This course is a survey of the avant-garde artistic movement in Spain, ranging from Pablo Picasso’s Las señoritas de la calle Avignon (1907) to the first appearance of Guernica (1937) in the international exhibition in Paris (1937). These two works by Picasso are used as an example of the increasing politicization of the -ismos (cubism, ultraism, surrealism), an artistic reaction to an on-going socio-political tension in Spain and abroad. We will explore the work of some well-known authors of the Spanish avant-garde (Dali, Buñuel, Lorca) alongside less famous, but still critical, figures of the period (Lucía Sánchez-Saornil, Helios Gómez, Josep Renau).
To this end, we will divide the course into two parts: In the first, we will go over a wide array of theoretical texts related to the avant-garde studies field (W. Benjamin, Ortega y Gasset, P. Burger, E. Subirats). In the second part, building on those theories, we will examine a diverse range of cultural products of the period −novels, poems, films, paintings, plays, and photomontage. The emphasis of the class will be on student-generated discussion and critical thinking about these texts, combined with continual practice in all four major areas of language (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). Transformative avant-garde content and transformative learning will go hand and hand.