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Unit information: Dictatorships, prisons, and writing(s) in the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking worlds in 2016/17

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Unit name Dictatorships, prisons, and writing(s) in the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking worlds
Unit code HISP30070
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Infante
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
Faculty Faculty of Arts




There were many dictatorships in Lusophone and Hispanophone countries during the 20th century.



The unit;

  • will look in detail at the dictatorships that came to power in Brazil (1964-85), Chile (1973-90), Portugal (1933-74), and Spain (1939-75), and texts that relate closely to these historical moments, texts whose writers were victims of the political regimes and incarcerated.
  • will study and discuss historical and cinematographic texts, which look back to these political systems, and literary texts that were written either in prison, or as memoirs of that experience, or others that mirror the political regimes of the time.
  • give students the opportunity to explore a fascinating topic: the reactions in literature to dictatorship and incarceration and how different genres approached these political issues.
  • It also brings to discussion genres that are currently less studied in HiPLA and SML, such as the diary, the memoir, and the letter.



The aim of this unit;

  • will provide students with a better understanding of the recent past of all countries studied.
  • also with the added value of the insights that students have gained during their year abroad.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to:

(a) demonstrate a high-level knowledge of four dictatorships in Portuguese and Spanish-speaking countries (Brazil, Portugal, Chile, and Spain) as appropriate at Level H.

(b) show an in-depth understanding of the social and political background of literary texts written during those dictatorships;

(c) demonstrate an advanced understanding of the social consequences of those dictatorships for the current collective memory in Brazil, Portugal, Chile, and Spain;

(d) demonstrate an academic level of the language skills in either Portuguese or Spanish (or both), so as to build solid arguments in written Portuguese and/or Spanish.

Teaching details

1weekly lecture and 1 weekly seminar

Assessment Details

1 x 3000-word essay (50%) Testing ILO's a-d

1 x 2-hour exam (50%) Testing ILO's a-d

Reading and References

Álvarez, Carlos, Escrito en las paredes; Papeles encontrados por un preso (Paris: Librairie du Globe, 1967).

Bryan, T. Avril, Censorship and Social Conflict in the Spanish Theatre: the Case of Alfonso Sastre (Washington D.C., University Press of America, 1982).

Courteau, Joanna, ‘Memórias do Cárcere: Between History and Imagination’, in Hispania, 82, 1, 1999, pp. 46-55.

Stern, Steve J., Reckoning with Pinochet: the memory question in democratic Chile (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2010).

Wener, Richard E., The Environmental Psychology of Prisons and Jails (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).