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Isabel Cawthorn

Languages and Literature, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Remembering the Future: the (re-)�construction of memory, the past and the future in the nineteenth-century Spanish short story�

My thesis studies the role of memory and temporality in the nineteenth-century Spanish short story (1850-1899), namely works by Leopoldo Alas (1852-1901) whose reputation as a prolific short story writer has been largely neglected by scholars, leaving many highly experimental works undiscovered. The project offers an innovative perspective of nineteenth-century Spain, drawing upon theoretical frameworks from the interdisciplinary field of memory studies to analyse how concepts of temporality, the future, memory and modernity are expressed in the short story form.

My project builds on a broader critical reassessment of the nineteenth-century Spanish short story, revising dichotomous examinations of intrinsically complex questions. It will argue that particular understandings of memory help to articulate a vision of change, or stagnation, and will contribute insights into the intersections between time and space. For example, my project will address the dearth of attention around what might be distinctive about the rural and provincial, particularly in the nineteenth-century Spanish context, to incorporate the study of landscapes into the exploration of memory, culture and politics. Additionally, the thesis will interrogate the ways in which debates have been historically framed around memory in the nineteenth century, examining levels of historical consciousness and continual reflection on recurrent conflict and transformation.

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


  • Natural Horizons symposium, Lead organiser and chair, 24 February 2022, M4C-funded interdisciplinary symposium: http://natural-horizons.com/home
  • Rural and provincial space as sites of remembering and forgetting in Clarín's 'El Quin' and 'Viaje redondo', 7 July 2021, Green Hispanisms Conference, Swansea University
  • Land of oblivion? Clarín's rural and provincial spaces as sites of remembering and forgetting, 7 June 2021, M4C Digital Research Festival
  • Land of oblivion? Clarín's rural and provincial spaces as sites of remembering and forgetting, 11 May 2021, LCAHM Research Conference, University of Birmingham
  • Memory in Nineteenth-Century Spain: The appearance of death in selected works of Leopoldo Alas, 6-7 February 2021, LCIR Spatiality and Temporality Conference, Online

Public Engagement & Impact

  • Brilliant Club PhD tutor Autumn term 2021. This role consisted of the design and delivery of a research-led course to Year 10 pupils. The course designed was entitled 'Back to the Future: reading the past and future in the nineteenth-century Spanish short story'. 
  • Research Assistant, 'Women at War: The Lives and Afterlives of Combatant Women in the Spanish Civil War', University of Birmingham June-July 2021. Work for this role was carried out under the supervision of PI Dr Mónica Jato. Main responsibilities included; contacting and establishing partnerships with women's military organisations, acting as the point of contact between the research team and external partners, contacting UK and international archives to arrange dissemination and ethics agreements, writing and translating letters of contribution, and engaging with the wider community affected by the research project. 

Other Research Interests

  • Memory
  • 19th-Century Spain
  • Realism 
  • Space
  • Notions of modernity
  • Futuristic narratives


  • International Network of Nineteenth-Century Hispanists
  • Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland (AHGBI)

Prizes and awards

2019, Petrie Watson Exhibition, University of Sheffield

2018, Herbert Hughes Memorial Prize, University of Sheffield

2018, Fernando Moragas Prize for Spoken Spanish, University of Sheffield


University of Birmingham, 2021/22

- Spanish Core III Communicative Skills 1&2 (Advanced)

- Spanish Core III Communicative Skills 1&2 (Intermediate)

- Spanish Core II Communicative Skills 2 (Advanced)

- Spanish Core II Use of Language 1&2 (Advanced)

- Spanish Core IV Communicative Skills 1 (Advanced) 

- Spanish Core II Communicative Skills 4 (Beginners)