UCL European Institute


Barcelona summer school

27 June 2023

This June, EI director Uta Staiger is teaching a credit-bearing Summer School in Barcelona, funded by the Erasmus-successor programme Turing.

Barcelona aerial

The school is directed at undergraduates studying literature, languages, and European social and political studies at UCL, and explores constructions and contestations, districts and divisions of the Catalan capital. Working with a wide range of local hosts, including the Fundació Miró and the Institut Ramon Llull, it includes diverse forms of site-specific learning and teaching that serves to advance a dynamic range of creative-critical expression.

About the programme

La reforma de Barcelona!… Quan un barceloní, quan qualsevulga català, pronuncia o escriu aquestes paraules, posa en elles tot son poder d’ensomni, tota la impaciència de la seva vocació per les creacions enèrgiques.

The reform of Barcelona!... When a citizen of Barcelona, when any Catalan, pronounces or writes these words, he invests them with the full power of his imagination, with the impatience of his calling for vigorous constructions.

   (Eugeni d’Ors)

In the early 20th century, with the noucentisme in full swing, the essayist Eugeni d’Ors invoked Barcelona as an entity part physical, part imaginary, its ideational and material urban development the very expression of a new programme of modernisation. At the very least since Cerdà’s 1859 construction of the Eixample, the city has been continually built and rebuilt by the twin engines of ensomni and reforma.

The course explores constructions and contestations, districts and divisions, spectacle and speculation, which all characterise Barcelona in one way or another. We do so by exploring the history of urban planning, literary texts, film, non-fiction and critical essays, and academic literature from a variety of disciplines. Each session addresses a key topic, a historical period (from the 1880s to today), and a particular part of town. Almost every day, we have an associated activity, often taking place in cooperation with a local institution/organisation, who will sometimes host our session, too.


Daily schedule

Day  & TopicEpochAREA
Day 1: Barcelona's urban development: a historycross-centuryCIUTADELLA & PLAÇA ST JAUME
Day 2: Thinking/mapping citiescross-centuryEIXAMPLE
Day 3: Transformation, speculation, spectacle1880s-1929MONTJUÏC
Day 4: Ideological divides, political violencecivil war (1930s)GÒTIC-RAMBLES
Day 5: Solitude, survival, bare life1930s-40sGRÀCIA
Day 6: Divided cities: class, language, district1950-60sCARMEL
Day 7: La ciudad de los libros1960s-70sSARRIÀ
Day 8: La ciudad secreta1970s-80sVILA OLÍMPICA & GLÒRIES
Day 9: La ciudad mentirosa1990s-2000sRAVAL
Day 10: Beyond the limits of 'Barcelona'2010s-2020sL'HOSPITALET


Logan Armstrong on Unsplash