SPW4100/5934: SURVEY OF SPANISH LITERATURE I
Welcome to SPW 4100: Survey of Spanish Literature I (Middle Ages & Golden Age). This course offers a panoramic view of important literary works and authors from the first manifestations of lyric poetry in the Iberian Peninsula to the masterpieces of the Golden Age and Baroque periods (roughly, from the 11th to the 17th centuries). For this purpose we will read and discuss a selection of representative works of each period, as well as two very-influential theater plays composed in Spain. The first part of the course will focus on the Middle Ages, where we will discuss the origins of literature in hispanoromance (lyric poems such as kharjas and cantigas), focusing on the interaction between the three different religious and cultural groups in medieval Spain (Jews, Christians, and Arabs). We will also study the development of epic poetry, reading selections from the mester de juglaría (Poem of My Cid, etc.) and the mester de clerecía (Gonzalo de Berceo and others), and finish with a representative sample of medieval Spanish prose (didactic tales, etc.) In the second part we will focus on the Siglo de Oro. The literary and artistic activity in Spain during these years –both in quantity and in quality– was something the world had never seen before (and will never see again so far), producing world masterpieces such as Don Quijote (1605, 1615) –the best-selling, non religious book ever– or The Trickster of Seville (ca. 1616) –the most influential theater play of all time–. Just to give you an example, the celebrated William Shakespeare wrote 37 plays (and a few more that are lost) in all his life. His Spanish contemporary, Lope de Vega, wrote approximately 1,500 –basically writing forty plays every time Shakespeare wrote one–, and while some of them were not that great, he also gave us masterpieces as Fuenteovejuna, La dama boba, or El caballero de Olmedo. Consider, too, that in just a tiny portion of Madrid there lived at the same time Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Francisco de Quevedo and Luis de Góngora. This would be like having, for example, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Robert Frost, and John Steinbeck living in downtown Tampa at the same time. At a time when, mind you, downtown Tampa would have been very, very small. Class lectures, readings, materials, and discussions are in Spanish, and in this course the language is not an end, but a means to get to know the literary movements and works of a country with such a rich literary legacy as Spain. While I will try to make every class as enjoyable as possible, there are many things you must do on your own. The first one, of course, is come to class prepared, having read the assigned works, and with your homework completed in a suitable manner. Apart from that you need to participate in class, and be ready to read and write (and by this I mean read and write critically). Remember that your participation in class is essential, so you must always come prepared. If you are willing to put in some time, I promise the course will be worth the effort.