Antología Abierta de Literatura Hispánica (The Introduction to Hispanic Literature) is the brainchild of Dr. Julie Ward, an assistant professor of twentieth- and twenty-first-century Latin American literature at University of Oklahoma.
Ward said the anthology was inspired by The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature project Robin DeRosa spearheaded in her classroom. When she saw that text, she thought, “That’s exactly what I wanted to do.”
In the fall 2016 semester, she embarked on a project in her Spanish-language literature course, Introduction to Hispanic Literature and Culture, in which groups of four to five students selected ten texts from the fifteenth century to the twentieth century to include in a critical edition.
The included texts span different genres of literature, with authors ranging from Christopher Columbus to Horacio Quiroga. Ward and a graduate student “research guide” had pre-established lists of texts students could review and choose from.
For each work, the student groups compiled context in the form of an introduction, at least ten annotations on the text about style, references and colloquialisms, an image and a biography about the author–their style, milieux and how the work relates to the rest of their works, and a bibliography. The texts, introductions and all other contextual elements of the book are all in Spanish.
The content of the critical edition was developed in the class, but the work on the text didn’t end there. In the subsequent semester, two students were paid to take the critical edition, verify the facts and public domain licenses, and format it using Pressbooks. Alice Barrett, who is being paid by the OU Office of Undergraduate Research, is one of these students. The other student, Karlee Bradberry, is an honors research assistant, funded through the OU Honors College Research Assistant Program.
”I had a great experience with the group work aspect of the project,” said Barrett, who said Ward emphasized group dynamics and started class with an article about a study Google had done about creating groups of people that work efficiently and creatively.
“For me what was most helpful was Dr. Ward’s organizational skills. It was very clear what we were expected to do.”
Barrett said she learned a lot from the project, including how to do research to find information, how to leverage library resources, and how to split the workload in a group. (She noted you have to let people do the work that’s assigned to them.)
Projects like this “will be successful if the group dynamic is successful and everyone knows what they’re going to be working on,” she said.
She recommends that future instructors considering similar projects make sure their students find sources in the public domain and cite their sources thoroughly and correctly.
After working on the project Barrett said she feels more confident about taking on big projects as well as writing in Spanish. In her work after the class, she edited and verified sources for “Hombres necios que acusáis” by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of the first feminist writers in Spanish literature. That experience really influenced her perspective.
“I have a perspective on Spanish literature I didn’t have before. It changes you.”
When released, the book will be appropriate for university Spanish and Latin American literature courses as well as AP Spanish students in high school.
Currently the book is receiving support from the Rebus Community to create a replicable assignment that will allow Ward’s peers at other universities to do similar projects in their classes to expand the text (view the assignment); to find Spanish speakers to edit and proofread the book; and to enlist faculty to beta-test the book in their courses and provide feedback to Ward on improvements and revisions.
- Look to your peers for inspiration! You may find their projects can be replicated in your classroom.
- Inform your students if they must find public domain sources, and if possible, direct them toward some repositories. Teach them how to properly cite these sources up front.
- Survey funding options such as research grants and work-study programs in order to obtain ongoing student help with the project after the semester is complete.
- Set clear expectations with your students: What are the final deliverables they need to submit?
- Be organized. Take your students through the project timeline when you first start out, and try to stick to it!
- Conduct regular check-ins with students to assess the group dynamics. Use this time to track the project’s progress and ensure that everyone is aware of what is going on and where the project is headed.