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Teaching Galdós

by

Rhian Davies

Teaching Galdós's work to current university students is a rewarding challenge. The prolificacy of the author, his modernity and the openness of his work have resulted in a wealth of critical material and a wide range of different interpretations. It is my contention that his work deserves an innovative approach, particularly if students are to be encouraged to engage with an author, who, coming from the nineteenth century, might be initially labelled as 'wordy', 'outdated' and 'incomprehensible'.

Information about my teaching of Galdós at Level 2 (second year, focussing upon the novels Doña Perfecta, Tristana and Torquemada en la hoguera) can be found at http://www.llas.ac.uk/resources/goodpractice.aspx?resourceid=2593 (‘New Ways of Teaching Literature’, commissioned and peer-reviewed by the LLAS Subject Centre, 2006).

Over the years I have become increasingly fascinated by the advantages of using film to teach Galdós's work. I gave a presentation on my teaching of Buñuel's film in conjunction with my teaching of the novel Tristana ('Teaching Literature with Film') at the LLAS Subject Centre's 'Routes into reading' symposium. See above and also http://www.llas.ac.uk/events/archive/2358 (where there is a downloadable powerpoint presentation).

At Level 3 (final year), in 2003 I embarked with Claire Allam (a Producer from the Learning and Teaching Services department of the University of Sheffield) upon the formidable challenge of getting students to select sequences from two of Galdós's works that exist in both novel and play form and turning them into films. Here are some examples of the films. As you will see, some of them were extremely imaginative and include a Hollyoaks/ telenovela version of Realidad, the suicide of Realidad transferred into a modern-day news report, a 'Chat show' version of El abuelo (which involved a 3-camera/ live TV style shoot) plus Realidad's Federico portrayed as a drug addict. What we've not yet transferred into flashvideo include the students' (sepia) film noir version of Realidad and Federico being knocked down by a tram in the centre of Sheffield!...

http://www.shef.ac.uk/learningmedia/flashvideo/galdos08group1.html
http://www.shef.ac.uk/learningmedia/flashvideo/galdos08group2.html
http://www.shef.ac.uk/learningmedia/flashvideo/galdos08group3.html
http://www.shef.ac.uk/learningmedia/flashvideo/galdos08group4.html
http://www.shef.ac.uk/learningmedia/flashvideo/galdos09group1.html
http://www.shef.ac.uk/learningmedia/flashvideo/galdos09group2.html

On this module see also http://www.shef.ac.uk/lets/techno/examples/galdos.html.

Teaching Galdos's work with film is a fascinatingly stimulating experience and it is certainly something that the students enjoy. As well as gaining valuable employability skills (in problem solving, team building, project management etc.) through the filmmaking process, in producing their own film versions, students come to engage closely with the works and have a lot of fun in the process. Here are some examples of the feedback we've received:

"I think it made his work a lot easier to understand as we brought it to life. Also you had to analyse each line of the dialogue to decide how you wanted it acted, so this made me understand it more."

"I was able to look at his work through another medium and concentrating on one scene made me understand the characters a lot more."

"A great 'creative' module, a chance to do something different." "I really enjoyed this module - very challenging and good fun." "Loved it."

"Usually I find literature quite boring, but doing something exciting with Galdós’s work really interested me [...] This has definitely been my favourite module that I’ve studied at University."

If you have any queries or would like more information about these modules, please email rhian.davies@sheffield.ac.uk.

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The Pérez Galdós Editions Project