After Castilian became the language of the ruling classes of Spain in the fifteenth century, Galician survived only as a spoken language of farming and fishing communities. Some of its prestige has been regained over the past 130 years through the language revival and accompanying nationalist movement which led to the eventual development of the Galician autonomous government (the Xunta).
Today there is much contemporary writing in Galician. In 1991, the Xunta de Galicia generously agreed to fund a lectorship and a Centre for Galician Studies in Oxford , one of only two UK universities where the subject is studied. As well as increasing undergraduate activities, this has led to a new translation workshop, whose greatest success has been Xosé Luís Méndez Ferrín's ŒThem' and Other Stories (Planet Books 1996).
The Centre for Galician Studies has organised two major conferences, and co-organises the annual Forum for Iberian Studies which brings together the different languages and cultures of the Iberian peninsula on an equal footing. Since 1992 the Centre, under the Directorship of Dr John Rutherford, has organized an annual conference in Galicia to explore the relationships between the region and the British Isles . In 1997 the universities of Oxford and Birmingham co-founded the annual Galician Review, the only English-language academic journal of Galician Studies.
The Centre for Galician Studies offers undergraduate courses and supervision for graduate students. Recently completed D.Phil theses include research on the Galician nationalist Ramón Otero Pedrayo, the writer Sofía Casanova and the literary magazines Nós and A Nosa Terra. Current research projects by Dr John Rutherford include a study of the theory of humour in the work of the Galician thinker Celestino Fernández de la Vega.