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Catalan Program

Edgar Illas
Professor and Director of Catalan studies
Edgar Illas
Prof. Illas, a native of Olot in Catalonia, earned his undergraduate degree at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in 1999 (with a "Premi extraordinari" or first in class), and his Ph.D. from Duke University in 2007. He is the author of the book Thinking Barcelona: Ideologies of a Global City (Liverpool UP, 2012) and of various articles on contemporary Catalan culture.

Catalan is spoken by approximately 10 million people. The Catalan-language area spans four separate countries: Spain, France, Italy and Andorra. Its main city is Barcelona. In Spain, the Catalan-speaking areas are Catalunya, País Valencià, Illes Balears (Mallorca, Menorca and Eivissa), and the “franja” of Aragó bordering Catalunya; in France, it is the Rosselló-Catalunya Nord; in Italy, the city of l’Alguer in Sardinia. Catalan is also the official language of Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees.

Despite the repressive policies of the Spanish and French states, Catalan has maintained a high cultural prestige since the Middle Ages and has played a central role in the political re-emergence of Catalonia as “a nation without a state.” Catalan literature constitutes an extraordinary cultural event that, for multiple reasons, has remained marginal amidst the great European literary traditions. Catalan women writers are especially significant, not only because of their literary value, but perhaps also because, as poet Maria Mercè Marçal put it, they often experience subjugation in three main ways: as women, as writers in a minority language, and as members of the working classes. At the same time, the Catalan areas have also produced a prominent tradition of art, architecture and urbanism. Some outstanding figures are architect Antoni Gaudí and painters Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí and Antoni Tàpies, among many others.

Catalan courses at IU give you the chance to acquire another Romance language and learn about its related culture, and at the same time to discover the internal diversity of Mediterranean countries such as Spain and France. Given the historical circumstances and the peculiar political situation of these areas, Catalan cultural production is a particularly fascinating space to explore the intricate relations between language, culture, the modern state and globalization.

Overseas opportunities

IU has a semester program in Barcelona through IES. Barcelona, furthermore, is well within reach for students in IU’s Madrid program.

For more information: Contact Professor Edgar Illas.

Links to informative Websites:

Courses in Catalan:

C105 Intensive Catalan Language (3 cr.): A four-skills approach to Catalan language; also includes a focus on Catalan culture. For students with prior knowledge of another Romance language.

C491 Elementary Catalan for Graduate Students (3 cr.): Introduction to Catalan language with emphasis on reading. Also includes a cultural overview of Catalunya and the Catalan linguistic area.

C492 Readings in Catalan for Graduate Students (3 cr.): Introduction to Catalan literary and cultural production of all periods with an emphasis on developing reading skills. Taught jointly listed with C450/550 or another graduate-level course for graduate students form other departments who might want the C491/C492 sequence.

C494 Individual Readings in Catalan Studies (Credits vary).

C450/550 Catalan literature (3 cr.): Survey of Catalan literature from the Middle Ages to the present. Significant works in all genres will be studied within their historical and cultural context. Issues of nation-formation, hegemony, ideology, and marginalization will be paid special attention.

C613 Catalan linguistics (3 cr.):. A survey of contemporary Catalan, including a survey of grammar; an overview of the history of the language and its evolution; and topics in sociolinguistics, including the study of attitudes towards the language as a whole.

C618 Topics in Catalan Literature (3 cr.): Topics include nationalism and literature, the Renaixença, Modernisme and Noucentisme, the avant-garde, exile, poetry and resistance, utopias and dystopias, specific writers (Joan Maragall, J.V. Foix, Josep Pla, Salvador Espriu, Mercè Rodoreda, Quim Monzó). Topics to be explored in view of current critical issues and theory. (This variable topics course would be jointly taught with C494 for undergraduates.)

C619 Topics in Catalan Studies (3 cr.): STudy of problems, issues and topics in Catalan studies, which may include Catalan politics, culture, architecture, and/or society. Course may be repeated for credit when topic varies. (This variable topics course would be jointly taught with C494 for undergradautes.)

C803 Individual Reading in Catalan Literature or Language (credits vary).