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Research project

The Novelized Memory: the Contribution of Literature to the Construction of Cultural Identities in Spain

The collective research project entitled The Novelized Memory is dedicated to the investigation of the contemporary Spanish novel on the civil war and Franco era. During the last decade, Spain has witnessed a significant increase in the publication of novels concerned with the memory of the civil war and the post-war era. The project aims to analyze the characteristics of the novelized discourse and investigate the sociocultural implications of this tendency. Cultural memories contribute in a fundamental way to the negotiation of cultural identities, and hence the specific characteristics of the literary discourse must be examined in the context of the dialogue that it generates with other social discourses. In a European context, the 20th century history of Spain constitutes a paradigmatic example of relevance, given that the country experienced a civil war motivated by opposing ideologies, followed by 39 years of dictatorship and repression.


The project has received funding from the Danish Council for Independent Research, the Humanities (FKK), for the period 2011-2013.


Hans Lauge Hansen examines how the contemporary Spanish novel dedicated to the re-memorization of the Spanish civil war and the post-war period, characterized by fierce repression and political cleansing, functions as a vehicle of intergenerational, affiliative postmemory. The project discusses the role of literary novelistic discourse in its dialogue with other social discourses, and examines the mutual influences between a social movement and artistic discourse. With its focus on the question of narrative form, schematic templates and the most important stylistic traits, the goal of the project is to describe the novels published during the last decade, the central subject of which is the description of the civil war and the post-war era, as a significant new trend in Spanish literary history. In this way, the project engages in an interdisciplinary field of investigation between literary history and cultural memory studies.


Ana Bundgaard: Based on Roman Ingarden’s description of the aesthetic experience, the project will focus on how the hybrid structure of the text is connected to and will affect the function of reading. In this way, the project aims to describe how literary texts contribute to the reconstruction of what is called the collective memory while at the same time remaining critical of the very notion of collective memory.    


Juan Carlos Cruz Suárez approaches the dialogism and interdiscursivity in the contemporary Spanish novel from a rhetorical and stylistic perspective, bringing into focus those authors born during the last years of Francoism and the beginning of democratic Spain. At the same time, the project will concern the analysis of a large group of authors who consciously refuse any literary approximation to the subject of memory.


Diana González Martín explores the aesthetic and ethical expression of remembrance processes in contemporary artworks and artistic events (literature, painting and theater). One of the main questions in this research project is how contemporary art, in order to reflect these processes of remembrance, makes use of the fragmentation of temporalities, leading to an expression of time where past, present and future merge together in what could be called a "full temporality".


Palle Nørgaard analyzes the interaction between fiction and non-fiction in the contemporary Spanish novel, drawing upon genres and critical practice from the field of life writing. This perspective will accentuate how real-world interactions in both form and content of literary fiction open up an approach to the new Spanish novel and its role in the public process of commemoration in Spain. Accordingly, the project draws upon both literary criticism and cultural memory studies.


Lasse-Emil Paulsen will study the literary work of Antonio Muñoz Molina, viewing it as a contribution to the cultural memory of the Spanish Civil War and the Francoism. The project aims to show that the work of Muñoz Molina not only represents a paradigm shift in the form of narration in the contemporary Spanish novel after the millennium, but can in fact be seen as cutting edge in Spain’s literary landscape.


Finally, the project aims to generate an international research network concerning the subject of novel and memory. To this end, we have already established collaboration with the Seminario de Discurso Legitimación y Memoria of the University of Salamanca, as well as with other experts on the subject based at different European universities.


Funding of the research project

The research project is fully funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research, the Humanities (Forskningsrådet for Kultur og Kommunikation, FKK), with the total amount of seven million Danish kroner. As mentioned earlier, the funding covers two postdocs and a PhD scholar, among other costs of the project.

The collaboration of Ingrid Lindström Leo is being facilitated courtesy of Mid Sweden University.

Antonio Alías’s contribution is being financed by the Formación del Profesorado Universitario (FPU) programme under the Spanish Ministry of Education.   


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Revised 12.05.2014