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Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four

3. The Spanish Civil War: Fascism and Communism in 1930s Europe

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and various political ideologies that were current in Europe during the 1930s, focusing in particular on: (i) the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the combatants on each side, and the international support from Nazi Germany (for the Nationalists) and Soviet Russia (for the Republicans); (ii) Franco, fascism and the concept of national renewal; (iii) Marxism and Leninism-Marxism; (iii) events in Russia since 1917: the figure of Leon Trotsky, his character and his political philosophy, Stalin’s consolidation of power in the 1920s and 30s (including the Ukrainian famine) and Trotsky’s exile and assassination; (iv) the ‘[tearing] of the concept of truth from the fabric of social discourse’ in Franco’s Spain (cf. Oceania in Nineteen Eighty-Four); and (v) Orwell’s own experiences in Spain in his period.


In this course, Dr Adam Stock (York St John University) explores George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The first four modules cover historical and literary context, including the genre of the novel, the life and career of George Orwell himself, and the political ideologies that were swirling round Europe in thirties and forties and which left their mark on the novel. The following four modules focus on the text itself, thinking about its structure, and how it engages with the concepts of time and space, history and memory, epistemology and ontology and power and language. In the final three modules, we think about some critical approaches to the novel, focusing in particular on Orwell’s presentation of nature and the natural world, and of female characters in the novel.


Dr Adam Stock is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at York St John University. As a researcher, he specialises in the interdisciplinary areas of utopian studies, science fiction and modernisms. His book Dystopian Fiction and Political Thought: Narratives of World Politics (2019) examined dystopian fiction from the first half of the twentieth century, while he is currently interested in questions about boundaries and borderlands, spatialisation, and the temporalities of speculative fiction in the twentieth and twenty-first century.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Stock, A. (2021, February 16). Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four - The Spanish Civil War: Fascism and Communism in 1930s Europe [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Stock, A. "Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four – The Spanish Civil War: Fascism and Communism in 1930s Europe." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 16 Feb 2021,