Memory and Contested History: Penitentiary Poetry of the Spanish Civil War

For my research project this summer, I propose to analyze the life and work of three twentieth century Spanish poets, Miguel Hernández, Marcos Ana, and Ángeles García-Madrid. All three poets supported the democratic Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and worked as political activists and volunteers. After the victory of Francisco Franco’s nationalist forces however, they used their art and writing to record and criticize the grand injustice of the regime. Theorist José Ignacio Álvarez Fernández proposes that the numerous testimonies written by political prisoners of the Franco regime represent a “community of memory,” which preserves the personal and collective history of the republican side of the Spanish Civil War. I will analyze how the poetry of Ana, García-Madrid, and Hernández helps to form this “community of memory.” I will further analyze how their poetry and art works within this community to preserve the history of the “losers” of the war and honor their memory.

Political prisoners of Franco's nationalist forces

Political prisoners of Franco’s nationalist forces