Nesletter, April 2016


Arts and Humanities Civic Engagement



The Work of Art in the World Creates Pre – Texts for Teaching and Learning: A Public Talk by Doris Sommer

  • WHEN: April 1st , 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
  • WHERE: Jones Room, Woodruff Library. Emory University, Atlanta, GA.
  • WHAT: Dr. Doris Sommer is Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance languages and Literatures and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Professor Sommer is the founding director of the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard, and the designer of Pre-Texts, a train-the-trainers program that distills theoretical approaches to literature and community-based engagement strategies into a simple protocol that fosters close reading of texts and creativity. She will be offering a public talk at Emory University.

Emory Storytelling with Dr. Doris Sommer 

  • WHEN: Friday, April 1st, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00pm
  • WHERE: Jones Room, Woodruff Library. Emory University, Atlanta, GA.
  • WHAT: Following the format of previous CoLA (Coalition of the Liberal Arts) Emory Storytelling events, this session will feature a conversation with Professor Sommer and story circles in which participants will share a meal and tell their own stories related to the “work of art in the world.” Open to students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni. Dinner included.
  • Pre-Texts Workshops with Doris Sommer at Emory University
  • WHEN: April 2nd, 10:00am – 2:00pm
  • WHERE: Jones Room, Woodruff Library. Emory University, Atlanta, GA.
  • WHAT: Join Dr. Doris Sommer for a Pre-Texts workshop. Pre-Texts is a teacher-training program and a flexible approach to teaching that uses art-making to engage challenging texts, fostering three integrated areas of development: literacy, innovation, and citizenship. The talk will be followed by a light reception. Open to students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and community partners. Lunch will be included.

Spaces are limited and registration is required. For information, please contact Johannes Kleiner at





Creative Approaches to Healthy Aging: The 7th Annual Arts in Healthcare Conference

  • WHEN: April 14, 5:00pm – 7:30 pm    |    April 15,9:30am – 12:30 pm
  • WHERE: Washburn Auditorium, Brattle Campus and Marran Theater, Doble Campus, Lesley University
  • WHAT: The preconference, led by Donna Newman-Bluestein, BC-DMT, LMHC, will explore the use of dance and expressive movement to enliven older adults and people with dementia to improve quality of life and reduce isolation by helping them reconnect to themselves and the world around them. The conference will showcase the Multi-Media Arts Project between Lesley University’s Institute for Arts and Health (IAH) and the Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly (JCHE), a series of affordable, independent, non-denominational homes for elderly adults.  Funded by a National Endowment for the Arts ArtWorks grant, Lesley and JCHE teamed up to lead the project across a range of artistic disciplines and creative modalities that are specifically adapted for older adults. The project was designed to build community, enhance cross-cultural appreciation, increase self-esteem, improve motor and cognitive skills, and promote meaningful social connections.  Participants engaged in create arts opportunities, including access to art and music-making workshops, mural building, drama, dance, creative movement, and poetry writing opportunities.




Latin America Education Forum Conference 2016 

  • WHEN: Friday, April 15, 2016, 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • WHERE: Harvard Graduate School of Education – Cambridge, MA, USA
  • WHAT: The Latin America Education Forum Conference is an annual gathering of educators, researchers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The 2016 LAEF Spring Conference, “Educational Equity and Opportunity in Latin America,” will bring together members of the education community across Latin America to engage in a vibrant conversation about the challenges, innovations, and opportunities sparked by the pursuit of educational equity throughout the region.Pre-Texts will be participating in the “Through Our Students’ Eyes: Education in Latin America” arts exhibit, which hopes to showcase students’ artwork and to celebrate the rich cultures and arts of Latin America.


Antanas Mockus and Marco Abarca: Dialogue of Symbolic Reparations 


  • WHEN: April, 17th, 2016, 3:00 – 5:00pm
  • WHERE: Meeting room S216, David Rockefeller Center, 1730 Cambridge St
  • WHAT: Antanas Mockus and Marco Abarca will be holding causal dialogue over the importance of symbolic reparations.
*Event is by invitation only.*
  • 2016:  IV Colombian Conference 
                                                  IV COLOMBIAN CONFERENCE
  • WHEN: April, 18 – 22
  • WHERE: Boston University, MIT, Tufts and Harvard University
  • WHAT: The 2016 IV Colombian Conference seeks to bring visibility to some issues of current relevance to our country in an academic setting to foster open, critical and interdisciplinary dialogue between stakeholders, scholars, students, and the general public. It will be structured around the following themes, which will be explored through panels, workshops, and discussions, as well as artistic, audiovisual and theatrical exhibits: 1) Models for the Advancement of Science and Technology, 2) Territory, City and Census: The local dimensions of the global challenges of exile, 3) Financing the Post-Conflict: How can the interests of the Government, International Donors and Local Agencies be aligned to work together in the Post-Conflict?, 4) Empathy, Reconciliation and Peace, and 5) Memorials and symbolic reparations.
  • Phillips Brooks House Association 13th Annual Summer Urban Program Auction 
  • WHEN: April 26, 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM
  • WHERE: Knafel Center, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
  • WHAT: The annual Summer Urban Program auction, held at the Knafel Center in Radcliffe Yard, draws over 200 Cambridge and Boston supporters who are passionate about improving the lives of youth and families in our community. the event itself includes food, drinks, music, a live and silent auction, awards presented to local heroes, and opportunities for sponsorship. 

General News: Cultural Agents

Forum Theatre responds to Sexual Assault at Harvard University

“In February, Doris Sommer and Pilar Vicuna from Cultural Agents and I as the Education Specialist for the Graduate and Professional Schools at OSAPR first met to explore how we can put our skills and expertise together to raise awareness about and to prevent sexual assault on campus. Quickly the idea was born to engage students into a Theatre of the Oppressed during SAAM, in which participants have an opportunity to intervene and positively change the dynamic in a scenario acted ‘on stage’.

Last Friday, Cultural Agents offered a Theatre of the Oppressed facilitator’s training. I happily attended this training, because I wanted to learn how I can integrate forum theatre into my workshops. Our group of nine people, was subdivided into groups of three. Each group came up with its own short play dealing with sexual assault, sexual and gender-harassment, and gender-stereotyping. Every group performed its short play and the other people in the room had an opportunity to intervene, thereby dramatically changing the script and the outcome of the play. Once we went through each of the three plays, we sat down together to de-brief about our interventions and to discuss how forum theatre can be helpful for my work at Harvard.

How I have experienced forum theatre, its greatest advantage is that it physically, verbally, and emotionally involves the audience if they choose to intervene. This adds a layer to the conventional scenario discussions that I usually offer in my workshops. Simply reading a scenario offers a good opportunity to discuss an intervention. However, workshop participants can easily keep an emotional distance to it. Forum theatre invites workshop participants to be part of the solution and to experience how it feels to intervene verbally or physically (without the use of violence!).

Forum theatre is fun to participate in! Of course, not everyone has to intervene. This is important for those who consciously decide to keep an emotional distance to the play, which of course is absolutely okay!”

– Maike Isaac, OSAPR, Harvard University

General News: Pre-Texts

Harvard Extension School: Pre-Texts Workshop in course “Museum as Active Learning Space”

An intensive three-days Pre-Texts workshop took place at Extension School as part of the course Museum as Active Learning Space. The workshop was designed upon the Pre-Texts model to train participants, most of them museum educators and administrators, in the use of art-making as a pedagogical tool to turn museum collections into powerful resources to explore difficult texts. Participants were challenged to think creatively, to play with a complex text as “Cosmos” from Carl Sagan and create their own museum activities to create community and develop an appreciation for art.During three days a total of 13 people had the opportunity to use the museum space in new ways in order to encourage visitors to get involved with art and intervene their context. From re-acting to painting, expressing through body language or singing, group activities and individual interventions, participants of this Pre-Texts intensive experience learn to imagine creatively, develop citizenship and turn the museum space into resources for approaching a difficult text.

– Thenesoya Martín de la Nuez, doctoral student,
Romances Languages and Literature Department,
Harvard University,

Pre-Texts Workshop in Nassau, Bahamas  in alliance with the Inter American Development Bank

“Large wrap-around verandas at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas provided the expansive setting for the workshop. The participants were mostly young, enthusiastic artists, teachers and community workers.The workshop moved rhythmically as Doris introduced the concepts of Pre-Texts between warm-up exercises. The primary focus was reading of a text from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, while participants sat at tables and made book covers that responded to the text. Doing while listening, as workers had been doing in tobacco “factories” for almost two centuries. It was a surreal moment with Doris standing on a chair, oratory style, while participants were trying to grasp this collision of mind and body. Then everyone asked a question of the text and “published” it on our clothesline.

The challenge of playing with texts became wonderfully obvious when participant pairs pantomimed a specific line from the text, which required all to scan the chapter to find the right reference. This was both difficult and rewarding, with many Ah-Ha moments.

After a week of engaging in various Pre-Texts dynamics, the workshop ended jubilantly with a group photo and unending photo ops with Doris, and participants modeling the imperial crowns. There was a melancholy feeling as the group dispersed, while knowing they’d be meeting weekly with each other to further their grasp of Pre-Text. Many seemed committed to putting in the fifteen hours of practice to receive their Pre-Text certification.”

– Jay Critchley, artist
For more photographs of Pre-Texts in Nassau, Bahamas, see:

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Caminos de Paz Cases for Culture Cultural Agents Opportunities Partners Pre-Texts Rennaisance Now
April 2, 2016
by Rodriguez