Students write about a moment of puzzlement, challenge, transformation, joy, or learning in their research.
If you want students to...:
- Identify and articulate learning moments
Student Work Examples:
Unpacking the Fall – Angela Acosta – 2/2/17
While I did not quite realize it at the time, a pivotal moment in my research happened during my research trip to Spain last summer. Traveling to Spain opened the possibility of collaborating with researchers and archivists around the world to translate and research Vicente Aleixandre’s poetry and preserve his literary legacy. I enjoyed reading and hearing what Spaniards think about Aleixandre’s life and poetry. For example, I was unfamiliar with the complex situation behind Ruth Bousoño’s, the widow of Carlos Bousoño, possession of Aleixandre’s archive. My visits to the archives in Madrid and Málaga were instrumental in developing a collection of primary and secondary sources to use for my analysis, but there was one event that helped me develop the focus of my analysis of Sombra del Paraíso.
I met with a Spanish professor at the University Complutense of Madrid and had the opportunity to learn more about Spanish literature departments in Spain as well as his thoughts about Aleixandre. We talked about my Mellon Mays project and I was intrigued by how much he knows about Aleixandre’s relationships with other poets from his generation and beyond. The Spanish literature department at UCM seemed even larger than analogous English literature departments in the United States. While I was there, I felt as though I was truly immersed in Spanish literary culture. After all, Aleixandre’s house is a quick walk away from UCM.
Something that came up during our discussion was the possibility of a fall from paradise in Sombra del Paraíso. It wasn’t until I was reading the book of poetry again that the implications of the fall from paradise became apparent. The title Shadow of Paradise refers to looking at paradise from the shadows, or paradise lost. The different sections of the book cycle through depictions of a past paradise and the present lost paradise. After thinking of the book’s relationship with its intertext, Paradise Lost, I realized that a key feature of Milton’s plot – the fall – does not appear in Aleixandre’s poetry. While it is plausible that Aleixandre decided not to include it, he certainly would have been cognizant of its importance in Milton’s epic poem.
Moreover, Aleixandre’s fall from paradise could have been the Spanish Civil War or other external factors not specified by the text. I decided to find poems that relate to this theme, but I did not have any guidelines as to how to tell whether a poem involves the fall from paradise. To solve that issue, I eventually noticed that the commonality between the poems that I selected was saying goodbye to paradise in some way. I am happy to have found my unique intervention in research about Aleixandre’s poetry that has not, to my knowledge, been written about yet. I look forward to having discussions with scholars about this phenomenon and more intriguing topics about the Generation of 1927 poets.