CSUN students are gaining an analytical view of the cultural aspects that define contemporary Spanish society in Professor Eduardo Barros-Grela’s Spanish Civilization course.
“I want this to be a different type of course,” said Barros-Grela. “Usually, Spanish civilization courses start and end focusing on history. I blend in contemporary issues so that the students can relate to the Spanish culture.”
To ensure that the students comprehend every aspect of the culture, Barros-Grela divides the semester into two parts.
During the first part of the semester, he introduces controversial topics about the contemporary population in Spain.
During the second half of the semester, Barros-Grela introduces classical, medieval, Renaissance and 20th century Spanish themes.
To make sure students do the required reading, Barros-Grela puts several articles on the class web page, and requires students to post their responses on the class blog.
“The Internet component works well,” said Barros-Grela. “The online assignments provide material and back-up for our in-class discussions.”
Hetny Trujillo, senior Spanish major, said she enjoys this class because it is not traditional in the way it is structured.
“We learn the history of Spain through discussion of different topics, movies and Internet sources,” Trujillo said.
Barros-Grela, who holds a Ph.D. in contemporary Spanish literature, said he does not like to input ideas into his students’ minds, but likes students to think and give him the answers.
“I would recommend this professor to others because he is a really good teacher,” said Carlos Amaya, senior Spanish major. “This is a fun class, and I better understand the Spanish culture.”
One of the main concepts discussed in class is the double identity of Spain, based on the proposed separation of the country into four different regions.
“The separation of the country into four different regions is a form of corruption of globalization,” Barros-Grela said. “The outcome of the contradictions (is) a definite distinction between social, political and linguistic changes.”
Trujillo said the class has made him see that Spain and the United States have a lot of cultural similarities.
“The most interesting thing I’ve learned in this course is that, although Spain is one nation, there are many cultures within that nation,” Trujillo said. “Not everyone identifies with just one (culture), similar to what happens in the U.S.”