Thanks to grant, Koeninger off to Spain

Sam Houston State professor of spanish Frieda Koeninger will be traveling to Spain in December to continue research, thanks to a grant from the Spanish government.

Koeninger, who has been with SHSU since 1995, applied for the grant through the University of Minnesota and the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports last April and was awarded the grant this past July. She will leave for Madrid on December 26 and will be gone until January 24.

“I’m very excited about it, and looking forward to it,” says Koeninger, who teaches Spanish classes on language, linguistics, culture, and literature at all levels at SHSU and also organizes the Puebla Field School which is held every June for SHSU students.

Koeninger will be continuing research that she began six years ago at the Mexican National Archives. In the 1790s, the educated people in Spain began following Enlightened ideas learned from the French, who were in the midst of the French Revolution at the time. Such beliefs concentrated on science rather than religion. Such ideas influenced Americans such as Thomas Jefferson and also influenced the American government and its structure. Among the cases of those persecuted, Koeninger, found cases involving priests, monks, students and businessmen.

Koeninger ‘s research project is mainly on Political Dissidents, and follows cases of citizens who were wrongly arrested during the reign of Carlos IV of Spain. Carlos had felt threatened by what the educated people were learning about the events in France at the time. Koeninger said that the people of Spain harbored resentment against the king and queen of Spain at the time, because of their character. Carlos IV was an avid hunter, and his wife was having an affair with the Prime Minster of Spain.

The king was afraid of an uprising and a movement towards independence for Mexico, and started cracking down on those who were in favor of enlightenment.

In choosing the cases that she uses in her research, Koeninger digs through the archives, many of which date back to the 1790s, and she chooses the cases which interest her the most, and gets copies of those cases for her own use. She goes on to filter out only the most important information.

Koeninger expects to publish several articles on her research, a condition of her grant and hopes to have a book published eventually once her research is complete.

For her classes, Koeninger hopes to give her students a better understanding.

“I’m hoping that this will enhance my understanding of Latin American colonial culture and that I’ll be able to transmit that new perspective to my students,” said Koeninger.

Koeninger’s ultimate goal is to raise awareness of the period, and to work that weakness into the teaching of Spanish.

“The 18th Century is neglected and even overlooked by many scholars of Spanish, and I hope to address that weakness in the Spanish curriculum,” said Koeninger.

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