North Island College Spring 2023

Special Topic: Southern Spain -- A Meeting Of Four Worlds: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Indigenous, 711-1614 CE

Day/Time:  May 15 - June 28, 2023

Location Spain Field School 2023

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

E-Mail: dan.hinmansmith@nic.bc.ca

North Island College is honoured to acknowledge the traditional territories of the combined 35 First Nations of the Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw and Coast Salish traditions, on whose traditional and unceded territories the college's campuses are situated.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's final report calls for 94 actions toward restoring a balanced relationship between indigenous peoples and settler communities in this country.

Course Description

Those who would dare are invited to step into the North Island College time machine.  Walk the streets of ancient Pompeii.  Contemplate the accomplishments of Incan Civilization from the heights of Machu Picchu.  Listen for the sound of the Minotaur below as you stand in the palace at Knossos.  This course combines intensive study of one historical theme or civilization with a two-to-three-week international Field School.  Typically, Travels in Time will only be offered in the Spring semester.

Course Content

The lands that are now Spain experienced intensive and complex interactions in the near millennium from the early 8th to the 17th centuries between peoples of the three Abraham religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Though not without conflict, the unprecedented coexistence between the three religions supported cultural tolerance and a shared cultural identity that saw Medieval Spain flourish during the early part of this era.  The history of these three worlds profoundly shaped Spain and is etched upon its physical and cultural landscape today.

The 15th century, however, saw the end of the relationship between the Abrahamic religions, culminating in the ethnic cleansing of Spanish Jews and Muslims.  The conquest of the Iberian Peninsula and the expulsion of the Jews from Ferdinand and Isabella's new unified Catholic state set the stage for the beginning of Spain's "Age of Discovery" and Spain's relationship with the indigenous peoples of the Americas -- a pivotal moment in the history of European colonization.

Our encounter with the indigenous theme (the fourth world) will largely be filtered through the stories of the conquistadors and imperial representations.  We will, however, attempt to find traces of the lived experiences of those indigenous people who were taken to 16th century Spain and will continually ask how an appreciation for Andalusia as the fulcrum of an emergent Spanish empire might shape our understanding of the landscape and culture in which we will be embedded.  An added challenge here will be to make connections between Southern Spain and the world beyond its borders.  Thus the Virgin of Guadalupe became not just a patron saint for Columbus and the conquistadors, but also the direct model of Mexico's Virgin of Guadalupe.

The course will encourage students not only to learn about the Spanish colonial story but to place themselves in relationship to that history.  There are very direct connections between 16th-century Spain and the history and geography of our part of Canada.  We live but 25 kilometers from islands named by 18th-century Spanish mariners after Cortes and Malinche (part of the unceded territories of the Homalco, Tla'amin and Klahoose First Nations), while our province is named in an indirect way after Christopher Columbus.  Moreover, the history under consideration here is global rather than merely Andalusian or Extremaduran in nature.

The Southern Spain Field School will provide students with a prism through which to interpret Spanish history and challenge them to assess their own experiences as a visitor in contemporary Spain against the backdrop of that history.  Students will interrogate the continuing legacies and representations of a multi-layered history within Spain itself but also define themselves, in essence, as a fifth world.  Students will reflect on how their own lives and perspectives connect to the history under study and how those connections manifest themselves through travel experiences on the ground in today's Spain.

Course Format And Technology

HIS 205 CVR1:  This face-to-face course is one of three courses connected to the NIC Spain Field School 2023

Course Textbook And Resources

Spain Field School Brightspace Course website (free access to students registered in the course, via your MyNIC account)

There are no mandatory texbooks for this course.  Readings and other course resources will be posted on the course website.

Learning Outcomes

This course is designed to:

1)  Provide students with an integrated understanding of a particular global culture or theme.

2)  Push students to analyze important and challenging texts and to assess the connections between those works and the civilizations in which they were produced.

3)  Help students to further develop their critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills.

4)  Encourage students to participate within a learning community and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of an intensive, collaborative seminar model.

Tentative Schedule

Tuesday, May 2: Academic Warm-up 1  (Optional)

This session is optional, but it will be helpful to start wrapping our heads around the concepts

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively In Spanish History In The News (711-1614 CE): Dan's All-Stars.  You are welcome to take notes on any of this material and then include these as part of your Field School Notes.

Listening Assignment:

"Al-Andalus: The Legacy," Sunday Feature, BBC Radio 3, August 25, 2021.  (44 mins)

Tuesday, May 9: Academic Warm-up 2  (Optional)

This session is optional, but it will be helpful to start wrapping our heads around the concepts.  You should take a few notes on "Ornament Of The World" as part of your Field School Notes.

Viewing Assignment:

"Ornament Of The World," PBS, 2019 (116 mins.)

Ornament Of The World Study Guide

Optional Extras:

"The Invention Of Spain, Episode 1," BBC Radio 4, August 24, 2015.

"The Invention Of Spain, Episode 2," BBC Radio 4, August 25, 2015.

"The Invention Of Spain, Episode 3," BBC Radio 4, August 26, 2015.

Monday, May 15: Departure For Spain

Tuesday-Wednesday, May 16-17: Seville

Seville Cathedral

Archivo De Indias

Gold Tower

Useful Links:


Thursday-Saturday, May 18-20: Trujillo

Jerez De Los Caballeros

Casa Vasco Nunez De Balboa Museum

Pizarro's House Museum

Guadalupe Monastery

Roman Theater at Merida

Possible Video:  "The Search For El Dorado," Conquistadors, PBS, 2001.  (55 mins)

Useful Links:


Guadalupe Monastery

Jerez De Los Caballeros

Other Extremadura Sites

Reading Assignment:

Michael Wood, "Chapter 5: El Dorado: The Journey Of Francisco Orellana," Conquistadors (Berkeley: California, 2000): 186-229.

Optional Extras:

The Search For El Dorado, Conquistadors, PBS, 2001.  (55 mins)

Bernat Hernandez, "The Cortes Conquest: The Fall Of Tenochtitlan," National Geographic History Magazine (May/June 2016): 62-73.

Sunday-Tuesday, May 21-23: Seville

Royal Alcazar

Jewish Quarter

Plaza De Espana And Maria Luisa Park

Triana Quarter

Fine Arts Museum

Powerpoint Presentation:

"Not A City But A World": Seville, 711-1614 CE.  This slide show offers a brief overview of Seville's history and information about specific historic sites.

Useful Links:


Reading Assignment:

  Seville City Council, "Seville, 500 Years Later," Google Arts And Culture.

  "Life In Seville In 1519," Google Arts And Culture.

Seville City Council, "The Royal Alcazar Of Seville And The Americas," Google Arts And Culture.

Seville City Council, "A Walk Through The Royal Alcazar In Seville," Google Arts And Culture.

  Lauren Kilroy-Ewbank, "Alejo Fernandez, 'Virgin Of The Navigators,'" Smarthistory.

"500 Years Ago: Pope Gives Permission To Conquer Indigenous People," CBC Tapestry, June 19, 2016.

Optional Extras:

Browse extensively in the Doctrine Of Discovery Discussion Topic

Browse extensively in the 500th Anniversary Of Magellan's Voyage Discussion Topic

Wednesday, May 24: Ronda and Seville

Cueva De La Pileta

Ronda Bullring

Useful Links:


Thursday, May 25: Seville

Friday-Sunday, May 26-28: Granada

Royal Chapel

Albaicin Walking Tour

Alhambra Palace And Generalife Gardens

Powerpoint Presentation:

"There Is Nothing Sadder In Life Than Being Blind In Granada": Granada, 711-1614 CE.  This slide show offers a brief overview of Granada's history and information about specific historic sites.

Useful Links:


Reading Assignment:

Elizabeth Drayson, "'These Are The Keys Of This Paradise': How 700 Years Of Muslim Rule In Spain Came To An End," Conversation, March 6, 2018.

  Matt Carr, "Spain's Ethnic Cleansing," History Today, 59 (February 2009): 48-51.

A. Katie Harris, "The Sacromonte And The Geography Of The Sacred In Early Modern Granada," Al[Qantara, XXIII (2002): 517-43.

Optional Extra:

"The Alhambra Decree -- Edict Of The Expulsion Of The Jews Of Spain" (1492)

Joan-Lluis Palos, "Isabella's Play For Power: The Queen Of Castille," National Geographic History Magazine (March/April 2018): 64-75.

Monday-Wednesday, May 29-31: Cordoba

Inca Garcilaso De La Vega House

Cordoba Mosque

Cordoba Synagogue

Alcazar Palace

Medina Azahara

Useful Links:



Listening Assignment:

"Cordoba's Mosque-Cathedral," Heart And Soul, BBC Radio World Service, August 28, 2016.  (27 mins)

Reading Assignment:.

Yolanda Victoria Olmedo Sanchez, "Glory Of Cordoba: From Mosque To Cathedral," National Geographic History (July/August 2022): 44-61.

Optional Extras:

Violet Moller, "Chapter Four: Cordoba," Map Of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History Of How Classical Ideas Were Lost And Found (New York: Doubleday, 2019): 85-118.

Thursday-Friday, June 1-2: Seville


Possible Video: "When Worlds Collide," PBS, 2010.  (91 mins)

Powerpoint Presentation:

"Not A City But A World": Seville, 711-1614 CE.  This slide show offers a brief overview of Seville's history and information about specific historic sites.

Useful Links:


Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in the Columbus In History And Memory Discussion Topic

***Field School Notebook Due June 2

Saturday, June 3: Monastery La Rabida and Palos de la Frontera

Monastery La Raboda

Muelle De Las Carabela

Palos De La Frontera

Useful Links:

Rabida Monastery

Palos De Frontera

Optional Extra:

"The Columbian Exchange," Crash Course World History, #23, 2012.  (12 mins)

Sunday, June 4: Seville

Monday, June 5: Departure from Seville to Madrid


Useful Links:


Tuesday, June 6: Departure from Madrid to Comox Valley

***Final Project Due June 28


Cultural Lens Part 1


Cultural Lens Part 2


Cultural Lens Part 3


Field School Notebook (Travel Journal Optional)


Seminar Participation


Final Project


a)  Cultural Lens (10% x 3)

This will be a series of three short written reflections upon your own cultural perspective and how your experiences in Spain enlarge or shift your own understanding of this.  One of these will be written pre-departure; one will be written mid-trip; and one will be written at the end of the Field School.  The assignment will be integrated together with linked FIN 106 and FIN 245 responsibilities.

b)  Field School Notebook (Travel Journal Optional) (25%)

This is the one major separate HIS 205 academic responsibility.  Each student should write daily in their Field School Notebook.  The purpose of the Notebook is both to help you to absorb and remember new information and to encourage you to engage in the on-going process of reflecting upon this new learning and your Field School experiences.  Appropriate material for the Notebook includes but is not limited to the following:

-- In the field notes associated with the various sites we visit;

-- Photography field notes;

-- Notes from assigned or optional readings and documentaries;

-- Notes based upon your own independent in-the-field or on-line research;

-- Notes drawn from pre-trip study;

-- Notes connected to a few in-trip exercises;

-- Observations, musings, jottings, and reflections.

This assignment is meant to provide you with raw material for your Final Project and also to connect to Cultural Lens #2 and Cultural Lens #3.  You should be be thinking about the Final Project from early in the Field School and should try to structure your Notebook so that it helps to orient you for that.

One option is to get a Notebook and then hand write everything in that.  A completely digital approach, however, is also appropriate and I am open to a hybrid portfolio approach that combines hand writing and some digital reflection so long as this is then presented to me in an organized way.

Reflective Writing:  I encourage all students to include at least some reflective writing in your Notebook, though the amount of this will vary from student to student.  Some of you who like to write may want to consider some longer Journal-like entries or even a full Travel Journal.  I would suggest the latter only for those of you who would like to do that and who think they want something to help remember their trip by.

The Field School Notebook is a HIS 205 responsibility and should contain much information about history.  It's fine to include other material as well, however, including more personal reflections and observations.

c)  Seminar Participation (15%)

We will have regular informal but structured group discussions in which we process what we are learning.  The seminar participation grade will be based upon your preparation for and participation in these discussions.  The grade received here will in no instance lower your overall course grade as long as you demonstrate a fully responsible level of preparation here.

d)  Final Project (30%)

The final project will be an integrated FIN 106, FIN 245, and HIS 205 assignment that will ask you to reflect upon your Field School experiences and learning against the backdrop of the Meeting of the Four Worlds theme.

Some Extra Resources

There is no expectation that you access any of the materials in this section.  I have, however, provided links to a few extra historical resources that connect to our Meeting Of The Four Worlds theme.  You are certainly welcome to include notes on any of these resources as part of your Field School Notes.


Part 1, The Moorish South , Art Of Spain, BBC Four, 2011.  (58 mins.)

"Reconquest," The Making Of Spain, BBC, 2015.  (52 mins.)

"The Moors: At The Height Of Empire," When The Moors Ruled Europe, Channel Four Television, 2007.  (53 mins.)

The Moors: Prelude To The Renaissance," When The Moors Ruled Europe, Channel Four Television, 2007.  (53 mins.)

"An Islamic History Of Europe, "BBC Worldwide Learning, 2008.  (89 mins)

"Cities Of Light: The Rise And Fall Of Islamic Spain," Unity Productions Foundation, 2007.  (116 mins)

"October 12, 1492: The Discovery Of The Americas," Arte France, 2017.  (27 mins.)

"The Longest Voyage," DW, 2022.  (42 mins)

"When Worlds Collide," PBS, 2010.  (91 mins)

Kayla Wolf, "Ugly History: The Spanish Inquisition," TED-Ed, March 2021.  (5 mins)

Audio Sources

"From Tolerance To Tyranny," Ideas, CBC, February 20, 2017.

"The Spanish Inquisition," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, June 22, 2006.

 "After 522 Years, Spain Seeks To Make Amends For Expulsion Of Jews," All Things Considered, NPR, December 25, 2014.

"Muslim Spain," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, November 21, 2002.


History In The News -- Islam And Spain

History In The News -- Judaism And Spain

Spanish Empire -- History In The News

Benjamin R. Gampel, "Jews, Christians, And Muslims In Medieval Iberia: 'Convivencia' Through The Eyes Of Sephardic Jews," in Vivian B. Mann et al., Convivencia: Jews, Christians And Muslims In Medieval Spain (New York: George Braziller, 2000): 11-37.

Browse extensively in the 500th Anniversary Of The Conquest Of Mexico Discussion Topic

Drayson, Elizabeth.  Lost Paradise: The Story Of Granada.  Head Of Zeus, 2021.

Menocal, Maria Rosa.  Ornament Of The World: How Muslims, Jews, And Christians Created A Culture Of Tolerance In Medieval Spain.  Boston: Back Bay Books, 2003.

Irwin, Robert.  Alhambra.  Cambridge: Harvard, 2011.

Land On A Crossroad

  The History Of Spain: Land On A Crossroad, 24 lectures, 2017:  This superb on-line course of two dozen half-hour lectures from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay professor Joyce E. Salisbury is available through  Vancouver Island Regional Library as a Kanopy streaming video and provides a comprehensive introduction to Spain's history.  To access Kanopy, you need either to get a free library card by visiting one of the local library branches or by registering free on-line.

Late Policy

All assignments must be handed in by the submission deadline unless an extension has been agreed to be the instructor before the deadline.  Late submissions without such a negotiation may receive a grade of zero.

Writing Support And Peer Tutoring

Writing Support is available to all students at no additional cost.  Go to Writing Support for any or all of your assignments.  Every visit is a step toward becoming a better writer.  Use Writing Support as many times as you like, and at any point in your writing process.  The writing support faculty can help you understand the assignment, develop your ideas, outlines, thesis, and revision -- and anything else in-between.  Book your appointment through the library website, or visit the library desk to inquire about drop-ins.  There's also WriteAway, an online tutoring platform that allows you to upload your papers and assignments for detailed written feedback.  Both services may be found at https://library.nic.bc.ca/WritingSupport .

Student Technical Services

Our Student Technical Service team is available to help you with any technical issues that you may be experiencing as a student.  Please go to https://library.nic.bc.ca/studenttech for more information.

Learn Anywhere

NIC's Learn Anywhere website is geared to provide a collection of information that will help you be successful learning digitally by covering area such as: What is digital learning? How to be a digital learner while using NIC-supported technologies during your studies? A list of key skills and knowledge all students should have for successful learning in today's world, knowing your rights and responsibilities and Technology Readiness Checklists. More details at: https://learnanywhere.opened.ca/

Community Supports (24/7)

Here2Talk24/7 counselling support for post-secondary students: 1-877-857-3397 (Available to students located in Canada and offshore).

Related Policy

Community Code of Academic, Personal and Professional Conduct (3-06)

Instructional Accommodation and Access Services for Students with Disabilities (3-17)

Student Appeals Policy (3-30)

Student Complaint Resolution Policy (3-31)

Evaluation of Student Performance Policy (3-33)

Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy (3-34)

Course Outline Policy (3-35)

Academic Standing and Progression (3-37)

Grading System (4-14)


New worlds and new perspectives await




web stats