I find myself once again at the beginning of the new school year, one of my favorite times of year. There are clean notebooks waiting for you to fill them with facts, knowledge, and doodles. Summer hair is to be cut in anticipation of the new academic load, a room to be throughly cleaned, a special outfit to be picked out, all for the first day. In short it is the moment in which there are many possibilities waiting on the horizon.
Two weeks ago I started the second year of my master’s program. Last year I took the bulk of the courses and only have two classes this fall, to attend two lecture series, write my thesis and I will have completed all of the requirements for the program. When written in this form, I feel as if there is nothing to be done; however, I know that all of these tasks will take their fair share of time. The beauty is that I currently feel like a veteran, able to show new students around the facilities and can focus all of my energies on these tasks instead of acclimating myself to a new system.
My two purple notebooks are finally being put to use for these last two courses. (Yes, I still take hand written notes!) The first course focuses on the history of the city of Madrid from its original inhabitants, its expansion in the 17th century to its present form. I have found the first few classes to be especially interesting because Professor Pinto helps us to map the ancient city onto the one in which we live. I am hoping to write my final paper on the Convent Encarnación, founded my Margaret of Austria, (the wife of Philip III). She modeled her foundation on that of Juana of Austria in Las Descalzas Reales. Thus I am hoping to use this project as a means for comparison to my thesis topic (For more information on my thesis visit: Las Descalzas Reales).
The second course deals with the composition of the Spanish monarchy, which is a complex topic if we consider that it comprised of many different kingdoms (reinados) all vying for power and prestige. For this course, the final project involves studying one aspect of the Escorial (For more history see this post). From what I understand, each student picks a part of the building, be it an illustrious figure, a piece of art, or its actual construction, and together we create a composite study of the Monastery that we will present in person in January. I am hoping to study the union of the palace-convent, since in many cases Las Descalzas Reales was considered the female version of the Escorial. I am clearly taking full advantage of these two courses to provide context and complementary information for my thesis.
Although only two weeks in, I have a feeling that these will be two fabulous courses and that I will not complete my program, but also fill my two purple notebooks!!