skip to content

Wrongdoing in Spain, 1800-1936: Realities, Representations, Reactions


The Wrongdoing project, funded by the AHRC, began in 2011 and ran to the end of September 2014. The Project Leader and Principal Investigator was Professor Alison Sinclair, the project’s Research Associate was Dr Samuel Llano, and the team included  a PhD student, Ms Nadia Oberto. This team worked on a series of research questions related to the varying profiles of the representation of wrongdoing, and its historical realities. The work was in all respects inter-disciplinary, and drew on work done in literary, cultural and musicological studies on the one hand, and on sociology, history, law, criminology and anthropology. It had a particular interest in popular culture and literature.

A key part of the project, related to its emphasis on popular material, was the cataloguing and digitization of a significant body of popular material held at the University Library, Cambridge, and the British Library. This material was of ‘pliegos sueltos’ (chapbooks), an ephemeral genre, frequently sensationalist, and habitually sold in the street. It includes ballads and prose writings on wrongdoing, some of them relating to real acts of crime or moral infraction, others being fictional in nature. This body of material offered a rich source of investigation for the project, and was read in conjunction with other material (newspaper accounts of crime, judicial proceedings and other historical sources on the one hand, and, on the other, fictional works on wrongdoing to be found in both popular culture and elite culture), although it was not the sole body of material considered.

Through the three years of the project there was a regular rhythm of workshops, some held in Cambridge, some elsewhere, and two conferences were held, one in Cambridge, one in London, at the British Library, alongside exhibitions in the University Library, Cambridge and the British Library. See Events for more information.

The project developed a number of links with related work being carried out elsewhere (see Links), including in particular the CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) in Madrid, the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, and the CREC group in Paris, as well as the University of Cantabria.

We welcomed contacts from scholars in all disciplines, and equally welcome suggestions about aspects of ‘Wrongdoing’ that might be covered in our activities. Our weekly reading group (held throughout the three years of the project) welcomed visitors and we benefited from their knowledge of other fields and institutions.