Hum Update: Week 3

Week three and the first paper of the new Hum curriculum have finally passed. The stress of the paper greatly outshined the week’s curriculum but things nevertheless still chugged along. On Monday, February 11, Assistant Professor of English and Humanities Lucía Martínez Valdivia lectured on theatre as a method of evangelization in colonial Mexico. Because the Bible and much of Catholic services were in Latin, theatre was used to help tell Biblical stories to the Mexica people. Students read two dramatic works: the full length play Sacrifice of Isaac and the shorter Loa to the Divine Narcissus (loa means prologue). Martínez Valdivia also provided background on prominent seventeenth-century writer Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the author of Loa to the Divine Narcissus and the readings for both Wednesday, February 13 and for Friday, February 15. De la Cruz was a nun, and she produced a large body of writings over the course during her life at the convent.

For Wednesday, students read de la Cruz’s “First I Dream,” a long and complicated poem. The poem follows the quest of the soul for knowledge. It employs the traditionally convoluted Baroque poetic style, which made it a dense and long read. Professor of Spanish and Humanities Ariadna García-Bryce gave the lecture on Baroque poetics and how de la Cruz’s poetry compares to her European counterparts.

As in the first week, there was no lecture on Friday. First year students across campus enjoyed an extra hour of sleep and access to the morning bagel supply in Commons. According to legend, a few responsible students used their extra hour to work on the paper. Three more de la Cruz pieces were assigned for conference readings.

The first paper of the semester was due on Saturday, February 16 at 5:00 p.m.. There were three prompts: one on the codices from the first week, one on the monoliths statues found at the Templo Mayor, and one on the flower songs. The paper was expected to be 1500–1800 words and reference both the readings and the associated lectures. Without SparkNotes to use for support and inspiration, a few students expressed panic about their paper. There was some comfort found in the knowledge that Hum professors hadn’t read any papers on this material yet, so expectations were likely low.

Personally, I was excited for this week because our readings were in a physical book. Besides the Sor Juana readings, every reading for the Mexico City unit is a digital e-reserve reading. I dislike reading on my computer, so I printed out the first few readings and quickly racked up $20 in printing expenses. I stopped printing my readings after that. Not a big deal, but a little inconvenient. I also really enjoyed the de la Cruz readings and our conference discussions. I’m looking forward to next week when we study the Mexican revolution.

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