Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Nuria Cruz-Cámara

Committee Members

Óscar Rivera-Rodas, Jana Morgan, Álvaro Ayo


My research studies the literary censorship carried out by the Catholic Action Association through the Secretary of Bibliographic Orientation (SBO) in Spain during the 1940s. This secular institution paralleled, and in certain moments questioned, some Francoist values by judging and banning publications that had previously passed the official censorship. In particular, the censorship of the SBO focused, on the one hand, on Modernist Spanish authors who were accused of preaching strong anti-religious ideas and, on the other hand, on new texts published in that period that failed to reproduce the Catholic discourse. Through the analysis of this censorship activity, my dissertation demonstrates that Catholic Action sought to enforce their own supranational concepts of religion, moral, and social organization, which were different from those that dominated the political side of the dictatorial regime, with the ultimate goal of imposing their own transnational ideology. In this context, literature became a powerful tool to indoctrinate society in the idea of the Catholic and correct way to live, and it fulfilled the controlling mission of Catholic Action. However, at the same time, it was a hazardous channel through which the “wrong” message could be disseminated and, therefore, it had to be carefully censored. The way the SBO developed this task was by evaluating all the published texts and making reports of recommended and harmful books. Although Francoism approved these publications, their texts were examples of continuous questionings of traditional values and religion, which were unacceptable for Catholic Action. All the publications from that period were censored and reevaluated by the SBO as inadvisable readings, openly contradicting the official discourse.

My dissertation sheds new light on the relationship between Spanish Catholicism and the dictatorship, demonstrating that Catholic Action questioned the authoritarian regime and implemented its own ideology. Thus, Catholic Action redefined literature by turning it into a part of its indoctrination of society and by reducing it to a mere reproduction of the dominant ideology and pre-established behavior roles.

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