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CMS 320 B: Cinema And Nation

Barcelona, Inside and Out!

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:30am - 1:20pm
DEN 159
Joint Sections: 
SPAN 335 A
Leigh Mercer

Syllabus Description:

SPAN 335: The Cinema of Barcelona, Inside and Out


Class: Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:30-1:20 in DEN 159.

Professor Mercer

Office: Padelford B219

Office Hours: Thursdays 1:40-3:00 and by appointment

Telephone: 543-2059



Course Materials:


***All films are available to stream on our course Canvas website, unless otherwise noted***

Click here: Film Page


  • El hotel eléctrico (The Electric Hotel); Segundo de Chomón (1905?)
  • Barcelona en tranvía (Barcelona by Trolley); Ricardo de Baños (1908):
  • Ocaña; Ventura Pons (1978)
  • Barcelona; Whit Stillman (1994)
  • Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother); Pedro Almodóvar (1999)
  • L’Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment); Cédric Klapisch (2002)
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Woody Allen (2008)
  • Biutiful; Alejandro González Iñárritu (2010)
  • Los últimos días (The Last Days); Alex Pastor y David Pastor (2013)
  • 10000 Km; Carlos Marques Marcet (2014)


All critical readings can be found on our Canvas course page under “Files.”


Goals of the Course and Requirements:


This course will examine cinematic representations of Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city or the capital of a culturally independent Catalonia, depending on one’s perspective. We will focus on the internal view of the city as well as the external view, from the silent era to the present, screening and critiquing films produced by Catalans, Spaniards, and filmmakers from the U.S, Mexico, France and beyond. Our goal will be to determine the ways in which cinema has contributed to making this city a consumable good, as a site of awe, revolution, crisis, and absence, and even as a touristic product.

  • Class attendance is essential, because your active participation is required for this course to function properly. Students should come to class having screened the assigned films and with the readings prepared, ready to participate in discussion. Your regular attendance and involvement in both group and whole-class discussions will form the basis of your participation grade.
  • There will be two papers assigned during the quarter, the first 3 pages long and the second 5 pages long. Students will chose from several paper topics which will be distributed one week in advance of the paper due date. Students must use MLA Handbook style for citations.
  • To broaden class discussion and the support the pedagogical formation of students, each student will participate in a group presentation on one of the films under study. Presentations will take place after a short break and at the end of our class time, so presenters should be aware that a great deal of general discussion will have already taken place about the film’s director, plot, characters, and general themes. Groups of 2-3 students will present for 20-25 minutes, summarizing any assigned critical readings for the day, and presenting on one or more of the following topics as relates to the film that week: national or gender representation, mise-en-scène, cinematography, sound, editing, narrative, style, authorship and genre. Students will be graded individually on their preparedness and ability to facilitate class discussion. As much as possible, students should make their presentations interactive.
  • All films are available for screening on our Canvas website unless I have cited a URL where they can be found online.
  • So that accommodations can be made, please let me know as soon as possible if you have a physical or learning disability that you believe may affect your performance in this class.
  • No late papers will be accepted, unless you provide a medical excuse.




            First paper: 30%

            Second paper: 35%

            Presentation: 20%

Participation in class discussion: 15%



Course outline:



January 3:                            Introduction to the course. Barcelona as touchstone.   

                                                Screen: Barcelona by Trolley and The Electric Hotel

                                                Read: “Film Studies Basics”

                                                Recommended reading if you don’t know much about the history of Barcelona: “The Color of a Dog Running Away”


January 5:                            NO CLASS! Prof. Mercer is at the MLA. Advance in your reading and film screening.


January 10:              Screen: Ocaña


January 12:              Read: “Barcelona: The Siege City,” Bob Davidson and “Catalan Cinema: An Uncanny Transnational Performance,”



January 17:              Screen: Barcelona           


January 19:              Read: “Reviews-Barcelona”



January 24:              Screen: All About My Mother


January 26:              Read: “Cinematic Barcelona”



January 31:              Screen: The Spanish Apartment

                                    Pick up first paper topics.

                                    Read: “Ni Pour Ni Contre” (Read Introduction and part on L’Auberge Espagnole)



February 2:              Consultations on First Paper with Professor Mercer in Padelford B-219.           


February 7:              Screen: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Turn in first paper


February 9:              Read: “Catalan Beauty and the Transnational Beast”



February 14:                        Screen: Biutiful


February 16:            Read:
and “A Biutiful City”



February 21:                        Screen: 10.000km


February 23:            Read: “Screenings” and!film/directors-statement/



February 28:            Screen: The Last Days


March 2:                   Presentation:                      


March 7:                               Screen: Bye Bye Barcelona


Pick up second paper topics.


March 9:                               Consultations on second paper with Professor Mercer in Padelford B-219.


***March 14***                    Turn in second paper to PADELFORD B219 (under the door) by 12pm 

Additional Details:


Catalog Description: 
Examines the cinema of a particular national, ethnic or cultural group, with films typically shown in the original language with subtitles. Topics reflect themes and trends in the national cinema being studied.
Department Requirements Met: 
Literature Core
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 4, 2017 - 9:03pm