A Master’s in the Books

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How have two years flown by so quickly? I can still remember sitting in EP’s office, filling the official paperwork to begin my masters while she asked me about my thoughts for my final Master’s project. At the time I had no idea what I wanted to write about, but I knew that one course would help me find my way.

 

I didn’t have to wait too long and in my first semester I fell in love with the doors of Las Descalzas Reales. Flash forward two years and I can not only tell EP the theme of my final project, but its conclusions, something far more interesting than simply a topic. I know that when I first presented the project of using doors to study a convent, most thought that I was crazy. However, I had a wonderful guide to help me channel my crazy, MJ. Without hesitations she took on my advising my project, stating that from my initial project it was clear that I would dive deeper than just looking at doors.

 

Little by little the project about doors began to transform into an in-depth study to the nuns’ mental conception of the various spaces of their convent. By focusing each chapter on one of the three properties that the French theorist Henri Lefebvre (1974) recommends for understanding any society’s space: spatial comportment, decoration, and use, we were able to better understand how these nuns moved through and conceived of the various spaces at their disposition. Each phase prompted further reflections and analysis, leading to the theory of that the nuns’ divided their spaces into two separate entities, in a fashion that emulates the binary code.

 

Three weeks ago I had the pleasure of turning in the final project titled: De la puerta hacia el convento: Una approximación a la utilización del espacio en el Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales Madrid (s. XVII). I use the word pleasure, because in the end I was, and still am, really proud of the final product. I am grateful to my Team of Correctors, who spent countless hours helping correct and “castellanize” my Spanish so that these complex concepts made sense to my readers. Each shared their unique perspective, causing me to reconsider initial findings or to find a clearer way to express what I believed to be true, which in the end created a final project that I am proud to have presented.

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Going into the defense I was not nervous; instead, it was my chance to speak with academics about what I had been working on in libraries, archives, and my bedroom. We all know how much I like to talk and the 15 minutes passed incredibly quickly. The Tribunal comprised of three professors from the university, praised my work for its risk and execution. They also were complimentary of my efforts to avoid it being incoherent in Spanish, especially since two believed that I would turn in a final project in English. (To my knowledge, that was never an option). Since I was the last one to present, I did not have to wait long before they announced the final grades. And just like that, my masters in the History of the Spanish Monarchy at UAM has come to an end.

 

Many, myself included, thought that I would move home as soon as I finished the Masters. And yet, I am still happily here in Madrid. Since I have been granted paperwork through June 2015, I have decided to stay put. Simply said, I love my life here and see no reason to move while I am happy and successful. That being said, I do not want to sit around like a bump on a log and just swim because I know that part of my recipe for success these past years has been the ability to grow as a person in every aspect of my life: athletic, academic, and social. Therefore, this year I will continue my study into the spatial comportment of Las Descalzas Reales by considering manuscripts and other primary sources that I did not have time to consult during the thesis process, hoping to find conclusions worthy of an academic article. I will also be translating my thesis into English, to have a sample-writing piece for when I decide to apply to PhD programs (Feel free to ask for a copy around January). To compliment this work, I still have the opportunity to talk about Spanish Art and History on my tours with Madrid Museum Tours. Furthermore, I am taking a class at the Prado titled: The History of Beauty, but more on that in a later post. As for the other two pillars of life, both will be discussed in future posts, but I believe it is safe to say that the equilibrium of my life has been maintained, even though the Masters has officially ended.

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