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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My first literature class in Spanish

I remember my first upper division class in Spanish (as a student I mean). We were reading El árbol de la ciencia. We also read Niebla, La cabeza del cordero, and Los bravos. How come I remember that and my students can't remember what they read last semester. It was a 10-week quarter course so four novels were enough. Anyway, on the first or second page of Baroja's novel the word algarabía appears. It seemed like a cool word so I looked it up. As luck would happen, the professor called on me to ask the definition of that exact word. I looked more impressive than I was, since I had not looked up every word I didn't know. Some things, though, are meant to be.

9 comments:

profacero said...

OK, mine was the Golden Age survey. On quarters, so it did not have medieval in with it. El caballero de Olmedo, La vida es sueño, assorted poems, novelas ejemplares. It was with a VAP and he was kind of a lightweight. The class I had taken before, Spanish 5, with a TA who was in Comp Lit, was far more memorable. It had all sorts of poetry from the romancero to GL and other modern Spaniards, the Burlador de Sevilla, and various Lat Am short stories including Cortazar, La isla a mediodia, Axolotl and La noche boca arriba, Carpentier, Viaje a la semilla, and more. Remember, this was in a quarter and it was the 5th quarter of Spanish. My paper was 1250 words and it was an explicación of a sonnet by Quevedo; it had no grammatical errors and it caught every rhetorical device and interior rhyme; TA thought it was technically great but would ideally have been more philosophical, or more about the concepts. I can still recite the sonnet, Cerrar podrá mis ojos la postrera sombra que me llevare el blanco día, etc., and explain llevare. Why people cannot do these things now I do not fully understand.

Jonathan said...

I can recite that sonnet too. Or could if I took 15 minutes to learn it again. Polvo será, mas polvo enamorado, all that.

I actually remember an earlier class, lower division, in which I learned to to Spanish syllable-counting and rhyme, we read Machado, HIstoria de una escalera, and Requiem por un campesino español. I can still recite some of those Machado poems too. That, I think was around 5th quarter.

The funny thing is, that once I learned the prosody, I knew from then on. I still remember things that I haven't used, too.

dameeleanorhull said...

I think I remember all the literature I read in my French classes, even though a lot of it was modern and I have never done squat with it since I was an undergrad. My breakthrough moment was when I took my first Old French lit course, not having had baby Old French first, and the prof met for extra reading sessions with me and a grad student in the same situation. One day she had to leave early, and the prof complimented me on how well I had done, compared to her; and I said, "She was able to sight-read, though, but I had prepared it" (I knew about the sight-reading because we had chatted in the hallway). "AND you had prepared it," my prof emphasized. I had always thought effortless talent was better than having to grind away at things; suddenly conscientious prep was encouraged and valued!

And I can still recite poems I learned in French. Also lots in English and a few Spanish. I once learned one of Rilke's sonnets in German but I can't call it up anymore.

Leslie said...

So DEH there was a woman on the tenure track by that point or was this Annalee or someone like that?
Did you have class with all those entertaining people, the impeccable Dutoit, the mysterious Hollier? (I am *very* nostalgic for real schools, i.e. schools not entirely dominated by vo-tech).

Jonathan yes, that was 5th quarter. My brother went to UCSD and had your reading list 5th quarter.

Jonathan said...

Then, right after that, they started introducing more quarter of just composition / grammar teaching students the same thing over and over again and never getting to lit. I skipped at least one of those wanting to get to upper division before my junior year in Madrid.

Leslie said...

I do not know what they did in Spanish 25, which was after Spanish 5 and was an introduction to literature. In Spanish 5 we had learned to identify a lira, etc., etc. and I skipped it (I could because I was not a major). Skipped Spanish 100 (ling), skipped 101 (advanced grammar), skipped 102 (composition), ended up therefore in 107B (Golden Age survey) next. I had thought I needed to start in Spanish 4 and it had been too easy, which was why I started skipping. I only had time for 1 more Spanish class as a sophomore, Dru on modern Spain, and then I went to Barcelona where I had medieval, and modern Latin American, and massive amounts of Catalan. I was quite Peninsular, I see: my senior year course was Quixote. So I got: 1 semester medieval and 1 modern Lat Am, 1 quarter golden age, 1 quarter quixote, and 1 quarter modern Spain and that is all but I appear to have learned far more than I am now able to teach, although I have the students for more time.

Leslie said...

* it in line 2 of comment above means Spanish 25.

dameeleanorhull said...

I had JJD for OF; I'm not sure where Annalee was at that point. I had classes with one tenured woman (20th c) and one on the tenure track (Belle Epoque); also a visiting scholar, feminist/women's lit, from NYU I believe. Hollier was ill the year I was doing my most intense work. Bersani handled my intro-to-the-major course.

profacero said...

Quelle nostalgie. I was addicted to the Bersani and Hollier lectures. Not because of their ideas but for the bibliography and because they could just walk in and talk, and make sense for hours with no notes. It was such a mega-skill they had.