Did you know that “Literature” courses are much more than reading and writing essays? Analyzing literature is basically collecting data… and understanding and interpreting the story depends as much on your cultural and historical knowledge as on your language skills. To practice these skills outside a traditional research paper or essay format, students in Dr. Bender‘s Fall 2020 seminar, Spanish 735: “Mapping Madrid in the Edad de Plata (1898-1939)” worked on non-traditional final projects that creatively combined principles of cartography and narrative analysis. This was an experimental project for Dr. Bender and her students, during a rather experimental semester back on campus with Covid-19 still being a concern — it was a a hyflex class and there were ongoing uncertainties surrounding scheduling, attendance, and the use (or restriction) of different spaces on campus.
Students could choose to produce a “narrative cartography” (a geographically-informed map that would convey a certain story based on an analysis of the text or a theme)… or a “cartographic narrative” (a more artistic or abstract, conveying a narrative about the text or theme through mapping principles, rather than a map itself). During the semester, the class read two full-length Spanish novels of about 200-pages each — Carmen de Burgos’ La rampa (1917) and José Díaz Fernandez’s La Venus mecánica (1929). They also read articles and essays on early 20th-century Madrid, Literary & Artistic Avant-garde movements, and women’s participation in public and private spheres of 1920s urban life. To associate plot-points with the real, historical places they were based on, students consulted historical and contemporary maps of the Spanish capital, from the 18th-century to the present.
Below are a few examples of what students came up with for their final projects:
In Anna’s case (above), she applied for a student research grant through Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry (OURCI) office, and she was awarded the funds in November. She is currently finishing her secondary research and re-design of the project with Dr. Bender, and she’ll be featured in K-State’s Seek Research Magazine soon. Anna will be sharing her project — “Out of Sight and Underpaid: Women’s Labor and the Urban Landscape of Madrid in Carmen de Burgos’ La rampa” — here on the blog this Spring, and at our virtual Modern Languages Initials Research Symposium in April. See our earlier post about her grant award for this project here: Spanish Major Awarded Research Grant for Narrative Mapping Project
Dr. Bender thanks all her students for their hard work and positive attitudes during a challenging semester (and year). Make sure to follow the blog (enter your email!) and our social media for updates, and to learn about the creative projects and innovative research of our #KStateSpanish majors and graduate students. Our COURSES page contains a description of seminars offered in Fall 2021.