Featured Courses

Featured Spring 2020 Courses

Theory and Practice of Hispanic Theatre

Spanish 564

1:00-2:15pm TTh, 1:20-2:10pm F (4 credits)

Trans-Atlantic perspective of Baroque theater: reading, understanding, and performing theatre from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries, with stage practice.
Nuria AlkortaThis course, available to both undergraduate and graduate students, will be taught by the internationally-renowned theatre director Professor Nuria Alkorta, PhD. Professor Alkorta has taught at Harvard University and is tenured at the Real Escuela Superior de Arte Dramático in Madrid. She comes to UW-Madison with a Tinker Fellowship through Latin American, Iberian, and Caribbean Studies (LACIS) for the spring semester of 2020.

Have you ever wondered how a play is staged or how to find a place to put theory into practice? Even if you have no experience acting or creating costumes, this class invites you to explore the artistic side of yourself! The course will be centered on a variety of plays from the Spanish and Spanish American Baroque period, combining theoretical and practical aspects of staging. This is not, however, a course with two separate parts, but rather a unified inquiry into a range of texts from the perspective of theatrical performance. The final result will be a public performance on the part of the students of a full-length Spanish American play directed by the Professor.

image is purely decorativeWe will study the use of different metrical, rhetorical and musical forms, stage directions, and costume, etc., analyzing the motives and purposes of each of the author’s choices, and we will try out their effectiveness on stage. Set, lights, costume designs, production, and direction will be part of this collective endeavor and each student will assume an active role in the performance (acting is not necessary). Students with interests in music, crafts, and design can help explore theatre through the live performance. The end project is to perform in front of a live audience. Class and performance are in Spanish.

image is purely decorativeWe will also evaluate the modernity of texts as well as their ability to appeal to American audiences in our own times, and we will look into the role that scholars, directors, actors, and theatre professionals in the 21st century play in this.

The choice of dramatic material and its staging for much of the course will depend on the group of students. In any event, work performed at the end of the course will be a full-length play from the Spanish American Colonial period, most likely a comedy by the great Mexican dramatist and poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.

requisites: Spanish 223 and 224

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Featured Fall 2019 Courses

Hispanic Screen Studies: Digital Cinema of Spanish America

Spanish 472

8:50-9:40am MWF (3 credits)

In the U.S., the term “digital cinema” may suggest first and foremost CGI-based fantasy or superhero blockbuster movies with production budgets running into the hundreds of millions of dollars. In Spanish America since the turn of the twenty-first century, however, the cost efficiencies and technological advantages of digital film production have enabled an enormous diversification of the kinds of feature films that are produced. Communities and even entire countries that were never able to represent themselves in the expensive format of the 35mm feature film are now able to produce fictional narratives that represent their own unique cultural experiences by avoiding the financial pressure that historically accompanied celluloid-based film production – namely, the obligation to recoup million-dollar investments by conforming to established genres and the preconceptions of foreign audiences.

In this course, taught by Professor Glen Close, we will study twenty-first century digital feature “films” (no longer technically films) from a range of Spanish American countries. We will examine the distinctive aesthetic and technical capabilities of digital cinema, as well as the specific cultural and industrial contexts in which the films were produced and distributed. We will examine a wide variety of digital filmmaking styles that include: the first feature ever produced by indigenous directors in Spanish America’s most indigenous country; an illegally produced “hidden-camera” documentary-fiction hybrid; a co-produced comedy-melodrama that is the highest-grossing Spanish-language film in U.S. history; relatively big-budget films in Spanish and Yucatec Maya by renowned foreign directors (Barbet Schroeder, Mel Gibson, Steven Soderbergh); and arthouse films by some of the region’s most critically acclaimed directors, including Arturo Ripstein, Claudia Llosa, Pablo Larraín, Matías Piñeiro, and Lucrecia Martel.

requisites: Spanish 223, 224, and 311

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Race, Religion, and Ethnicity in the Age of Empire

Spanish 490

2:30-3:45pm TTh (3 credits)

painting of Juan de Pareja
Velázquez’s painting of his Morisco slave Juan de Pareja

This course, taught by Professor Steven Hutchinson, will explore encounters and relations with different forms of “otherness”. We will move from America to Spain and across the Mediterranean world to Istanbul, from the late 15th century to the 17th. Issues of race, ethnicity, and religious affiliation will take on diverse forms throughout the course. Spain’s long history of relations between Muslims, Jews, and Christians will form a backdrop to interactions with native Americans, sub-Saharan Africans, Jews, Moriscos, Gypsies, North African Muslims, and Turks. Strait of GibraltarOne of the millions of slaves in the Mediterranean world during this period was Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote. He and many other writers would reflect profoundly on questions of “otherness” in works that would have universal implications and that continue to reverberate with our concerns in the 21st century. Such works will guide us through this course, as will a wide array of visual resources from that era and our own.

requisites: Spanish 223 and 224

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