The Spanish Picaresque Novel

Module code: SP3132

Module co-ordinator: Dr Helen Rawlings

Module Aims

This module will address the Spanish literary concept of the Picaresque. With its essentially anti-humanist core, the Picaresque relies heavily on parody and presents a vibrant, if sordid, picture of the exploits of anti-heroes - rogues, vagabonds, tricksters and murderers - as they progress through life. The genre challenges’ the readers’ perception of right and wrong, good and evil.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to critically assess the protagonisation of the pícaro as a negative role model in a selection of literary texts drawn from different periods, compare and contrast fictional approaches to the theme of villainy and present informed critical evaluations of the texts in oral and written form.

Teaching and Learning Methods

The picaresque genre will be set in its context via a general introductory lecture, followed by seminar presentations and group discussions addressing particular issues relating to the texts.

Assessment pattern

  • Seminar presentation and write up of 1,500 words (15%)
  • In-class textual analysis (25%)
  • Essay, 2,500-3,000 words (60%)

Set texts

  • Fernando de Rojas, La Celestina (The Spanish Bawd)
  • Anonymous, La Vida de Lazarillo de Tormes (The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes)
  • Camilo José Cela, La Familia de Pascula Duarte (The Family of Pascual Duarte)

Key background reading

  • AA Parker, Literature and the Delinquent (1967)
  • BW Ife, Reading and Fiction in Golden Age Spain (1985)
  • Francisco Rico, The Picaresque Novel and the point of view (1984)
  • Peter Dunn, The Spanish Picaresque: a new literary history (London, 1993)