Muslim Spain and its Legacy
The Sewanee Semester in Spain program focuses on Muslim Spain and its legacy in contemporary Spain. It is interdisciplinary in nature, and particularly during the first six-week orientation period classes, papers, cultural activities, and writing will involve a variety of topics.
The program offers credit for FOUR full courses:
Spanish 306. Advanced Spanish Language*
Grammar review and drill on colloquial speech and idioms. Expository writing will be emphasized. Tutorial visits to cultural sites form part of the work of this class, as does the language component of film study. Prerequisite: Spanish 203. (Credit, full course.) Acquaroni.
Spanish 310. Contemporary Spanish Culture and Civilization*
An in-depth study of contemporary Spain using the city of Madrid as laboratory and extended field trip. Topics include cinema, art, family structure, education, current politics, religion, daily social patterns, unique urban structures, etc. (Credit, full course.) Sánchez
Art History 315. Islamic Spain and Spanish Art*
A survey of Spanish Muslim art from the Emirate to the Nasrid period (8th to 15th centuries), including extensive discussion of the main monuments such as the mosque at Cordoba and the Alhambra palace of Granada. The course examines the presence and persistence of Islamic influence on Spanish Christian art of the late Middle Ages and the modern era. Special attention is given to mudéjar art. (Credit, full course.) Momplet.
History 369. Muslim Spain: Glory, Decline, and lasting influence in contemporary Spain.
A study of the rise of al-Andalus and the caliphate of Cordoba. The succeeding Taifa kingdoms, Almohad and Almoravid dynasties, and the Nasrid rule in Granada will be studied as well as the Reconquest by the Christian kingdoms of the north. Special attention to the concepts of convivencia and mudejarismo. (Credit, full course.) Cepeda.
*The Spanish and Art History courses count towards fulfilling general distribution requirements.
The orientation program consists of six weeks of intensive study of the Spanish language and of contemporary Spain. Our intention is to use the city of Madrid as a kind of laboratory:
- First, there will be six to eight hours of language classes per week. In addition, there will be four to six hours of classes dealing with contemporary Spain. These classes and lectures will deal with geography, social structure, family, religion, dietary customs, health care, the education system, festivals and celebrations, sports, cinema, literature, music, and dance (particularly flamenco).
- In addition to regular classes, there will be a series of guest lectures and guided visits to appropriate places of interest in the city (theaters, churches, stadiums, neighborhoods with particular urban organization or that reveal unique social patterns, etc.).
- The program will organize a walking tour of old Madrid and visits to Madrid’s major museums. In addition, students will be required to experience five cultural events from a list of approved activities. These range from a visit to Madrid’s famous Sunday morning flea market, the Rastro, to shopping trips to neighborhood stall markets, to the series of small, yet superb museums available in the city: the Romantic Museum, the Lazaro Galdiano, etc. Some of these activities will be coordinated with tutorial sessions, thus integrating tutorials into the academic program. Students will be reimbursed for any costs incurred in these activities.
- Several films will be viewed together by the group. The films chosen will present issues of contemporary Spanish society and will also be fine examples of cinematic art. The films will be studied as representative of Spanish culture and as examples of current speech patterns.
Tutors for the program are students of humanities at Madrid’s Complutense University. Their function is to introduce our students to the city, accompany them in their cultural visits, and to guarantee the development of our students’ Spanish, particularly colloquial usage. They will also help students in their writing
Field trips take place during this orientation period:
- A four day, three night excursion will take the group to Navarra and Bilbao in order to experience provincial Spain, and non Castilian Spain. In Bilbao we visit the new Guggenheim Museum and study the various issues surrounding the rebirth of Spain’s “rust belt”.
- A second, three day, two night excursion will take us to the Mediterranean city of Valencia. There, in addition to visits to the city’s monuments, we will introduce the students to the Mercado de la Cotorra, one of the largest and most colorful emporiums of Spain. Valencia, Spain’s third largest city and capital of the homonymous region, is a non Castilian zone bound to Catalan culture. It has served as a gateway of Mediterranean influence in Spain and of Spanish penetration into the Mediterranean. The trip to Valencia will take us through interesting landscape and through the provincial city of Cuenca where we visit the Museum of Abstract Art housed in Cuenca’s famous “hanging houses.”
- The program also takes a one day trip to El Escorial. El Escorial is the sixteenth--century palace/monastery built by Felipe II. The huge compound contains a fine painting collection, the royal pantheon, and one of the finest libraries of renaissance Europe.
The second part of the program consists of seven weeks of classes dealing with the semester’s main topic: Muslim Spain. Class work will concentrate on history and art history during this period along with continued language study. The program makes a field trip to the city of Toledo, which will be studied as an example of mudejarismo, the peculiar cultural blending that emerged from the multicultural Spain of the Middle Ages
The last period of the program takes the students on a two week field trip (or workshop) to Andalusia and Morocco. We shall rent a minibus, and travel to the cities of Cordoba, Sevilla, Ronda, and Granada in order to view the remnants of the civilization of al Andalus. We shall visit some of the south’s “pueblos blancos” (white villages) and make a stop at a beach resort. We plan to spend three days in Morocco in order to appreciate the links still visible between Islamic countries and Spain.
In short, the Sewanee Semester in Spain delivers an academic program combined with a cultural experience and a series of excursions and trips that are unparalleled in any study abroad program known to us.