This semester, the Spanish 202 class, officially titled “Gateway to Advanced Spanish,” is focusing its efforts on developing intermediate Spanish skills while studying the Spanish Civil War.
And the students, led by Professor Camille Sutton, are not only studying the circumstances both in Spain and worldwide which led up to the conflict – they are also inhabiting some of the key players!
Borrowing some of the activities and approaches associated with Reacting to the Past, a pedagogical framework that is widely used in Simpson College‘s History and Civilization courses, Spanish 202 students are investigating the individuals and groups involved in this historical period in order to take on their roles.
The preliminary unit, called “Las ideas” (The Ideas), centers on the cultural, economic, and political circumstances in Spain leading up to the war. Students have investigated the political “climate” of the country in the years preceding 1936, and are now using that information to try and develop speeches and statements promoting the ideologies of the characters they have been assigned. This work has involved research, reading, writing, and speaking about these complex topics – all in Spanish!
Students have been assigned a variety of roles, which range from real historical figures to loosely-sketched demographic types. One student has been assigned to adopt the persona of anarchist leader Buenaventura Durruti while another as been assigned to play the fascist José Antonio Primo de Rivera.
One student has taken her role assignment to a new level. Biology major, Spanish minor, and Simpson volleyball player Katie Kieffer was assigned to play Francisco Franco, and she has embraced the role with gusto, even going so far as to Photoshop her own face onto a photo of the dictator! (Original here.)
The following unit, “La guerra” (The War), will involve research into propaganda, journalism, and foreign involvement in the Spanish Civil War, while the closing unit, “La memoria” (Memory), will have students researching, presenting, and critiquing the ways in which the war and its aftermath are living on the memory of Spaniards.
Language and culture studies at Simpson College – never a dull moment!