Spanish 326

SPAN 326: Contemporary Spanish Culture

Prerequisite: Spanish 202 or four years of high school Spanish

Credit Hours: (3)

A topical examination of Spain in the late twentieth century, including recent history, political, economic and social problems, and the arts. Taught in Spanish. General Education credit – International and Intercultural Studies


Detailed Description of Content of Course

SPAN 326 offers a historical panorama of the culture of contemporary Spain. Lectures and activities are arranged according to different aspects of culture, the individual and the family, the social sphere, the fine, applied and performing arts, the role of religion, the historical and political situation. Special emphasis is given to the study of cultural aspects of modern Spain.


I. Contemporary Spain--Recent history

            A. The dictatorship of Generalísimo Francisco Franco
            B. The post-Franco era--restoration of the monarchy and transition to democracy
            C. The test of Spanish democracy

II. Politics in Spain

            A. The constitutional monarchy--the reign of Juan Carlos I
            B. The 1978 Constitution--an effort to resolve the traditional conflict of centralization versus the independence of the traditional regional kingdoms--the comunidades autónomas
            C. Present organization of the government

                            1. The role of the Cortes
                            2. The judiciary
                            3. Regional and local governments

            D. Dominant political parties

                            1. UCD Unión de Centro Democrático ( Union of the Democratic Center)
                            2. Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Socialist Party of the Spanish Worker)
                            3. Partido Popular (People's Party)
                            4. Other parties and the formation of coalitions

            E. Terrorism and the ETA (Basque separatist movement)

III. Spain and the rest of the world

            A. Obstacles and difficulties in Spain's integration into the European Union
            B. Relations with NATO and the US
            C. Latin America and in particular the case of Cuba

IV. Economic problems

             A. The role of the government
             B. The unemployment problem and the underground economy
             C. Agriculture

V. The educational system

            A. Primary and secondary schools
            B. Post secondary education

VI. The arts

            A. Painters--particularly Picasso, Dalí and Miró
            B. Architects
            C. Film makers--Carlos Saura, Fernando Colomo and Pedro Almodóvar

VII. Reading the leading newspapers

            A. Representing the conservatives-- ABC
            B. Representing the centrist position-- El País
            C. Representing the liberals-- Cambio 16


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The first five weeks of the course will be devoted to lectures and presentations concerning recent history, politics, and social and economic problems. The second third of the course will be devoted to student presentations concerning painters, architects and filmmakers. The final third of the course will be based on reading stories from Spanish newspapers: ABC, El País, and Cambio 16. Students will form teams to follow particular topics: economic news, stories about current social problems, the arts, and political news. Video materials will be used in class assignments both in the classroom and in the Foreign Language Media Center. Students will also be required to conduct research exercises using, World Wide Web electronic resources, such as,, www.elpaí, and other links related to Spanish culture.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

The primary goal of SPAN 326 is to enable students to learn about Spanish culture and discuss its ramifications and interconnections with other disciplines in an informed and critical manner. This course also improves their Spanish in the four basic categories of language-acquisition skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking).

By the end of the semester, the student should be able to do the following in Spanish:

  • Demonstrate a basic knowledge of the recent history and governmental, political, and economic structure of the country.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the current social, economic, and political problems of Spain.
  • Make an oral presentation in Spanish concerning one of the course topics.
  • Read and discuss an article from one of the leading newspapers concerning contemporary issues in Spain.

Broad General Education Goals. Students will be able to:

*think critically and creativelyabout ideas, issues, problems, and texts both within and across academic disciplines

SPAN 326 students will acquire social, economic, or political knowledge about issues of current importance in the target cultures and be able to discuss these issues on an intermediate-high to advanced level.

*employ a variety of research methods and styles of inquiry

Students will learn to solve problems; gather and organize information; and communicate persuasive opinions about these cultures by means of a variety of audio, video, library and on-line assignments. SPAN 326 students will be required to use appropriate computer technologies and selected databases to answer questions about events and issues of the period or area being studied.

*work with others in a shared process of inquiry and problem-solving

Students will practice Spanish and communicate about contemporary Spanish culture with each other in small groups and with at least one native speaker.

*identify the cultural values that shape decision in public, professional, and private life

As a result of all these intercultural encounters, students will be able to understand how different cultural values affect perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors that they would tend to take for granted and not analyze so critically in a monocultural environment.

Area 5 Goals. Students will be able to:

*demonstrate an understanding of the central place of language in shaping thinking, values, and other aspects of culture

SPAN 326 students will, in learning another language system and its cultural centeredness, understand the interrelatedness of language and culture in the perception and values of other cultures.

*demonstrate an awareness of the diversity of cultures beyond the United States and analyze similarities and differences between their own and other cultures that affect perceptions, beliefs and behaviors

SPAN 326 students will be able to analyze a number of cultural similarities and differences between the United States and Spain. These comparisons students make between their own system of values and other cultures will help them realize how diverse cultures can be.

*identify and discuss important global issues that highlight the relationships among peoples and nations

Students will, in class lectures, films, and conversations, acquire knowledge about recent historical and current global issues that are in the news and that are having, or have had, a significant social, economic, or political impact.


Assessment Measures

Evaluation is based on participation in team reports and other classroom activities involving assigned readings, films, assignments outside of the class period (research exercises and short term papers reporting on analyses of additional readings), quizzes, two one-hour exams, and a final examination.


Other Course Information

To supplement linguistic and cultural encounters in class, SPAN 326 students are expected to participate in some extracurricular activities such as conversation with native speakers, watching Spanish movies, and inquiring about new issues or developments in the Spanish-speaking cultures. Students are expected to read foreign newspapers in the library and online. The Foreign Language Department’s web page contains links to newspapers from several Spanish-speaking countries.

Foreign Language majors with an option in Spanish are required to include 24 hours above the intermediate level. Spanish 326 fulfills part of this requirement for majors and also for minors.


Approval and Subsequent Reviews

Date Action Reviewed by
September 2005 Reviewed Philip Sweet