Fuente Ovejuna, Midterms, Essays and World Literature

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so these next few will be a bit spare, sadly. The midterm crunch is getting to me just as much as to my students, I think! The past week, in 203, we spent most of our time on Lope de Vega’s Fuente Ovejuna, which students really seemed to enjoy; one student in particular surprised me (Melissa!) by participating actively and passionately in the discussions. The text is not only accessible, but it also works on so many different levels that the work of analysis becomes almost easy–there’s the plot and the subplot, which dovetail nicely, allowing one to comment on the other or to operate as a metaphor for the other. Students seemed readily open to the idea of love–and lovemaking–as a metaphor for legitimate, moral, right action between individuals, and from the metaphor of interpersonal behavior to the significance of community. Both of these forms of interaction emphasize interpersonal responsibility; the town becomes one composed of many parts, just as the couple or the family unit does, and each part has a responsibility to the other. The Commendador’s vision of interpersonal relationships is very one-dimensional, linear, non-reciprocal, which tends to fragment the self from the other.

So far, only one student is working with Lope de Vega for the first essay, which I’m a bit surprised about; however, I don’t think I put any sample essay topics about the play on the assignment sheet. I’ll definitely have to incorporate some of those in later classes.

The midterm happened on Tuesday, and I’m eager to see what everyone’s done; I’m hoping to finish that grading pile by Monday, though as Robert Burns has said, “the best laid plans….”

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