Fiercely Human. Cultural Studies about the 40's

May 10 - June 14, 2016 - 7 p.m
Free ticket
Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200

Ongoing recognition of credits with the Complutense, Carlos III and Autónoma Universities of Madrid.

Organized by
Museo Reina Sofía

The period of autocracy in Spain presents itself as an abominable decade characterised by the triumphant Francoist aesthetic and ideology on all fronts. This series of lectures, in conjunction with the exhibition Campo Cerrado. Spanish Art 1939–1953, debates and calls into question this acknowledgement through the views of six historians and theorists hailing from different fields of study and different generations. The multi-faceted approach to a contradictory and tumultuous time enables the recovery and analysis of silent formations of cultural dissidence, the reality of external and internal exile, popular forms as a space of play and transgression, the notion of sacrifice in painting, and the persisting nostalgia and wounds in literary texts. The title of the series borrows its name from Fiercely Human Angel, Blas de Otero’s book of poems, which, along with Children of Wrath by Dámaso Alonso, characterises this decade as a period of survival and rawness in equal measure.

The series’ full programme will be presented in the coming days.


Mari Paz Balibrea is a professor of cultural studies in the Department of Cultures and Languages Birkbeck at the University of London. Her publications include En la tierra baldía. Manuel Vázquez Montalbán y la izquierda española en la postmodernidad (El Viejo Topo, 1999) and Tiempo de exilio. Una mirada crítica a la modernidad española desde el pensamiento republicano en el exilio (Montesinos, 2007). She is the coordinator, co-editor and co-author of the project Líneas de fuga. Hacia otra historiografía del exilio cultural republicano español (Akal, 2017), and is currently co-editing the collective book María Zambrano Amongst the Philosophers: A Reconsideration.

Laurence Bertrand-Dorleac is a professor of art history at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po). She is also the author of publications such as Histoire de l’art. Paris 1940-1944 (Publications de la Sorbonne, 1986), Art of the Defeat. France 1940–1944 (Getty Research Institute, 2008), L'ordre sauvage. Violence, dépense et sacré dans l'art des années 1950-1960 (Gallimard, 2004) and Après la guerre (Gallimard, 2010), among others. Furthermore, she has jointly curated the exhibition L’art en guerre, France 1938-1947 (Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2012 and Guggenheim de Bilbao, 2013) and curated Les désastres de la guerre. 1800-2014 (Louvre-Lens, 2014).

Jordi Gracia is a professor of Spanish literature at the University of Barcelona. His publications include Estado y cultura. El despertar de una conciencia crítica (Anagrama, 1996), La resistencia silenciosa (Anagrama, 2004) and A la intemperie. Exilio y cultura en España (Anagrama, 2010). He is also the author of La vida rescatada de Dionisio Ridruejo (Anagrama, 2008) and co-author, together with Domingo Ródenas, of the literary history Derrota y restitución de la modernidad: 1939-2010 (Crítica, 2011). His latest book is the cultural biography José Ortega y Gasset (Taurus, 2014).

Jo Labanyi is a professor of Spanish literature and culture at New York University. She is a specialist in cultural studies and cultural history in modern Spain, and her recent publications are made up of Spanish Literature (Oxford University Press, 2010) and A Companion to Spanish Cinema (Blackwell, 2015), edited alongside Tatjana Pavlovic. Furthermore, she is co-author of A Cultural History of Modern Spanish Literature and Cinema and the Mediation of Everyday Life in 1940s and 1950s Spain: An Oral History (both books are forthcoming), and she is writing a monographic study on Spanish cinema between the years 1939 and 1953, provisionally entitled Reading Cinema under Dictatorship. She is also the founder and director of the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies.

Germán Labrador Méndez is a professor of literature and cultural history at the University of Princeton. He has written two books on the study of counterculture movements and activism in 1970s literature, entitled Letras arrebatadas, Poesía y química en la transición española (Devenir, 2009) and Culpables por la literatura. Imaginación política y contracultura en la transición española (1968-1984) [forthcoming]. At the present time he is conducting investigations into the ephemeral productions and forms of political resistance that have recently taken place in Spain, in a project provisionally entitled Luces efímeras. La lógica cultural de la crisis española.

Jesusa Vega is a professor of modern and contemporary art history at the Autonomous University of Madrid. She has been an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Iberian & Latin American Studies, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, and held the King Juan Carlos I Chair of Spanish Culture at New York University in 2011. She is currently lead researcher in the project La Historia del Arte en España: devenir, discursos y propuestas. In addition to visual culture from the 18th and 19th centuries, she has also written about the history and methodology of art history, most notably in the publication El descubrimiento del arte español. Cossío, Lafuente, Gaya Nuño (Novatores, 2008), together with Javier Portús, and in the articles “Del pasado al futuro de la Historia del Arte en la Universidad Española” (Ars Longa. Cuadernos de Arte, 2007) and “Points de repère pour l'histoire de l'art en Espagne” (Perspective, 2009).