HEC Student Competition, Third Place: Madison Stehle on History & Guernica

This spring, we held our first Humanities & Ethics Center Student Competition. We invited Drury students to submit a reflection, of no more than 300 words, on a record of the human experience that has affected them.  
A “record” here could come from any of the following categories: books,  films, essays, historical objects, religious texts & objects,  artworks & digital media, languages and cultures, authors, philosophers, religious or historical figures, monuments, or memorials.
During four Mondays of the summer, we will be publishing one of the four winning entries on our blog. Below is Madison Stehle’s reflection on a history class in Spanish and Picasso’s Guernica. Madison tied for third place with Olivia Thompson, who wrote on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s poem “La Marioneta,” ($30 each). Additional winners include Bre Legan, whose discussion of the film Her who won first place ($75) and Sarah Fuller, whose “Layers of History,” which won second place ($50). 
We are proud to present their work to our readers, and delighted to have such strong students in the Humanities at Drury.

Third Place (tie): Madison Stehle  

I had always hated history.

At least, that’s what I thought as I was signing up for a class about 20th century Spain. My mind kept reeling back to the miserable experiences I had in high school – memorizing dates that meant nothing to me or regurgitating statistics and chronologies. Groaning, I realized that this wouldn’t be just any history class, being upper level and taught not in English, but in Spanish.

Little did I know, this would be quite different from what I had experienced in the past. My days whirled by in a frenzy of civil war songs, the spirit of the beehive, and food-rationing techniques. We read banned literature and analyzed El Generalissimo’s propaganda posters. I was not memorizing dates, but somehow, I still learned when World War II started and when Francisco Franco died. We saw the evolution of art as people became more politically involved and as globalization began to take hold. We felt the horrors of war and effects of censorship and isolationism. We saw people unite, celebrating humanity and rejoicing in diversity. Evidently, history was not the dry, useless study I had made it out to be.

One particular class period was spent entirely on the painting Guernica by Picasso. It was so full of pain, so universally recognizable despite depicting the bombing of a small town in the Basque Country. As I sat there, staring at the projection of the mural, I understood why people fight for the humanities. Human history is infinitely more complex than mere chronology. This world and the people in it cannot be understood without looking through the lenses of art and literature, local politics and international affairs, or religion and class. We owe it to ourselves to give this world another look and see where we arrive.

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