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School of Modern Languages & Cultures
Department of Hispanic Studies

Identity in the Spanish-Speaking World

Spanish Civil War Propaganda Posters

SEMINAR TASK

Analyse the imagery and messages of propaganda posters, relating them to the circumstances in which they were produced. Before the seminar, choose one poster and investigate what it represents. Bring a printout of your poster to the seminar, or a laptop or tablet on which you can display it. You'll be expected to discuss what the point of each poster is, explaining references to such things as the International Brigades or Fascism or literacy campaigns; to evaluate the visual and ideological impact of each image; and to comment on how it contributes to the construction of a collective identity.

SOURCES

The most helpful source in English for Republican posters (and a few Nationalist ones) is the Southworth Collection at the University of California San Diego, The Visual Front. It contains an excellent introduction, a detailed chronology of events from February 1936 to April 1939, and a visual index of thumbnail images leading you to 42 posters with commentaries, and another 40 unannotated.

There is also a substantial collection at Brandeis University, which gives full details of the source of each image but no contextual information.

The massive Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica collection, Los carteles de la guerra civil española, contains both Republican and Nationalist posters, including some from the postwar period. Full details of sources but no commentary, though the document provided on the ‘Más información’ link gives useful general information. There is no explicit identification of which posters are Nationalist and which Republican: the first 38 pages or so are Republican, while the remaining pages contain mostly Nationalist wartime posters and Francoist postwar ones (followed by some curious masonic materials at the end of the collection).

Carteles republicanos de la Guerra Civil Española is a very useful site in Spanish put together by the Lista GCE. It contains a collection of posters organized in categories, with fairly subjective, sometimes jocular commentaries; information about the artists; a good introductory essay by Mike Blacksmith, and a fascinating essay written in 1983 by one of the surviving poster artists, Carles Fontseré.

Memoria republicana (Sociedad Benéfica de Historiadores Aficionados y Creadores) is a substantial, well-researched collection of resources about the Republic and the civil war, with a clearly pro-Republican stance. Posters and photographs with commentaries, as well as links and articles.

The Biblioteca Nacional collection contains both Republican and Nationalist posters, but gives very little contextual information.

The Imperial War Museum collection has 100 posters, a few of which are Nationalist. Detailed descriptions but no interpretative commentary. Can be compared with British and German posters from World Wars I and II on the same site.

'Nightmares of Dead Children, Dreams of Utopia: Posters of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War' is a thoughtful essay by Cary Nelson (George Mason University, USA), with detailed visual analysis of selected posters.

A few more Nationalist posters that I have collected.

'La Guerra Civil española, un hito en la historia de la propaganda'
An online article by Alejandro Pizarroso Quintero in El Argonauta Español 2 (2005).

The book Images of the Spanish Civil War, edited by Ann Wilson (London: Guild, 1986) contains images from both sides, together with an introduction by Raymond Carr and detailed chronological tables of the events of the war.

Other resources

Map showing the progress of the war: Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century.

My chronology of the Republic and the civil war.

Treasures of the World website: Guernica: Testimony of War.

Songs from the war on the Altavoz del Frente website (Canciones republicanas de la guerra civil española).

The Spanish Civil War (casahistoria.net): selected and annotated links for history students.

España es mi canción: Nationalist songs from the civil war, collected by the Frente de Juventudes.

Shots of War: Photojournalism during the Spanish Civil War: photographs from the Southworth Collection at UCSD, with an excellent introduction.

Tercios Requetés de la Guerra Civil Española: homage to the Carlist Requetés (ideology, uniforms, iconography, links).


M.P. Thompson

Updated July 2014