Integrating Art, History and Literature in the College Classroom

By:
Dr. Barbara Foley Buedel
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The key role of interdisciplinary courses in the college curriculum led to many curricular revisions in the 1980s and 1990s. Among them was the freshman year seminar in which integrated learning became a guiding principle. The focus on interdisciplinary learning is also key in a number of studies that advocate the integration of literature into the study of history. For example, Thomas H. Keene (1987) proposes using fictional works (primarily novels) in the modern Asian and African history class as a way of enhancing students' understanding of culture. Similarly, Jonathan Goldstein (1989) argues that the use of literary texts in a course on the Vietnam War can heighten cultural and historical consciousness, especially when a balanced approach is achieved by using both Western and non-Western literature. Rodney M. White (1993) considers the short story a particularly effective tool in teaching history because it enables learners to personalize history by recognizing its human aspects. Finally, Marsha Gilpin Ehlers (1999) finds that the use of literature in the history class helps students acquire a deeper understanding of their role in constructing the past. What these studies share in common is a critical awareness that literature helps create strong images frequently lacking in students' responses to non-fictional material.

In this study, I will advocate the merits of an interdisciplinary course from a slightly different perspective: the integration of art (Velázquez and Goya) and key moments in Spanish history into an advanced course on contemporary Spanish theater. The selected plays highlight critical periods of Spanish history: the Roman invasion of the Iberian peninsula, the marriage of Isabel of Castile to Ferdinand of Aragon, Philip II and the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the War of Independence (1808-1814), the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), and Spanish culture of the 1990s. Such an integrated approach introduces students to important contemporary dramatists while promoting a deeper understanding of the historical background and cultural context imbedded in significant works of contemporary Spanish theater.


Keywords: Art, History, Contemporary Spanish Theater, Integrated Learning, Interdisciplinary Courses
Stream: Arts, Drama and Design
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Integrating Art, History, and Literature in the College Classroom


Dr. Barbara Foley Buedel

Associate Professor of Spanish , Lycoming College , Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
USA


Ref: L05P0338