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Professor Derek Flitter

Professor in Hispanic Studies


01392 724229

Derek Flitter was an undergraduate and postgraduate student of The Queen's College, Oxford. He was Laming Junior Fellow at The Queen's College and then British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow in Spanish at Oxford between 1986 and 1990. After sixteen years working at the University of Birmingham, he came to Exeter as Professor in Spanish in 2007.


The main focus of his research has always lain in Spanish Romanticism and modern Spanish intellectual history, beginning with his 1992 monograph Spanish Romantic Literary Theory and Criticism (CUP) and continuing with his 2006 book for Legenda on the Romantic historical imagination in Spain. He is currently completing a book on eschatological elements in Spanish Romantic drama. Professor Flitter has published extensively also on modern Spanish poetry and on Galician literature. He is the editor of a number of collections of essays in the area of modern Spanish literature, and was Hispanic Editor of Modern Language Review between 2006 and 2014. 


A period of study leave in 2015 saw him begin work on a new monograph dedicated to the place of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer in the Spanish literary canon and in the history of Spanish aesthetics.

Research interests

Professor Flitter welcomes enquiries from prospective research students wishing to work in any of the following areas: Spanish Romanticism; nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spanish intellectual history; nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spanish poetry; the recovery of historical memory in Spain; Galician literature.

Spanish Romanticism

My first book dealt with the reception of Romantic aesthetics in Spain in the first half of the nineteenth century. It was described in a major review (Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, January 1995) as ‘an impressively researched volume, written with conviction and grace’, and as ‘the authoritative text on the question for years to come’. My 2006 monograph examined the ideological entailments of narratives of history made by Spanish Romantic historians and their shaping of prevalent Romantic perceptions of the past. I have published widely on various aspects of Spanish Romantic literature, especially the drama, and my current focus is reflected in the monograph, in preparation, on eschatological elements in Spanish Romantic theatre. I am currently completing an article on the aesthetic of the Sublime in the creation of landscape in Spanish Romantic poetry. I am a contributor to the Blackwell Companion to European Romanticism, the Cambridge History of Spanish Literature, and to the OUP Handbook of European Romanticism.

Nineteenth-Century Intellectual History

My most recent book is a study of ways of conceiving and interpreting history in early nineteenth-century Spain, when the ‘philosophy of history’ was first gaining intellectual currency in that country. Several of my other published essays have dealt with specific aspects of that same subject and its ideological conditioning. I am particularly interested also in the genealogy of important thought patterns and motifs within nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Spanish literature and ideas, especially the connections between Romanticism and the artistic culture of the Decadence, evidenced in my translation, with critical introduction, of Valle-Inclán’s Autumn Sonata.

Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Spanish Poetry

I have published several articles on the Nobel Prize-winning poet Juan Ramón Jiménez, and have a long-standing interest in poetic formulations of Platonic idealism in Spain. I am particularly interested in poetic expressions of spirituality and mysticism, and in their interdependence with forms of organised religion. I am currently co-authoring a collection of essays on the Spanish Romantic poet José de Espronceda as part of a collaborative partnership with Professor Diego Martínez Torrón (University of Córdoba).

The Recovery of Historical Memory in Spain

My long-standing teaching interest in post-Civil War Spanish narrative and my work in aspects of modern Spanish historiography have led me to explore representations of historical memory within contemporary Spanish literature. This has led to the organisation of an international conference at Exeter in November 2009 in conjunction with the Fundación Francisco Largo Caballero in Madrid and to the co-editing, with my colleague Professor Sally Faulkner, of a special thematic issue of the Journal of Iberian and Latin-American Research, published by Routledge in 2011.

Galician Literature

My research in this area has focused upon the major poets of the Galician cultural revival or Rexurdimento and upon the Galician cultural historian Ramón Otero Pedrayo. My published work has concentrated especially upon formulations of Galician nationhood and their provenance within the broader history of ideas, most recently in an article on the German Romantic entailments of Rosalía de Castro's poetry, which appeared in online publication under the auspices of the Consello da Cultura Galega.

Research supervision

Postgraduate Supervision since 2001

  • M. Phil on ‘Valle-Inclán and James Joyce', Lorena Vázquez Porto (1999-2002): PT submitted and awarded 2002.
  • D. Phil on ‘Galician cultural identity in Ramón Otero Pedrayo', Craig Patterson (1997-2002): FT submitted and awarded in 2002.
  • D. Phil on ‘Translations of Irish literature in the Galician cultural journal Nós', Kerry Ann McKevitt (2000-2003): FT submitted and awarded in 2003.
  • Ph. D on ‘Representations of the Inquisition in Nineteenth-century Spain', Daniel Muñoz Sempere (2003-2006): FT submitted and awarded in 2006.
  • Ph. D on Emilia Pardo Bazán and the construction of a Galician regional Gothic, José Carlos Tenreiro Prego awarded in 2014
  • Ph. D on the role of translations in the construction of Galician national identity, Silvia Vázquez Fernández awarded in 2014

Other information

Conference Organisation (since 2001)

  • September 2001, ‘Galicia: a Language, a People' at the University of Birmingham
  • March 2002, ‘La poesía española del siglo XX y la tradición literaria' at the University of Birmingham
  • November 2002, ‘Luis Cernuda, en su centenario, 1902-2002' at the University of Birmingham
  • March 2004, ‘Crear Mitoloxías: a Superestructura Simbólica da Galicia Imaxinada' at the University of Birmingham
  • November 2009, ‘La significación cultural y literaria del exilio politico español (1939)’ at the University of Exeter

Conference Papers Given (since 2001)

  • ‘Símbolo y tradición en los jardines del alma juanramonianos'
    March 2002 at the University of Birmingham, conference on ‘La poesía española del siglo XX y la tradición literaria'.
  • ‘El doceañismo en la nomenclatura romántica: encontradas perspectivas de literatura e historia'
    May 2002 at the University of Cadiz, conference on ‘La ilusión constitucional: pueblo, patria, nación'.
  • ‘O sagrado discurso: a relixiosidade na retórica galeguista'
    March 2004 at the University of Birmingham, conference on ‘Crear mitologías: a superestructura simbólica da Galicia imaxinada'.
  • ‘El teatro romántico español: una lectura escatológica'
    April 2004 at the University of Nottingham, colloquium in honour of Emeritus Profesor Richard Cardwell.
  • ‘First Principles, Last Things: an Eschatological Paradigm for Spanish Romantic Drama'
    March 2005 at the University of Valencia, Special conference of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland.
  • ‘Defining the "Romantic": El trovador in Context'
    April 2006 at the annual conference of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland, Liverpool.
  • ¿Cómo se escenifica ‘lo romántico? El triunfal estreno de El trovador'
    November 2006 at the University of Cadiz, XIII Encuentro De la Ilustración al Romanticismo.
  • ‘Discourses of Nationalism in Post-Civil War Galician Poetry and Music'
    March 2007 at the University of Exeter, symposium on ‘The Recovery of Historical Memory in Spain'.
  • El ausente siempre presente: la figura de Castelao en el nacionalismo gallego de posguerra’ November 2009 at the Exeter International conference on the Spanish political exile of 1939


Professor Flitter teaches widely in modern Spanish literature across the undergraduate curriculum, and contributes to the literary translation component of Spanish language modules.

Modules taught

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