Summer in Spain
The Sewanee Summer in Spain
program consists of two full academic courses and a PE course: Introduction
to Medieval Spain and the Road to Santiago (Spanish 314); Western Art,
Spanish Art, and the Road to Santiago
(Fine Arts 214); and The Road to Santiago (Physical Education 214). It
takes place between June 8 and July 26, and involves 10 days of study in
Sewanee, 2 weeks in Madrid, and 3 and one half
weeks of hiking, study, and travel in northern Spain.
The 10 days in Sewanee consist of lectures
and discussions covering the basic themes of the courses and the major texts.
In addition, we practice and drill the essentials of conversational Spanish.
Furthermore, we take advantage of Sewanee’s location by doing daily hikes in an
effort to ready ourselves for the rigors of the pilgrimage.
Our time in Madrid has several objectives. First, we
continue to study both the Middle Ages and the Road to Santiago, paying particular attention to the
artistic and architectural aspects of these areas. We also plan several
excursions that will enrich our study of the Middle Ages. First, we take a
3-day trip through Atienza, Sigüenza, Gormaz, Burgo de Osma, Arlanza, Silos,
and Covarrubias. We give attention to small town and city life, we visit
several castles (never forgetting that Castile
means “land of castles”), we look at several monastic institutions (some in
ruins), and pay particular attention to the monastery at Santo Domingo de Silos, its Romanesque
cloister, pharmacy, library, and its ongoing tradition of Gregorian chant. Our
second excursion is a day-long visit to Toledo,
known as the city of three cultures. We visit its famous Gothic cathedral, a
mosque, and several synagogues as well as various other museums and
ecclesiastical institutions. We hope that familiarity with Toledo
will provide students concrete examples of what we perceive to be the
multicultural nature of medieval Spain. We intend to follow this theme
of multiculturalism throughout the course. Our third field trip takes us to El
Escorial for a day. This is the monastery/palace built by Philip II in the late
16th century. Although the building itself does not fall within the subject
matter of our course, its library contains one of the best collections of
medieval manuscripts in the world. Many of the most important codices in Latin,
Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, and Spanish are on display in the library, and again,
they exemplify our interest in multiculturalism. In addition, El Escorial is an
excellent example of how the attitudes and vision typical of the Middle Ages
are maintained in sixteenth-century Spain.
In addition to classwork and field trips, we
take advantage of our presence in Madrid to
visit the world-class artistic triangle formed by the Prado
Museum, the Reina
and the Thyssen-Bornemisza
Museum. We also intend to
visit Madrid’s Archeological Museum,
see a bullfight, and tour the seventeenth-century center of the capital.
A special aspect of the two-week stay in Madrid is small group
tutoring by Spanish university students. The objective of this tutoring is to
develop and extend knowledge of colloquial Spanish and to provide ample time
for conversation practice. Tutors also introduce American students to the
university milieu of Madrid,
to the extent that a two-week period allows that.
The third part of the program is an
accelerated pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela starting from Roncesvalles in
the Pyrenees and continuing through Navarra, La Rioja, Old
Our route follows the one described in the fifth book of the12th-century Codex
Calixtinus, the famous Pilgrim’s Guide. We will have a small bus and
a driver at our disposal, and we plan to book lodging, in advance, for each
day’s journey in a wide variety of hotels, hostels, and pensiones. We
have several objectives in mind for this part of the course:
1) Tracing the influence of French and other
European influences on Spanish culture of the Middle Ages: Romanesque and
Gothic art and architecture; literary currents (epic and courtly poetry);
monastic culture, especially the Cluniac and Cistercian orders; the impact of
Carolingian script and the Roman liturgy.
2) Observing the mudéjar/multicultural
aspects of the Road.
3) Learning to read façades–the iconographic,
biblical, hagiographic, historic, and aesthetic backgrounds necessary for
sophisticated appreciation of the monuments we will see.
4) Becoming familiar with the physical and
cultural geography of northern Spain.
5) Walking the Milky Way. Although we will
make use of a small bus to accelerate our pace and provide us with the luxury
of not having to carry more than what we need for a day’s hike, we plan to
complete two periods of intensive walking, one at the beginning of the three
weeks in and around Navarra and Old Castile, and a second one in León and
Galicia. Pilgrimage is walking. In order to experience physically why such an
activity is seen as a microcosm of life one must walk, sweat, and hurt; feel
anger and envy; enjoy the essential pleasure of companionship; know the despair
of loneliness; experience the deep satisfaction of achievement in something as
insignificant as topping a hill or eating a crust of bread.
Somewhere in the middle of the three-week
period we take a “break” by driving to Spain’s northern Cantabrian coast.
Our objectives in this break will be 1) rest and relaxation on excellent
beaches, 2) view the incredibly beautiful coastal mountain range, the Picos de
Europa, 3) examine first-hand the alternative coastal pilgrims’ route to
Santiago, 4) appreciate the coastal cities and ports that enhanced Castile’s
international commercial and cultural contacts.
In short, we invite you to take part in an
adventure that brings together the academic, artistic, spiritual, and physical
realms by focusing on and participating in one of the most traditional and
perennial activities of human beings–PILGRIMAGE.
COME WALK WITH US!
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