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catalan studies


Catalan is the most prominent of Spain's regional languages, with over 11 million speakers, 6 million of whom claim Catalan as their first language. Enjoying co-official status in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, and with speakers in Andorra (where it is the official language), France and Italy, Catalan is the expressive vehicle of a vibrant trans-national culture. The literary dynamism that accompanied Catalano-Aragonese Mediterranean expansion in the middle ages is internationally esteemed as figures such as Ramón Llull, Ausiàs March and Joanot Martorell all wrote in Catalan.

Having weathered the repressive linguistic policies of Bourbon centrism and Franquist fascism, Catalan culture, and more specifically its urban metonymy, Barcelona, are at the epicenter of the modernist and post-modernist projects. The writers Mercè Rodoreda, Carme Riera and Quim Monzó, the painters Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró, the architects Antoni Gaudí and Santiago Calatrava Valls, the musicians Pau Casals and Joan Manuel Serrat, and the chef Ferràn Adrià are all intimately identified with the Països Catalans.

Catalonia has historically been the channel for European currents in Spain, and today, Catalan's linguistic position is secure and expansive. The European Union is currently debating whether to grant Catalan official status; if granted, Catalan will become the only “stateless” language with official standing in the EU, a witness to its importance within a wider European context.

The courses in Catalan studies offered at Penn and abroad at Barcelona’s Universitat Pompeu Fabra present Catalan as a culturally thriving, vital contributor to the broader field of Hispanic Studies.