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.


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Hi all,

Good job on this assignment. A little feedback:

Question 1 - It's good to touch on all of these different aspects in the presentation, but you'll have to be selective in what you discuss. "Important people in politics, the arts, and religion" would be huge in and of itself. Are there some specific people that it would be useful to discuss within your time frame as they relate to your play?

Question 2 - Great specifics here! I'm glad you're getting into some of the details about the politics of the time. The Voltaire review sounds interesting, but remember that this is someone from Enlightenment France writing about Spanish Golden Age, so there might, perhaps, be different agendas between he and Calderon. Also, I want you to be careful in relying too heavily on the Shakespeare aspect for two reasons: first, the similarities you mention here can be found between many different playwrights in this time period. Is there evidence to suggest that Calderon was directly influenced by Shakespeare (had his plays even circulated to Spain yet)? The answer might be yes, but be sure that you're looking at specific academic articles to support this claim. Second, there is a problematic tendency in theatre history writing in which scholars instinctively try to find links between Shakespeare and all other playwrights. This is because the English-speaking world likes to hold Shakespeare up as the pinnacle of artistic genius; thus, we make it so every other writer has to compare with him. So, this is a long way of saying that you should consider if linking Shakespeare to Calderon is actually going to be effective in helping you examine the play. Does it give you insight into Spanish Golden Age theatre? Does it illuminate new aspects of the play text? Does it help us understand something new?

Question 3 - I think it's great that you're being so clear about gearing your information towards the play that you're discussing. That's absolutely the right way to go, but don't feel like you have to hold yourself to that 100%. It might be useful to have some defining information on the Spanish Golden Age that doesn't necessarily pertain to the play itself.(what ushered it in? Why did it end? What were its major characteristics? These can be brief, but it's important in terms of allowing us to locate ourselves in relation to this time period).

Great work on this. Let me know if you have any more questions.


Hi everyone,

I just wanted to make one clarifying comment. I had missed your addendum to the first post (which was fantastic and exactly what I was looking for, by the way!) before I commented on your Divide and Conquer assignment, so I didn't realize that you'd already done a lot of the leg work on the Shakespeare/Calderon comparison. The specifics you give in the earlier post are actually quite useful, and I didn't realize that you were summarizing for the purposes of this assignment - so, in fact, talking about the Shakespeare/Calderon comparison will be perfectly acceptable and probably very useful! I'm sorry, Rebecca, if my comment caused you any undue stress over your contribution to the project - though it would, perhaps be helpful for us to talk through academic sources you're using to discuss the Shakespeare/Calderon debate.

Anyway, apologies for any confusion.


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This page contains a single entry by jack0542 published on November 15, 2012 10:56 AM.

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