November 2012 Archives

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Morales, Delgado. The Calderónian Stage. Body and Soul. London: Lewisburg Bucknell University Press, London Associated University Presses. 1997. Print.

This text is a series of essays discussing various aspects of staging Calderon's plays during the Golden Age. The essays are dividing into three categories: Poetry and Performance, Embodying the Sacred, and Spaces for Women's Wit. The sections I focused on were Poetry and Performance and Embodying the Sacred. These essays discuss the theatre conventions that were used in performances of Calderon's work. They go into further detail about how these staging techniques reflected popular themes in Spanish Golden Age society. These themes were based around the discovering the mystical and explaining the unexplainable. One theatre convention involved placing a symbolic tableau behind and curtain and having the curtain slowing drawn back to reveal it to the audience. The tableau itself would have a specific meaning attached to it that the audience would immediately understand. I used this source to further research the themes of Calderon's work and how th

Levy, Kurt, Ara, Jesús, Hughes, Gethin. Calderón and the Baroque Tradition. Canada: Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data. 1985. Print.

This text is a series of essays discussing different aspects of Calderon's theatre from the historical context of his plays to the central themes to staging methods and how they relate to said themes. The essays fall under one of four categories: themes, the musical dimension, visual aspects, and individual plays. All the articles return to the idea that El Mundo, the world, was included in the dramatis persone of his plays. The essay The World Picture in Calderon's Autos sacrementales focuses on how Calderon's theatre responded to a changing world view during the Spanish Golden Age, in which the arts and sciences were beginning to separate. While the world of science was beginning to accept that the Earth was not the center of the universe, and man's new place in this new world, the arts remained very much in the past. Calderon, like Milton in Protestant England, was ahead of his time in that he was exploring these new themes of man's place in a larger, mystical, unexplainable universe. The article The Use of Costume in Some Plays of Calderon discusses how characters were assigned their imaginary roles by El Mundo, in place of a godlike figure. It discusses how costume was used to further the purpose of the spectacle, to reveal something of the mystical and to reflect some of the themes emerging in the new world view.

Calderón de la Barca, Pedro, Kidd, Michael. Life's a Dream: Edited and Translated by Michael Kidd. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 2004. Print.

This translation is in prose and for an America audience. Some translators left it in verse, but lost some historical dialects over time. The introduction notes discuss the politics of the time, Calderon's life and how he is a contemporary of Shakespeare, and what influence Elizabethan writing had over the Spanish Golden Age. In the translator's notes, Michael Kidd discusses how when translating from Spanish to English, the rhythm is off. Shakespeare wrote in English, mainly in iambic pentameter. Although Calderon may have had a rhythm to his writing, it has disappeared over time because of the original language it was in. The plot has many subplots and can be summarized later.

17th C Spain. Overview: Politics. 2009. Spain Then and Now. 8 November, 2012. <> is a summary of 45 years of travel and research composed by two retired university professors who attain the aliases of 'J.G.' and 'Margaret'. The website contains immensely detailed information on major elements of Spanish culture including Spanish architecture, Spanish art (visual, dramatic, etc.), Spanish culture, Spanish literature, Spanish history, and Spanish travel. Because of my role as political researcher I focused primarily on the Spanish history department of the website. J.G. and Margaret's historical research stretches from the Palaeolithic Age (1.8 million years ago in 2009) to Spain in the 19th Century. There is a tab specifically dedicated to the political attributes of Spain in the 17th Century and has served as a primary source for political information regarding our presentation. What's exponentially helpful about this website is the fact that each section of history that is elaborated on is not just a broad overview that generalizes all of Spanish politics into one but rather, it focuses on each region of Spain and explains what was going on in that area. Now, it is incorrect to say that every single area of Spain is addressed simply because there is too much information. The web site zones in on the major regions such as Madrid and Toledo, and it also focuses on Spanish territories that were not actually connected to Spain literally but were possessed by Spain in the 17th Century such as Latin America, the Philippines, sections of Portugal, Brazil, Both coasts of Africa, India, and the Far East.

Greer, Margaret Rich. Art and Power in the Spectacle Plays of Calderon de la Barca. Modern Language Association. 1989.

(Art and Power) This article is about Calderon's support for the Spanish monarchy in his work. It discusses the Hapsburg's role in Spain and society and how it controls the Holy Roman Empire and therefore religious figures, like Calderon support them. When public opinion of the Spanish monarchy was going down, Calderon would write plays painting the Spanish royalty as wonderful leaders in excellent light, sometimes using ancient theater staging techniques to parallel them with dieties. He says that a true king 1.) Strength of institutions behind him (i.e. the Hapsburg empire and the catholic church) 2.) history, blood inheritance to the throne but also the glories of his ancestors, and 3.) poetry or theatrical art which have the power to transform a weak being into a figure of public dominance and powerful command essential to an "absolutist" state. This article makes the argument that Calderon dedicated imself to shoring up social values he felt to be threatened and also to express those values through the royal optic to congratulate the ineffective kings.

Kurtz, Barbara E. Illusions of Power: Calderon de la Barca, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Prohibition of Las ordenes militares. Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispanicos. 1994.

(Illusions of Power) This article talks about the religious implications Calderon's work had. Calderon was a priest, official dramatist to the court of the king, knight of the elite religio - military Order of Santiago - and he enjoyed unrivalled prestige and royal favour in Habsburg spain. Therefore, his works held certain religious status just because they were written by him. Whenever Calderon would make religious claims in his works they would be interpreted with higher importance by the people of Spain. If a character spoke against the church, even if it was an evil character, the work would become intensely observed by religious leaders of Spain as they distrusted the audience to distinguish between something the devil says and something an angel says. It was never Calderon's intent to speak against the church and the article makes the claim that Calderon was always in seamless accord with the Holy Office's power.

Malinak, Edward M. "Pedro Calderón De La Barca: Life Is a Dream by Edwin Honig. Review By:Edward M. Malinak." The Modern Language Journal 55.4 (1971): 259-60. JSTOR. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.
This article provided us with a criticism for a specific translation. It's interesting to see how one translation can be considered well written and true the original author's writing or not. This particular review states the the translator is "meticulously faithful" to the original in this English translation. Malinak goes onto state that Honig's version gives enough background along with his "proper perspective" to provide a "thorough understanding and appreciation of his (Calderon) dramatic art."Malinek focuses on the "consciousness" theme of the play and evolution of the main character and how Honig brought that theme through. He states that "Calderon's love of symmetry and artistry in creating form...", along with the "Superb symbolism" prevails". Malinak is fond of Honig's translation and gives a very distinct description as to why and the importance of what comes through. Malinak also writes a personal thanks to Honig for providing a worthy translation of Calderon's "prolific and penetrating drama" It was important to see someone approve so highly of a translation, and approve of Calderon's work versus an opinion like Voltaire that isn't fond of Spanish theater. We also get some specific ideas as to what a person looks for in a translation, especially from a reviewer who knows about the original author and his works.

"The Project Gutenberg EBook of Life Is A Dream, by Pedro Calderon De La Barca." Http:// N.p., 31 Mar. 2006. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. .

This site provided us more useful information. There is a simple but detailed description of Calderon's life and important events that happened to him. It is also another translation of Calderon's play, "Life is a Dream". The paragraphs about Calderon's life gives us a good insight into what he wanted to achieve with his work, what events in his life triggered specific writings or ideas, and how his work progressed with time and circumstances. For example, after Calderon joined the priesthood, his plays became much more overtly religious and church oriented. We also learn that most of Calderon's works were commissioned by Philip IV, making the themes of loyalty to the king and church even more comprehensible and clear. Though it is described that Calderon is had these beliefs himself, his support from the king makes Calderon's choices more obvious. This translation was also easily available for all of us to read and to have another comparison to make between different works.

Schier, Donald. "Voltaire's Criticism of Calderón." Comparative Literature 11 (1959): 340-46. JSTOR. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.
This article was helpful because it gives us an inside look on another well known author's opinion. We can get a viewpoint other than our own and help us see Calderon's works in a different way. It also helped us understand that Voltaire was not entirely fond of most literature from Spain. Along with these, there is a small comparison between the ideals of French theater vs. Spanish. Voltaire believed that French theater had moved beyond the "crudities" of Gothic theater and thought that Spanish theater was out of date. Voltaire often shortens his translations, and though the overall story comes through, there isn't the same detail or meanings portrayed in Calderon's original writings. Another useful part of this article is to get the author's outside view and opinion on Voltaire's critiques of Spanish theater as well as the author's opinions on the works of Calderon. The author discusses Voltaire's translations, thoughts, and critiques of Spanish theater and specific plays during the time; such as, "Life is a Dream" as well as other Spanish plays and other works by Calderon. We have more than one interpretation to get ideas from through this reviewer's and Voltaire's thoughts.

Week #3

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This week we wanted to focus on putting everything together. I was ill, so I wasn't in class, but Cate kindly filled me in on what I needed to do and what the goal of today was. I just needed to finish editing and annotating my few sources and finish putting in my information on the critiques and on Calderon himself. I re-read my articles to make sure I had all of the information I needed and wanted to put into my annotations and my slides. I then entered everything and was done with that portion. The next thing I wanted to work was familiarizing myself with our entire presentation process and progression of the slides.

This process has been difficult and trying, but it has also been really useful to know how my group works together and how to find our sections and making sure our topic stayed narrow and focused. I'm grateful for my group members understanding and help as well as our ability to work together fairly easily. We didn't encounter any huge problems or conflicts, and we also were able to divide up our work load right away and equally without fuss. This process had taught me a lot about big group projects and how to research and break down the topic as quickly as possible. By keeping our topic as narrow as possible, we were able to find deeper information instead of just a lot of information. This was great because we wanted to give a general overview of the Spanish Golden Age, but focus on what that meant for our playwright, Calderon, and the theater of time. I think we accomplished that to the best of our ability, and that our information was relevant and directed how we wanted it to be.

Assignment 4: Argument

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The Spanish Golden age was characterized by a drastically changing world view. In science, discoveries were being made that the Earth might not be the center of the universe, that the Sun had taken over for man as the all powerful center of everything. Man's place in the universe was now being reexamined and a new fascination of the mystical and unexplainable was taking over in Golden Age Society. The Arts and Sciences, which had been consistently connected for years, were making a split. The world of science was moving forward while the arts were remaining behind in the old Ptolemaic system. Calderon, like Milton in Protestant England, was ahead of his time in that he was exploring these new themes of man's place in a larger, mystical, unexplainable universe. Our argument is to present how Calderon reflected Golden Age themes, politics, and religious ideals back to a Golden Age audience. We will present our argument by beginning with an overview of the Spanish Golden Age timeline, then describe Calderon himself and his life. This will be to familiarize the class with the basics before going into more detail. We will first discuss politics, then relate it back to the play Life is a Dream and Calderonian theatre. We will repeat this process with religion, themes and staging, and critiques of his works. Always relating our research back to Calderon and the text we have chosen to focus on. We will conclude with brief research on comparing Calderon and Shakespeare, as an added interesting tidbit for the class to think on. We have a video to refer back to as we go as well. It features a drama class's "staging" of Life is a Dream. It's quite funny and it highlights all of the main points of our argument and presentation. It will provide a good flow and consistency to our final showing.

Week #2

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I've been thinking about the best way to find some critiques and reviews of Calderon's and other Spanish theater playwrights. I wanted to find some variety in critiques of the plays and specifically Life Is a Dream. I think it would be interesting and useful to see different modern opinions of Calderon's play as well as opinions of these critiques and reviews.

I discovered a review of Voltaire's critique's of Life Is a Dream. It was incredibly interesting to read Voltaire's opinions and ideas of Calderon and how he wasn't a fan of Spanish theater in general. Voltaire also translated some of Calderon's work. I found that his translations are often compacted and more "straight to the point" and focuses on the plot versus the wording and poetry of writings. The overall theme and idea comes through, but the reviewer states that the "tone" is different. The other review I found was a critique of a 1970 English translation. This reviewer seems to know quite a bit about Calderon and Spanish theater, and he is very pleased with the translation. He almost rejoices in the way that the translator brings through the beauty of Calderon's writing and does justice to writer himself.

It's great to know how to dig through articles and enter the correct keywords for what I want to find. Also how to read through articles or research briefly in order to find if it is about what I wanted and/or what research I was looking for.

Divide and Conquer

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Note: This assignment is not yet complete. As the group members conduct more research we will go in and add to this in more detail before it is due.

1. Based on what you've read, what contextual information must your group necessarily communicate to the class in order to help us better understand the theatrical material you plan to discuss? The story and main themes of the play, Life is a Dream. The time span of the Spanish Golden Age and the specific moment in time that we are researching, 1630s - end. Important people in politics, the arts and literature, and religion.

2. How does your topic express the philosophies, ideologies, political circumstances, and/or social movements occurring in the specific time and place you are investigating? The autos sacrementales plays expressed a surging interest in the mystical, explaining the unexplainable, and finding hidden meaning in symbols. Carly will be researching criticisms of Calderon's work; she has just located a critique written by Voltaire and will continue to research this topic. Calderon was raised in a family of means, suggesting that he was one of the upper class who created theatre. The Habsburg family was a major power in the Holy Roman empire and religious fervor was abundant; this directly conflicts with the new emerging interest in the idea that the Earth might not be the center of the universe. People's understanding of their place in the universe was changing from an older order of religion to a new age of scholarly thinking. Also, Rebecca is working on how Calderon was influenced by Elizabethan Shakespeare, specifically Shakespeare. Although Calderon is Shakespeare's contemporary, he alludes to multiple themes from Shakespeare's work- woman dressed as men, the idea of the supernatural, the themes of forgiveness. This shows an outside influence on his work./strong>

3. Given that you only have 20 minutes to present, what big ideas/contextual elements will you have to leave out? We should leave out anything that we cannot directly connect back to a theme or idea we see reflected in Calderon and his works, particularly in Life is a Dream. In our research and note taking we should write down what we find in our readings, then immediately located textual evidence either in the play, or in a writing about Calderon, to go with that newfound knowledge.

Presentation Style

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We will create a powerpoint presentation in which we will each have our own slides to create based on our individual research. We will then connect our ideas to create a presentation that flows smoothly while we transition from one topic to another. We will present images to give the class an idea of what Spanish Golden age theatre looked like, provide quotes from the text of the play Life is a Dream and compare/contrast specific lines from multiple translations, and connect the play to its social and political contexts of its time. There is a lot of detailed information about this age, we have narrowed down time frame to about 1630s to 1660s. However, we have already done the basics of the "Divide and Conquer" exercise by dividing up what specifics we will each research surrounding the play Life is a Dream and the years during which it was written and existed. There will be plenty of information to fill 20 minutes, and likewise limiting ourselves to only 20 minutes with make us keep our topics specific but brief. The powerpoint will allow us to be clear, concise, and brief.

We are also taking into account that further research could change this in the long run. We might come across something we can actually present in person to the class. We might find an audio example of specific music used at the time. We do not know yet because we cannot know yet. Further research will reveal all in good time.

Addendum to Assignment One

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Spanish Golden Age Brief Overview:

Between 15th and 17th Century (1492-1659 roughly). The Spanish Golden Age was a period of Spanish history when artists and literature bloomed. The Golden Age coincides directly with the rise and fall of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty. The Habsburgs ruled during the Spanish Golden age. (Additionally, they ruled in Austria as well). They were incredible supporters of the arts in both Spain and Austria.
The Golden Age began with the successes of Columbus. His journeys to the new world known as Reconquista (Reconquest) inspired the Spanish culture and placed Spain on the political map as the leader of the new world and the forerunner in discovering new lands and unearthing the globe. The Golden Age ended in 1659 with the Treaty of the Pyrenees, which was a political settlement between the French and Spanish cultures. The death of Calderon (1681) is also considered the death of El Siglo de Oro, which basically means the Spanish Renaissance, the thriving of arts and humanities in Spain.

Similarities between Shakespeare and Calderon:

Shakespeare and Calderon: Both writing around same time, use music to help create dramatic tension; Calderon uses Shakespeare's themes (Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Macbeth); Both write with metaphors; both allow royalty to speak in long monologues that show off how smart they are or how much they love war.

Differences in Writing Styles (Shakespeare/Calderon):

Shakespeare was written in English, and from the Folios and Quartos, we could see how editors have edited/changed his work over the years. With Calderon, his work is translated so there are many variations, all with subtle changed. Example: life is a dream or life's a dream. First line: hippogryphs or horses.

Differences Between Spanish Theater and Theater Today:

Theatre in Calderon's time was meant to be spectacle. He was commissioned by Phillip IV to write plays for the court. Today, theatre is more publicly available, being shown in smaller theatre houses across the world with themes and styles varying from play to play, from the realism of modern american theatre to the more outlandish German cabaret style. In Calderon's day theatre was taking place in three major locations: 1) the Palace of the Buen Retirio built on the outskirts of Madrid in the 1630s. By 1635 (the date of Life Is A Dream) there were the other two locations: 2) the "salon de reinos [hall of arms] in the palace began to be used for performances. 3) the "estanque grande" [large lake] and an island in its middle were used for more splendid stagings. Other major difference is the use of specific theatrical conventions that are not common practice today - such as the use of "emblematic staging" where symbols and visuals cues through tableau, revealed by pulling back a curtain, were used to convey a message to an audience who would have known what they meant. For example, an almond tree was symbolic of those who mature at too young an age. A peacock was for pride.

Life is a Dream

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We chose to pursue a deeper analysis of Pedro Calderon De La Barca's play Life is a Dream. Calderon De La Barca's play was first published at the end of the Spanish Golden Age in 1635. (Golden Age ended in 1659). Life is a Dream is a philosophical view on the significance of human existence and the mystery of life on Earth. During the end of the Spanish Golden Age (mid seventeenth century) Spain was experiencing an incredible decline of power and possession around the globe. This fall of the Spanish Empire will supplement and give interesting insight to our observation and analysis of Life is a Dream. We agreed unanimously that we wanted to find a specific play and use that as our focus for our project. Rebecca Leiner discovered Life is a Dream and shared it with us. We were all interested initially because Pedro Calderon De La Barca was frequently compared to Shakespeare in his style of writing and because this particular play was written at the end of the Spanish Golden Age, we thought it would be interesting to also analyze the fall of the Spanish Golden Age. We each assumed our own responsibilities. Rebecca is observing the texts itself. She is taking several translations of the play and analyzing and comparing them as well as looking at the comparison to Shakespeare. Caleb is looking at the political aspect of Spain in the seventeenth century. Cate is researching the Baroque style theatre and the performative aspects of Calderon's drama within that style. Katie is researching the religious attributes of Spanish culture during the Spanish Golden Age and Carly is researching the playwright and the origin of his style.

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