2010 Bard Travel Abroad

This year, the Bard Travel Abroad Program is taking place during Spring Break rather than at the end of the semester, as it had in the past.   By tying the experience of study abroad explicitly to the on-going Survey course, it will now be connected more closely to the regular curriculum .

The destination this year is Spain and the trip will be led by Professors Andrew Morrall and Jeffrey Collins. The location was chosen in part because the arts of Iberia are dealt with only peripherally within the arc of the survey course. The study trip will thus allow close, first-hand study of some of the most spectacular monuments of European culture, and round out many of the themes of the course.

Starting out in southern Spain, the class will spend a few days exploring Seville and Cordoba, the centers of ancient Islamic civilization. They will study its remains, from the ruins of Madinat al-Zahra, the legendary palace complex of the Umayyad caliphs, to the magnificent Mezquita, the ancient Mosque, of Cordoba, converted into a cathedral after the Reconquista of the Christian kings.  A theme of the trip is to study the monuments of a medieval culture in which Muslims, Jews and Christians enjoyed conditions of co-existence and relative mutual tolerance.  Seville’s Alcazar, built by Pedro the Cruel, is testimony to the adoption by a Christian ruler of a Muslim high court style.  Islamic influence is equally apparent in the architecture of three of the four remaining Sephardic synagogues (one in Cordoba, two in Toledo) that will be visited. 

The remainder of the trip will be centered on Madrid, with all the attendant cultural riches of that capital city.  It will also include excursions to Toledo, Philip II’s palace of El Escorial, and (optionally) Aranjuez, the summer palace of the Bourbon monarchs.  This part follows later periods of Spanish history, from medieval and Renaissance Toledo, the Age of Discovery and Spain’s “Golden Age” under the Hapsburg Emperors, to its long period of decline into ancien regime grandeur in the 18th century. 

During the trip, the students will be asked to prepare and collect materials towards a digital presentation on a theme within one of five chronological periods covered by the course, which they will research more fully on their return and present to their peers during exam week.

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