Faculty member rejuvenated by scholarly adventure in Spain
The lazy days of summer is only an expression for many of MacEwan University’s faculty, staff and students. They spend the hottest months of the year volunteering, travelling, researching, creating art and culture, and more. Before the Fall 2015 term kicks off, we wanted to share a little of what some of them are working on.
Marco Katz was sad to leave Spain. He was returning from two glorious months in 40-degree Spanish heat—one month spent enjoying a vacation with his wife, and the other month engaged in an intellectual adventure with scholars from around the world.
“I was sad to be leaving, but I was excited about coming home,” says the English faculty member.
In June and July, Marco participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute for College and University Teachers—the theme of which was “The Alhambra and Spain’s Islamic Past” and naturally, the 25 selected scholars were invited to Granada to work on their projects.
For his proposed project, Marco wanted to explore the identity of Spanish Jews through their music and literature.
“Everyone remembers 1492 as the year Columbus sailed, but it was also the year the Jews were kicked out of Spain,” he explains. “Muslims were kicked out later, and the final date of their expulsion was 1614.” Historically, Granada is known as the last location in Spain where Muslims, Jews and Christians all lived together, and that’s where the scholars gathered to work, study and explore the history and culture related to the topic. The medieval-era Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a focal point of this history.
“Discussions would begin over breakfast and continue on to midnight,” says Marco, saying the days started early and keeping on top of the vast amount of reading assignments consumed any free time. However, after multiple special access visits to the Alhambra, “I feel like it was the first time I’ve ever seen the Alhambra.”
But all good things must come to an end. Marco and the other scholars presented their projects and returned home—many with papers they will publish or syllabi they will teach.
“It was like being a student again,” he says, “where the other students are 24 other scholars and they’re from all different places.”
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Read more from our “How I Spent My Summer” series: