Newsletter, 19 September 2014

Cultural Agents Initiative: Arts and Humanities in Civic Engagement

Aliciana Possinelli, a teacher from the Colégio Positivo Júnior, and her students sit in a circle, holding their campaign posters. Students used information collected from the text in their book and tangents to create posters. They later displayed these together on a wall.
Curitiba, Brazil. August 2014. 

19 September 2014
Dear Friends,

We hope you enjoy this weekly update, which highlights some of our recent activities and the work of other cultural agents. Please see our websites for more information, news, and a list of our upcoming events: and

As we hope to support your work as a cultural agent too, please send your news to us at

To all of our supporters, “texters” (tejedores, tecelões), and collaborators throughout the world, thank you!

With many thanks,
The Cultural Agents Team

A review of Doris Sommer’s The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities and Peter Brooks’s edited collection The Humanities and Public Life by Patrícia Vieira–an Associate Professor at Georgetown University–was published in the Los Angeles Review of Books this week. In this review, Vieira asks:  “What are the Humanities for?” For her thoughtful review of these texts in relation to the larger debate about the value and future of the Humanities, see:

Today the South Asia Institute, with the support of the Mahindra Center for the Humanities’ Cultural and Humanitarian Agents seminar, will hold its inaugural event of its Arts Initiative: The Role of Arts in Social Change. This event will center on the role of actor and director Nandita Das as a cultural agent and the role of scholars in critically exploring the social and intellectual power of such cultural agents. Das will be joined by Assistant Professor Cara Moyer-Duncan and Associate Professor Mukti Khaire. For more information on this discussion, please see the event page:

Please note that the event will now be held in Tsai Auditorium, CGIS S010, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA.

With the support of Grupo Positivo, teachers at the Colégio Positivo Júnior and the Colégio Positivo Internacional are using Pre-Texts in their classrooms. For more on the implementation of Pre-Texts in classrooms in Curitiba, please visit:

Luciano Concheiro, a graduate of the University of Cambridge, is a Lecturer at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He’s currently using Pre-Texts in his course to help students engage with the work of such philosophers as Nietzsche, Rorty, Saussure and Sartre.

We’ve received encouraging feedback from the teachers working with Literature Out Loud (Pre-Texts) in China. To give you a sense of this inspiring feedback, here is one example from a teacher:
Before I joined the Literature Out Loud (Pre-Texts) workshop, I thought that LOL was just a way to improve learners’ oral skills. After I joined the training and participated in the workshop, I realized that LOL can help us [teachers] to use complex texts in class, and that activities using multiple art forms can motivate students to think, create, and collaborate. It is an effective approach to encourage students to learn from each other and to increase their understanding of complex texts. Normally, literature is difficult to understand and boring to read. I feel that LOL is an approach to develop learners’ passion in dissecting challenging material and to relate this knowledge to their lives. So students and teachers are both driven by impulse to learn through LOL’s approach. 

Students from the Nanshan Learning Centre and a Wiseman Group teacher
make a living sculpture of the Maldives.

Other Active Cultural Agents 

United States and Beyond 
The exhibition Citizen Culture: Artists and Architects Shape Policy is on view at the Santa Monica Museum of Art until December 20, 2014. In this exhibition, independent curator Lucía Sanromán considers the ways in which selected citizen-artists have reshaped public policy through aesthetics. For a review of Citizen Culture that came out this week, please see:

The Cultural Agents Initiative recognizes the arts and humanities as vital resources for positive social change. Working from a long humanistic tradition dedicated to civic development, we focus on identifying artists, educators, and leaders who have developed creative practices and respond to the role of art in building civil society and confronting its challenges.
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September 19, 2014
by Rodriguez