Sherezhade is the mythic queen of Arab or Persian origins who kept herself alive through her wedding night-and many more nights-by telling her insomniac king-husband stories. If his interest wavered she was doomed. Proyecto Sherezade also intends to "stay alive"-that is, to hold the interest of readers of stories in Spanish. In the internet age, after all, the writer can "terminate" the story with a simple click. For this reason, the authors-self-described members of "academic and cultural circles"-solicit, select, edit, and post short stories in Spanish that are likely to "seduce" the reader, keeping him/her reading, entranced, not wanting to click away.
To this end, the stories are invariably short, often not requiring more than a single screen to read. Two to four stories are selected by the five members of the editorial team each month. There are currently 130 stories in the collection, listed by month of selection, dating from inception in 1996. At the level of the index, each month's titles appear with an orientation of one or two sentences. Clicking on the title brings you quickly to the full text of the story. At the bottom of the page are brief biographical notes.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
An additional feature of this site, and central to its declared purpose, is a venue for commenting on the stories through posts, and thus reading others' responses. Some stories, especially the recent ones, have no posts, while older stories may have as many as ten. Writers also submit their e-mail addresses.
Two of the stories are accompanied by pedagogical materials. These include notes on the historical context of the story, exercises, comprehension questions, and topics for discussion and essay writing. The topics are useful and interesting, while the other materials are routine. Vocabulary help in the form of translations to English are available on these two texts. Clicking on many of the more complicated words opens up a new window with the translation.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The interface is simple, consistent, pleasant. One of the team members, a computer artist, complements the stories without distracting from them. There is little superfluous text.
Users of the site are greeted with a quotation from Marshall Mcluhan: to the effect that "technology is the bonfire around which inhabitants of the global village tell their stories." Unlike many materials that seem to have been designed elsewhere and moved to the net,
Proyecto Sherezade looks like it belongs there. These are unstructured materials, a resource that will interest both upper intermediate and advanced students of Spanish, as well as the native speakers.
In the pedagogical materials there is a technical problem-a "transfer interrupted" message interpolated in the text and some part of the text lost. The authors, however, do not plan to produce pedagogical materials regularly.
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