Dr Rosa Vidal, a lecturer at Queen Mary University London, led an authentic seminar on miracles in medieval Spanish literature. Not only had Dr Vidal led this exact session with her second year students just before lockdown’s effects on education, we even got the opportunity to have discussions in small groups (albeit over Zoom) in true seminar style. Initially, Dr Vidal explained and asked what was meant by ‘medieval’ and ‘Spanish literature’, and from this, we were able to establish a timeline and brief history; the differences between literature as we know it today compared to medieval (spanning circa. 5th to the 15th century), as well as how Gonzalo de Berceo was the first Spanish author who we can put a name to his works. Despite having never been a student of Spanish (rather one of French and English literature), I still found the main discussion of how religion, miracles and saints are represented and permeate Berceo’s works extremely fascinating. Reading translations of The Pregnant Woman Saved by the Virgin and The Devout Thief brought up links between miracles and saints with reform, respect, a reinforcement and affirmation of faith and justice. This can teach us all about the role and opinion of saints in the Middle Ages. As a result, I feel extremely lucky to have participated in this and experienced an authentic university seminar, so many thanks to Dr Rosa Vidal, as well as Hollie Eaton and the others in my group!
By Jolina Bradley