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Elsa M. Calderón
The art component includes visual art and film. Art and film are essential components of this unit and are covered in several ways: using specific artists to introduce literature, using specific artists and films to present the themes covered in literature in a different way, and using art and film to highlight the themes of race and ethnicity. The artists themselves are of diverse racial backgrounds and their works reflect in different ways the Hispanic identity. A schematic chart is provided to enable Spanish teachers to adapt the sequence to the needs of their particular students. The sequence tracks the recommended authors for AP literature, includes background information of the authors' countries and cultures, and connects these authors to artists who reflect the three ethnicities that make up the Hispanic identity: Spanish, African, and Native American.
In order for all students to succeed in the AP course, the pre-AP course must be rigorous and preparatory. It must build on the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, so that the students enter the AP class with a high level of proficiency in all four skills. It must enrich the students´view of Hispanic culture. Culture is an intrinsic part of the AP course and culturally authentic materials must be presented throughout the year. This unit does not address all these needs, since that would be an ambitious and lengthy publication. Rather, this unit provides the AP teacher with ideas for motivating students to continue the study of Spanish and to increase mastery of the four skills via a unit that encompasses art, film, and literature. It is my hope that new AP teachers may find this unit useful and that veteran AP teachers may find renewed energy by incorporating some of the ideas in this unit into their lesson plans.
The central metaphor is the one offered by Carlos Fuentes in his book and films of the same title: The Buried Mirror.(2) He states that the connection between Latin America, Spain, and Latinos in the United States is similar to a series of mirrors that reflect back and forth across the ocean. He notes the importance of mirrors in history, art, and literature. He mentions the mirrors of Don Quixote, the mirror of Velázquez, the mirror of Quetzalcóatl, and the buried mirror of the indigenous populations of Mexico. He proposes that the Hispanic culture in general has several levels and compares that multiplicity or complexity to a mirror that lies partly concealed, partly buried. (3) It is the challenge of all students of Spanish culture and literature to examine this conceit and develop their own buried mirror after careful examination of their own ethnic background.
A related theme to that of the buried mirror is that of the buried city. Throughout the conquest of Latin America, it was the custom of Spanish conquistadores to raze the indigenous cities and build their cities on top, effectively burying the ancient city in an effort to eradicate the older culture. Mexico City is an example of this burial, in that the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán lies buried under the modern Mexico City. The painting by Antonio Ruiz of La Malinche illustrates this buried identity (4). It shows a sleeping Aztec woman, La Malinche, under a blanket that is weighed down by an intricate system of buildings, a city in effect. Beneath the reality of one culture or city is the physical reality of an older culture which may lie dormant but will never be forgotten by its people.
Some authors have commented on this brutal custom of the Spanish conquistadores to destroy a sacred site or vibrant city and construct a Spanish building. Luis Recalde writes in his Curriculum Unit 99.02.10 that the Spanish tried to "destroy and bury the cultures of the Natives, as in the classic case of Tenochtitlan." He notes that the Spanish gained control of the conquered population as they physically destroyed symbols of their past and their present, including religious centers and religious buildings. (5). For purposes of this unit, students may benefit by reading about the conquistadores in Mexico, in order to understand the message of Ruiz' painting, A recommended source for teachers and students is the book by Luis Rivera Pagán, entitled Evangelización y Violencia: La Conquista de América, cited by Recalde in his 1999 unit: Art Images of Tenochtitlan-Past and Present: The Case of the Virgin of Guadalupe. (6)
In literature, this buried background may be found in the poem of Nicolás Guillén, in his poem entitled The Ballad of My Two Grandfathers. One of the grandfathers is a white Spanish conquistador, whereas the other grandfather is an African slave. They had never met, but the author is the grandson of these two men and he joins them in his poem, that they may finally dialogue and discover what they have in common. After reading this poem, students could write their own poems about their grandparents and their backgrounds.
The metaphor of the mirror itself, without being a buried mirror, may be examined in the legends of Quetzalcóatl,and the figure of Don Quijote by Cervantes. Don Quijote, for instance, has as one of his names the lord of the mirrors. He saw life through mirrors and not clearly, as did others. Rather than windmills, he sees monsters about to attack him. Rather than an innkeepers´ daughter, he sees a lovely damsel in distress. The legend of Quetzalcóatl tells that this Aztec god was thrown into turmoil after viewing himself in a mirror, and fled his country in disgrace, promising to return to this people on a certain year. That prophesied year, the Aztecs were not surprised to see their god returning, and mistook Hernán Cortés for their departed god. Students may read these stories and legends as literature, reflections of a culture, and as points of departure for discussion and writing.
Another metaphor I will use in this unit is the aleph. In the Hebrew alphabet, the aleph is the first letter of the alphabet, the alpha. The aleph is described by the noted author, Jorge Luis Borges, as a point in time and space where you can clearly see all your past, present, and future, and it is all revealed to you at the same time. Carlos Fuentes sees in the Aleph the answer to his question of who are the Spanish-speaking people. Fuentes describes Hispanics as a Spanish-speaking people, a people of Hispanic background, from Spain, yet combined or mixed with African, Moorish, and Jewish blood. When the Spanish came to the Americas, the diversity continued with the Africans and the Native Americans. His message is that the Hispanic people are the past and present at the same time, and are of many cultures at the same time. Thus, the Hispanic culture may be viewed as an Aleph, where all may be seen at the same time, without confusion.
These ideas and metaphors of Carlos Fuentes and Jorge Luis Borges are very deep and challenge the students to use their imaginations and higher thinking skills to comprehend them and to apply them to Latin America today. I have found my students respond well to these intellectual challenges and it is my challenge as a teacher to facilitate discussions, help students analyze and apply the concepts and metaphors, and suggest artistic and writing activities so that students may show evidence of their grasp of these themes.
As compared to the mirror, which reflects and at times distorts, but nevertheless reveals much to you, especially if you look at the buried mirror, the aleph discloses all to you in one blinding moment. Students will study the aleph as a metaphor, read Borges´story entitled The Aleph, as well as other stories in the book of the same title, and design their own alephs, in written form as well as in original illustrations.
Note on the metaphor of the mirror: The authors and artists who explicitly use the metaphor of the mirror, buried mirror or buried city are so indicated. However, the author of this unit has used the metaphor of the mirror in a broader way, to include reflections, distortions, and omissions. The other authors and artists have been included because the way they handle the discussion of race and ethnic identity suggests an understanding of the multiple ethnic layering that inherently includes the concept of more than one, as in more than one ethnicity, with the likelihood that one is viewed and one is kept hidden or buried. What is perhaps buried in the Americas is the history of the native americans, the precolombian civilizations, and the ensuing African presence. What is perhaps buried in Spain is the history of oppression of the gypsies and the persecution and expulsion of the Moors and Jews.
The reasons I chose these three paintings, besides being readily available in both text and video formats, are that they introduce the themes of racial and ethnic identitites in Latin America, they reflect the ethnic heritage and cultural reality of Colombia, Cuba, and Mexico, and they have stimulated wonderful student discussions with my students as art per se. Each painting embraces a relevant theme in Latin America. La Familia Presidencial depicts extremely fat people who are archetypes found in Latin America: the family, the priest, and the military man. Umbral depicts three figures of African origin. El jaguar y la serpiente is rooted in the indigenous cultures of Mexico by its use of animals that have a strong symbolic value for the native Mexicans. After viewing the three paintings and discussing their connection to the three cultures, students are encouraged to research the three artists and bring to class further examples of their art.
The art component includes, besides these three introductory artists, the following artists: Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, from Spain, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, from Mexico. To a lesser degree, Diego Velázquez, from Spain, Antonio Martorell, from Puerto Rico, are also part of this unit. Works of art of the Mexican artists, Antonio Ruiz, and the Puerto Rican artist, Edda W. Santiago, are also briefly noted. Some of these are included in the textbook Pasaporte but teachers are encouraged to go to art books, museums, and even the Internet for selected art pieces of these artists. The sole example of Antonio Ruiz, entitled La Malinche, is a cover for a book of poems by Federico García Lorca, and the drawings of Edda W. Santiago are taken from a 1993 calendar entitled Yo Soy Boricua, dedicated to Puerto Rican women. I have also used a poster for 1999 Hispanic Heritage Month, which depicts three women of different races, wrapped in all the flags of Spanish-speaking countries. The chart in this unit suggests one way that these pieces of art may be connected to the literature component, but teachers are free to use them in a different sequence or to make substitutions. The art component is not intended to be the central part of this unit, but is rather intended to highlight, explore, and at times dissent from, the literature, which is the main component. Students, however, seem to delight in the art discussions because they are more direct and less complicated than reading a novel or even a short story, and the themes to be subsequently elaborated in the literature may be more easily discussed when viewing the art.
In the seminar by Professor Bryan Wolf, we learned techniques for examining not only mainstream artists, but also artists of color who have developed a dialogue with the mainstream traditions. Professor Wolf elicited lively discussions by carefully presenting questions to the class about the art itself, the intent of the artist, and how the particular work grappled with issues of gender, race, and ethnicity. These insights and strategies were helpful to me as a teacher of Spanish and I intend to use them in my classroom and in this unit.
Chart of countries, artists, authors, and films:
- 1. Write your personal Aleph poem.
- 2. Relect upon the artwork of Isaías Mata that illustrates the essay by Carlos Fuentes and draw your own collage.
- 3. Write an essay, 250 words minimum, about Carlos Fuentes' message of diversity and inclusion.Use the AP rubrics for assessment on a scale of 1-9.
- 1. View the art of Wifredo Lam, Fernando Botero, and Rufino Tamayo and connect to the words of Carlos Fuentes. Choose one example of art and describe it to the class.
- 2. View the art of Wifredo Lam and identify the African presence. Research santería and how it shaped the art of Wifredo Lam.
- 3a View the art of Fernando Botero and identify his political commentary and perspective on appearance, humor, and Colombian archetypes.
- 3b View the art of Salvador Dalí and connect to poems by Federico García Lorca.
- 4. View the art of Rufino Tamayo, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo and identify the indigenous presence. Research printed material and Internet.
- 5. Connect the art of Wifredo Lam to the poetry of Nicolás Guillén: La Balada de los dos Abuelos, Búcate Plata, and El Apellido by writing a lengthy essay about the thematic style, languge, and symbols that evoke an African presence.
- 6. Connect the art of Fernando Botero to the short stories of Gabriel García Márquez: Un día de Estos and Crónica and write a comparative essay about two symbols in Latin America: the priest and the soldier as developed in the art and literature of these two famous Colombians.
- 7. View Dreams of Malinche by Antonio Ruiz and connect to the history of Tenochtitlán. Write a descriptive essay that shows you understand the readings on Tenochtitlán and the Mexico-Spanish encounter, and the image of the buried city.
- 8. Recite one of the poems by Nicolás Guillén and analyze it for the class in a way that shows understanding of his language, tone, style, and symbols. Use the poetry guide sheet provided by the teacher.
- 1. Watch the first five minutes of Cristina Saralegui and describe to the class what you observed. After viewing the entire segment of the show of Cristina, react to the poem by the Chicano author. As follow-through, read the poem by Langston Hughes, translated into Spanish, of I, Too, Sing America, and write your own poem about your feelings of inclusion or exclusion into mainstream America.
- 2. Watch the film La Casa de Bernarda Alba for 5 minutes only, and comment on the following: symbols, images, stereotypes of women, stereotypes and myths of Spanish women. Comment on the stage setting and what message it communicates.
- 3. Watch the entire film of Casa de Bernarda Alba and compare the film to the play. For your first draft, compare the first act in the movie with the first act in the play. For your final draft, write a 300 word comparison essay.
- 4. Watch the video A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, by Gabriel García Márquez, and compare to the short story.
- 5. Watch the video A Miracle in Rome, by Gabriel García Márquez, and compare to the video A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, also by García Márquez. Write a comparative essay of 300 words, using the rubrics for a comparative essay and the AP rubrics for writing an essay.
- 6. Write a script for an imaginative and modern interpretation of La Casa de Bernarda Alba, set in New Haven, and videotape it.
- 7. Watch the 5 videos of Carlos Fuentes, entitled El Espejo Enterrado, or Buried Mirror, and complete the pre-viewing questionnaires and the post-viewing questionnaires for each one. After each video, do one writing project and one artistic project, as assessment. The 5 videos are: La virgen y el toro, La batalla de los dioses, La edad de oro, El precio de la libertad, and Las tres hispanidades.
- 8. Read the Pablo Neruda poems Los Conquistadores and Macchu Picchu and view the video The Conquistadors, about Francisco Pizarro´s conquest of Peru. Write an expository essay about the facts and the myths of Macchu Picchu in the form of a report. Then, write a poem about a clash between any two cultures, in ancient times or modern times, that resulted in a new culture or community.
2. Carlos Fuentes, El Espejo Enterrado. Madrid: Santillana, S.A.1997.
4. Dawn Ades, Art in Latin America. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1989, p.223.
5. Luis Recalde. Art Images of Tenochtitlán- Past and Present: The Case of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a curriculum unit of the Yale New Haven Teachers Institute, # 99.02.10, p.2.
6. Luis Rivera Pagán. Evangelización y Violencia: La Conquista de América.San Juan: Editorial Cemí.1991, p.259.
7. Pasaporte, p.17.
• Aley, Margaret, and Louis Albini. Galería de Arte y Vida. Lake Forest: McGraw-Hill, 1989. Useful for samples of Spanish art: El Greco, Velázquez, Murillo, Goya, Picasso, and Dalí, and for reading passages for advanced Spanish classes.
Anderson Imbert, Enrique, and Eugenio Florit. Literatura Hispanoamericana. Chicago: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1970. Recommended for Spanish 4 Honors and Spanish AP. Has a useful glossary of literary terms in the back. I found it useful for this unit because it includes excerpts from Jorge Luis Borges; Gabriel García Márquez; especially Un hombre muy viejo con unas alas enormes; and Pablo Neruda.
Ayllón, Cándido, et al. Spanish Composition Through Literature. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1996. Includes innovative ideas for using literature as a starting point for teaching writing skills.
• Borges, Jorge Luis. Aleph. Madrid: Alianza Editorial,S.A., 1995. Recommended for this unit. Borges is one of the five AP authors. I find some of the easier stories appropriate for Spanish 4 Honors: La casa de Asterión and Los dos reyes y los dos laberintos, and that way students are familiar with Borges as they enter the Spanish AP class. I like to save Emma Zunz for Spanish AP.
• Borges, Jorge Luis. Ficciones. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, S.A., 1995. Recommended for this unit. I have taught La Forma de la Espada and Sur in my Spanish AP classes.
Borsi, Emilia and Fay R. Rogg. El Arte de Escribir. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1994. A textbook used for teaching writing skills at colleges; may be useful for high school students at an advanced level.
Cabrera Infante, Guillermo. Vistas del amanecer en el trópico. New York: Penguin Books, 1974. A poetic and richly visual collection of brief passages about Cuba, teachers should use discretion since some chapters have violence and explicit language.
Chang-Rodriguez, Raquel, and Malva E. Filer. Voces de Hispanoamérica. 2nd. ed. Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1996. A useful anthology of Latin American literature and a must read for all teachers. For this unit, includes works by Jorge Luis Borges, Nicolás Guillén, Pablo Neruda, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, and Rosario Ferré.
• de Burgos, Julia. Poemas de Julia de Burgos. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Ediciones Huracán, 1982. A collection of poems by Julia de Burgos, including themes of love, nature, and identity.
• Díaz, José M., and Stephen Collins. Abriendo Paso. Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1995. An AP textbook which includes excerpts of the recommended AP authors used in this unit: Borges, García Lorca, and García Márquez.
Falcón, Rafael. Lo Afronegroide en el cuento puertorriqueño. Miami: Ediciones Personales, 1993. Very informative and insightful book about the African presence in Puerto Rican literature.
Fletcher, Valerie. Crosscurrents of Modernism: Four Latin American Pioneers. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Press, 1992. I found this to be the best source of biographical information on Wifredo Lam and includes a solid explanation of santería and the african influences on his art. The section on Diego Rivera is also highly informative. The other two artists are Joaquín Torres-García and Matta.
Fuentes, Carlos. El Espejo Enterrado. Madrid: Santillana, S.A.,1997. The seminal book for this unit, which proposes and describes the central metaphor of the buried mirror. The book itself is difficult reading for students due to its unual organization and its overwhelming wealth of information, but useful for teachers who may select excerpts for student use.
• García Lorca, Federico. Bodas de Sangre; Yerma. México: Editorial Porrúa,1999. One of the three plays by García Lorca that students should read, whether in Spanish 4 Honors or AP Spanish.
• García Lorca, Federico. La casa de Bernarda Alba. Madrid: Castalla, 1990. Another play by García Lorca for recommended student reading.
• García Lorca, Federico. Romancero Gitano. New York: Penguin Books, 1996. Recommended reading for AP students of Spanish Language and Spanisih Literature, but I included this edition for a second reason: the cover is Malinche´s Dream by Antonio Ruiz.
• García Márquez, Gabriel. Crónica de una muerte anunciada. White Plains: Longman, 1996. This book makes García Márquez more accessible for high school students, with its biographical information, chapter by chapter student exercises and glossaries, and an AP section.
• Guillén, Nicolás. Sóngoro Cosongo. Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada,1992. This and the following two books comprise a collection of poems by Guillén which are recommended for student reading.
Guillén, Nicolás. Summa poética. edited by Luis Iñigo Madrigal, Madrid: Ediciones Cátedra, 1990.
Guillén,Nicolás. West Indies Ltd.. La Habana: Imp. UCAR, García y Cia., 1934.
• Kanter, Abby. Encuentros Maravillosos: Gramática a través de la literatura. Glenview, Illinois: Scott Foreman Addison Wesley, 1995. A rich collection of short stories by the recommended AP authors, many of which I have used in my AP classes.
Lindsay, Arturo. Santería Aesthetics in contemporary Latin American Art. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996. An exciting and informative book for those teachers who want to read about the basics of Santería and how it has inspired artists of Latin America.
• Marqués, Sarah. La lengua que heredamos. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,1996. A very useful book for native speakers who need to refine their writing skills. It is organized by country and includes culture and literature as well as grammar exercises.
Martinez, Juan A. Cuban Art & National Identity (The Vanguardia Painters, 1927-1950) Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994. Solid reading for teachers who want an overview of Cuban art during this period.
• Neruda, Pablo. Selected Poems, A Bilingual Edition. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1970. A wonderful collection of Neruda´s poems, with several chosen for the themes of race and ethnicities of Latin America: Vienen por las islas, Amor América, y Alturas de Macchu Picchu. Another poem that my students read which is not found in this collection is Oda a la Papa, which extolls the potato, an american crop.
Pagolotti, Graziella. Wifredo Lam. La Habana: Editorial José Martí, 1997. Very useful book on Lam for those teachers who are seeking examples of his art, rather than biographical information. It includes more than 50 samples of this art.
Ramos Rosado, Marie. (1991). La Mujer Negra en la Literatura puertorriqueña cuentística. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, Puerto Rico. http://www.fempress.cl-base-especialespecialmjpr-literat.htm. Doctoral dissertation examines the lack of black women as central figures in Puerto Rican literature, dating back to the 19th century and including the 20th century.
• Samaniego,Fabián et al. Dime: Pasaporte al mundo 21. Lexington.:D.C.Heath,1995. This textbook is one of the central textbooks for this unit and is referred to as Pasaporte. The textbook used at James Hillhouse High School for Spanish 4 Honors and for Native Speakers classes, as well as used as a reference for AP classes. Teachers may follow the sequence of the book, pick and choose chapters of interest, and use the excellent ancillary materials : listening audiocassettes and cultural videocassettes. The video includes a segment of Carlos Fuentes explaining the metaphor of the buried mirror, a central metaphor for unit.
• Valette, Rebecca M. and Joy Renjilian-Burgy. Album: Cuentos del mundo hispánico. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 1993. A useful textbook to be used in Spanish AP classes. Includes the recommended AP authors.
Varona-Lacey, Gladys. Introducción a la literatura Hispanoamericana: de la conquista al siglo XX.. Lincolnswood: National Textbook Compny, 1997. Another exemplary anthology of Hispanic literature for teachers who want the overview. For this unit, it is useful in that it includes five selections of Borges and two selections of Carlos Fuentes and Gabriel García Márquez.
Virgilio, Carmelo L., Teresa Valdiviseso, and Edward H. Friedman. Aproximaciones al estudio de la literatura hispánica. 3rd. ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994. Includes literature from Spain and Latin America and is an excellent textbook of literary analysis for advanced Spanish students. A plus for AP Spanish students is the complete text of Federico García Lorca´s play, La casa de Bernarda Alba.
• Walqui-van Lier, Aída, and Ruth A. Barraza. Sendas Literarias. Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1996. Highly recommended literary selections, to supplement Pasaporte textbook or any appropriate grammar textbook. I have found it useful for native speakers, Spanish 4 Honors, and AP Spanish classes.
El Super (a film about a Cuban´s dream of returning to Cuba) (Spanish with English subtitles.)(90 minutes)
Films for the Humanities and Sciences, P.O. Box 2053, Princeton, NJ, 0054-2052. A source for Spanish videos, with a website at www.films.com.
Fuentes, Carlos: El Espejo Enterrado, set of 5 videos (Spanish)
García Lorca, Federico: The House of Bernarda Alba, (English )
García Lorca, Federico: Blood Wedding (Flamenco dance, 82 minutes)
García Márquez, Gabriel: A Miracle in Rome ( 76 minutes) A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings (90 minutes)
García Márquez, Gabriel: An Interview with Gabriel García Márquez. (59 minutes)
I am Cuba/ Soy Cuba (Spanish with English subtitles, 141 minutes)
Multicultural Books and Videos. A source for Spanish videos, with a website at www.multiculbv.com.
Mundo 21 Video Program, ancillary to Dime: Pasaporte al mundo 21.
Rivera, Diego: Portrait of an Artist (Home Vision Videos)
Rivera, Diego: The Frescoes of Diego Rivera
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