Carmela Mattza is an Associate Professor of Spanish at Louisiana State University and an active member of the MLA Commons community. She started a group on the Commons titled Teaching Spanish, which supports the sharing of ebooks, OER resources, and OA scholarship. She participates in many MLA Commons groups, especially those related to medieval and early modern studies, and she created a blog on MLA Commons, Estudios Medievales y del Siglo de Oro/ Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Her work in the CORE repository ranges from an ebook for helping intermediate spanish learners practice conversation, to articles explaining poetry and prose, and a conference proceeding outlining Golden Age plays.
With hundreds of downloads of her CORE deposits, Mattza has contributed widely to the Spanish and literature communities on the Commons. Her deposits are shared with a variety of MLA Commons groups including the LSL second language teaching and learning group and the CLCS Classical and Modern group. Mattza takes her commitment to the humanities even further through her blog Medieval and Early Modern Studies where she announces and invites people to join talks, workshops, and other events concerning literature and the humanities in general.
Not only is she passionate about medieval and early modern literature, but she also values sharing her work as a collaborative tool and using her platform to engage with the broader humanities community. To Mattza, open access and open educational resources are beneficial to everyone, allowing all parties to be “agents of knowledge,” as she puts it, constantly learning and growing.
I reached out to Mattza to learn more about what got her involved in Spanish literature and what has motivated her to share so much of her work. What inspires me about her work is her ability to make it personal and connect to her own heritage. As a Spanish major, I have learned about and read some of the works Mattza studies, and I always enjoy exploring literary works from different perspectives. Her passion for her work allows others to be moved by what moves her.
What sparked your interest in medieval and early modern Spanish literature?
The more I read about the period and its most emblematic works, the more I realized the thematic complexity and the cultural diversity embodying the literary texts I was encountering. However, I think I fell in love with this area because it allowed me (and still does) to connect with a literary and linguistic past that works as the background I need to discover and rediscover, build and rebuild but also to deconstruct, my own cultural heritage and my understanding of many of our contemporary affairs.
What is your favorite thing about your area of research?
It is almost impossible to study it without an interdisciplinary approach. You need to know about art, fine arts, history, literature (and science too!) to understand and contextualize well the texts. Indeed, I am always learning new things (or digital programs!) and I simply love that realization that it is not over, that I need to know more about X, Y, or Z, etc.
What are some projects you are currently working on or are looking forward to?
I am currently focused on Cervantes’s texts. I am writing an essay on Don Quixote’s adaptations to the theater stage. I am also finishing an anthology of early modern texts that connects Chinese and European literatures. I recently completed a bibliographical note about a letter sent by queen Isabel de Valois (1545-1568) to her mother queen Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) that until recently was attributed to Isabel de Borbon (1602-1644). This epistolary correspondence between these two queens provides us with the opportunity to study from a different perspective on how gendered relationships and writing during the early modern period help to shape female agency and political power.
What inspires you to share OA and OER material to the CORE repository?
The desire to collaborate with a society that provides a fair education and equal opportunity to all. In my opinion, one of the most important benefits of open educational resources (OER) or educational resources in Open Access (OA) is the opportunity it provides students to become agents of knowledge. On a professional level, it allows me to share in a more direct and faster way with colleagues nationwide and or globally my recent discoveries, thoughts, and sometimes even teaching strategies with the hope to receive feedback that allows me to improve and keep collaborating with others.
What benefits do you see in using communities like MLA Commons?
It allows us to get in touch and discuss in a virtual and more formal setting the outreach of our discoveries. The MLA Commons is not a for-profit platform, which is of immense help to guarantee objectivity and equal access to information. Allowing the discussion of different perspectives in our field of expertise helps our learned societies, such as the MLA, to expand and continue their scientific contribution to society and the educational system in our country and abroad.
Do you have any advice on how people can best utilize MLA Commons?
Some of my colleagues have been very generous with their sharing of materials in the MLA Commons. I hope more would consider uploading their own material too. I foresee the MLA Commons as one of the best perks of being a member of the MLA if we all collaborate in it. The best way to utilize the MLA Commons is by sharing and let others know of it!