CMS 320 C: Cinema and Nation

Spring 2024
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm / DEN 159
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
SPAN 335 A
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

SPAN 335A/CMS 320C: The Cinema of Barcelona, Inside and Out

SPAN 335A/CMS 320A: The Cinema of Barcelona, Inside and Out


Class: Tuesdays and Thursdays in DENNY 159, 12:30-2:20.

Professor Mercer

Office: Padelford B219

Office Hours: Tuesdays 4-4:50 (in person) and Thursdays 11:00-11:50 (on Zoom).

Zoom Link:




Course Materials:


***All films are available to stream on our course Canvas website, under “Pages”, then “Films”, unless you see a URL provided below***


  • El hotel eléctrico (The Electric Hotel); Segundo de Chomón (1908)


  • Barcelona en tranvía (Barcelona by Trolley); Ricardo de Baños (1908):
  • Barcelona 1970; tourist promotional film by the Barcelona Ajuntament (City Hall/ Mayor’s Office)


  • Ocaña; Ventura Pons (1978)
  • Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother); Pedro Almodóvar (1999)
  • Alcaldessa (Ada for Mayor); Pau Faus (2016)


  • L’Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment); Cédric Klapisch (2002)
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Woody Allen (2008)


  • Bye Bye Barcelona; Eduardo Chibás (2014)
  • Biutiful; Alejandro González Iñárritu (2010)
  • Los últimos días (The Last Days); Alex Pastor y David Pastor (2013)
  • Els dies que vindran (The Days to Come); Carlos Marques Marcet (2019)
  • Chavalas; Carol Rodríguez Colás (2021)



All critical readings can be found on our Canvas course page under “Files” unless a web address is provided in the Course Outline.


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, a site of awe, revolution, crisis, and absence, and even a touristic product. TAUGHT IN ENGLISH


  • 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 choose 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. If you are unfamiliar with MLA style, you can find more information here:
  • Please note that students who are taking the class for Spanish credit may write their papers in Spanish. On our Canvas site, under “Files,” I have included a bilingual glossary of cinema terms to aid you.
  • To broaden class discussion and support student learning, 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. Thus, these elements should not be the focus of presentations. Groups of 3-4 students will present for 20-25 minutes (PLEASE KEEP TO THIS TIME LIMIT). One student must focus on summarizing and analyzing the assigned critical readings for the day. Other students should each choose a brief scene to analyze in depth with the class, communicating your scene timestamp to Prof. Mercer via email, at least 24 hours before class. Your scene analysis may focus on: national or gender representation, mise-en-scène, cinematography, sound, editing, narrative, style, authorship, genre, or the representation of Barcelona broadly. Students will be graded individually on their preparedness and ability to facilitate class discussion. As much as possible, students should make their presentations interactive. Ask questions of your classmates! Dialogue with them!
  • It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please activate your accommodations via myDRS so we can discuss how they will be implemented in this course. If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), contact DRS directly to set up an Access Plan. DRS facilitates the interactive process that establishes reasonable accommodations. Contact DRS at
  • Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.
  • If you are feeling sick, please stay home and take care of yourself. There is no need to email me unless this affects your presentation or an exam deadline. You can make up participation points lost for up to 2 missed classes. Simply email me a paragraph of reaction to that day’s film and/or reading within 2 days of missing class.
  • No late papers will be accepted, unless you provide a written medical excuse.





            First paper: 25%

            Second paper: 40%

            Presentation: 20%

Participation in class discussion: 15%


Course outline:



March 26:                             Introduction to the course

                                                Foundational cinema of Barcelona

                                                Read: “Film Studies Basics”

                                                Screen: Barcelona by Trolley (Barcelona en tranvía) and The Electric Hotel (El hotel eléctrico).


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


March 28:                             Foundational cinema of Barcelona

Explore: Barcelona Tourism Office Website, especially “Practical Guide, “What to Visit” and “Things to Do”:

Spend Some Time (Virtually) Walking Around the City:


                                                Screen: Barcelona 1970

                                                Presentation sign-up


April 2:                                   Barcelona as site of liberation and rebirth

Screen: Ocaña     


April 4:                       Barcelona as site of liberation and rebirth

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

                                    Presentation (3):


April 9:                       Barcelona as site of liberation and rebirth

Screen: All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre)


April 11:                    Barcelona as site of liberation and rebirth

Read: “Cinematic Barcelona” and “The Body and Spain”

                                    Presentation (4):    


April 16:                    Barcelona as site of liberation and rebirth

                                    Screen: Alcaldessa (Ada for Mayor)


April 18:                    Read: “Post-Crisis, Post-Feminist” and

Presentation (3):


April 23:                    Barcelona, global playground

Screen: The Spanish Apartment (L’Auberge Espagnole)


April 25:                    Barcelona, global playground

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

Presentation (4):


April 30:                    Barcelona, global playground

                                    Screen: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Read: “Catalan Beauty and the Transnational Beast”

First Paper Topics Handed Out


May 2:                       No regular class! Optional consultations on first paper with Professor Mercer via Zoom. Please come to the Zoom waiting room and wait your turn.


May 7:                       Peripheral Barcelona, Barcelona in crisis

Screen in class: Bye Bye Barcelona

***Turn in first paper at beginning of class***


May 9:                       Peripheral Barcelona, Barcelona in crisis

                                    Screen: Biutiful

Read: “A Biutiful City”

Presentation (4):


May 14:                                 Peripheral Barcelona, Barcelona in crisis

            Screen: The Last Days (Los últimos días)



May 16:                                 Peripheral Barcelona, Barcelona in crisis

Read: “Prime Risks”

Presentation (3):





May 21:                     Peripheral Barcelona, Barcelona in crisis

                                    Screen: The Days to Come (Els dies que vindran)


May 23:                                 Peripheral Barcelona, Barcelona in crisis


Presentation (3):


May 28:                     Screen: Chavalas


Second Paper Topics Handed Out


May 30:                                 No regular class! Optional consultations on second paper with Professor Mercer via Zoom. Please come to the Zoom waiting room and wait your turn.


June 4:                                  *** Turn in Second Paper via email ( by 4 pm***    

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. Offered: AWSpS.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
April 9, 2024 - 12:35 pm