto

Assessment: one piece of creative writing (poem, short story), artwork, photograph or composition on the subject of modernity, accompanied by a commentary (no more than 500 words) on its main features (15%); one short study (1000 words) of an art object (e.g. poem, painting, photograph, film)
(15% ); one 2000 word final coursework essay (70%)
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2 hours classes (combination of lecture and seminar)

Reassessment: Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt

This module is available to students without knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese. Lectures, seminars and readings are all in English.

Accounts of modernism in English often exclude, or at best relegate to a footnote, key exponents of modernism from the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds. Yet writers and artists from Spain, Portugal or Latin America experienced modernity just as acutely as their counterparts in, for example, the US, England, France or Germany. Indeed, their work offers invaluable perspectives on modernity, not least because of the marginal status conferred upon them and their local realities by dominant myths around the origins and character of the modern world.

This module, then, redresses a fundamental imbalance and demonstrates how those who are marked as peripheral actually have something central to say about modern experience. In so doing, it challenges cultural biases and stereotypes and provides a broader understanding of how modernity has been configured in modernism.

The module will centre on case studies selected from across Spain, Portugal, Spanish America and Brazil, and a variety of forms of production, such as literature, art, music, architecture, photography, film and non-canonical visual genres (e.g. illustrated postcards). Themes studied will include any of the following, in a variety of combinations: centre and periphery; politics of art; art for art's sake; manifestos and propaganda; avant-garde; religion, tradition and progress; technology, science and speed; urban and rural; aestheticism and dehumanization; gender and sexuality; psyche and the unconscious; reality and surreality; the popular, folklore, and indigeneity; identity, nationalisms and self-reflexivity.

Educational aims and objectives

This module aims to expose students to a variety of aesthetic and critical responses to modernity from outside the dominant canon of European and American modernism, thereby broadening their knowledge and understanding of modernism while interrogating common notions of centre and periphery. It will have students engage with the notion of modernity in both personal and more objectively scholarly terms. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practical skills appropriate to a Level 5 module and in particular will be able to:

  1. identify key features of modernism from the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds, and have detailed knowledge of its ideas, contexts and frameworks;
  2. analyse and manipulate a conceptual framework for describing modernism and modernist production in this context, with limited guidance;
  3. compare and contrast key examples from inside this context;
  4. situate modernism from the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds within broader social, political and cultural contexts;
  5. effectively discuss, examine, and respond to debates surrounding modernism, in written work and class discussions, individually and collectively;
  6. engage critically and creatively with modernism and notions of modernity, and begin to develop appropriate autonomous research strategies in order to plan and complete the module assessment.

Core texts


  • Federico García Lorca, Poet in New York, ed. and intro. by Christopher Maurer; trans. by Greg Simon and Steve F. White (Penguin Modern Classics or other edition)
  • Film - Un Chien andalou (1929), dir. Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí (Students are not expected to buy the film, although they may if they want to. There will be a film screening and copies are available in the library.)


  • Mário de Sá-Carneiro, Lúcio’s Confession, trans. by Margaret Jull Costa (Sawtry: Dedalus, 1993)
  • Mário de Sá-Carneiro, ‘Myself – The Other’, The great shadow: and other stories, trans. by Margaret Jull Costa (Sawtry: Dedalus, 1996)
  • Steffen Dix and Jerónimo Pizarro, Portuguese Modernisms: Multiple Perspectives on Literature and the Visual Arts (London: Legenda, 2011)

Spanish America:

  • Carlos Oquendo de Amat, 5 Meters of Poems, Spanish-English Bilingual Edition, trans. by Joshua Beckman and Alejandro de Acosta (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010)


  • Oswald de Andrade, Cannibalist Manifesto, trans. by Leslie Bary,  in Latin American Literary Review, Vol. 19, No. 38, 1991), pp. 38-47
  • Eduardo de Faria Coutinho, ‘Brazilian Modernism’, in Astradur Eysteinsson and Vivian Liska(eds), A Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages. Volume XXI Modernism (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2007), pp. 759-768
  • Sarah Hamilton-Tyrrell, ‘Mário de Andrade, Mentor: Modernism and Musical Aesthetics in Brazil, 1920–1945’, The Musical Quarterly, vol. 88, n. 1,spring 2005, pp. 7-34

Students are expected to purchase their own copies of the following books

  • Federico García Lorca, Poet in New York, ed. and intro. by Christopher Maurer; trans. by Greg Simon and Steve F. White (Penguin Modern Classics or other edition)
  • Carlos Oquendo de Amat, 5 Meters of Poems, Spanish-English Bilingual Edition, trans. by Joshua Beckman and Alejandro de Acosta (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010).

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.


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