Online Resources for Teaching Spanish Golden Age Literature

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Twenty years ago, when I began my career as a professor of Medieval, Renaissance & Baroque Spanish literature, there was still a card catalog in the University Library. The OCLC (Online Catalog of the Library of Congress) was not internet linked. There was no internet.

This article begins with a brief update on the state of the art for finding teaching materials in Spanish Golden Age literature. Following that, I will offer a links to some examples of online resources available to teachers and students interested in this period.

Twenty years ago, anything and everything I used to research or teach the literature in my field was in print. If my library did not have it, I filled out a printed form to get the item through an inter-library loan. I used a ballpoint pen and pressed hard so the copies could be archived and processed. In other words, all my materials and processes to obtain them involved hard copies or, in the case of microfilm, soon became hard copies as I printed them.

Now, of course, there are so many ways of searching for relevant items that even at my small university, with the help of reference librarians who are very skilled at using more online archives than I can remember, I can get anything – and items are often delivered to my computer as PDF files.

Now, most primary literary texts of the Spanish Golden Age (1492-1692) can be found online. The only thing missing in most of these texts are footnotes, as in the critical editions. While we lost footnotes (a loss that can be made up by consulting critical editions in print, the old-fashioned way), we gained the ability to do fast searches for words and phrases. It was always frustrating to be able to remember a phrase but not remember what page it was on.

For teaching the Spanish Comedia – dramatic works – the Association for Hispanic Classical Theater, Inc. has a rich website, with links to dozens of works, aids to teaching and suggestions to professors and advice to students – in both English and Spanish. Members can order videotapes of professional performances of many of the classics of the Spanish stage which were originally written and performed about the time of Shakespeare in England.

For studying Golden Age Spanish poetry, there are many, many sites available. One important resource is found on the Comedia site already shown: a guide to Spanish Prosody –the rules for scanning verses so as to know how to pronounce or deliver them properly. The fastest way to find a text is to Google the author, or even a first line, if you know it. One poem stands out among the poems of the Baroque period because it was so revolutionary in its technique. The infamous poem was completed by Luis de Góngora in 1613. With the technical assistance of my fellow Golden Age scholar Dr. Fred Jehle, I created a multimedia edition of La fábula de Polifemo y Galatea, including sound and my original calligraphic version (scanned from hard copy, of course!), so that readers can hear all 63 of its eight line stanzas recited one at a time. This resource is valuable in that it allows readers to experience one aspect of poetry that they don’t always realize has always been important: hearing it.

Dr. Jehle’s online Anthology of Spanish Poetry is also one of many that contain the texts to a large corpus of poems, searchable by author and listed as well, as tradition has it, by first line.

Finally, no list of online resources to Spanish Golden Age literature would be complete without providing readers with a link to the Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, the very mention of which should suffice to say why it is important.

Y ahora me despido, deseando que os disfrutéis de la lectura.

Books that can help with your Spanish: Spanish Subjunctive; Past tenses; Pronoun usage