Newsletter, 3 October 2014

Cultural Agents Initiative: Arts and Humanities in Civic Engagement

In a reading and writing class, Miki Eloy’s students display and admire one another’s drawings that were created from stains, relating these to a poem. Ateneo Fuente. Mexico. September 2014. 

3 October 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

On October 4, the renowned scholar Néstor García Canclini will lead a discussion with Professor Sommer about key themes related to her recent book, The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities, at the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation in Miami.

On Tuesday, October 7, the Harvard Undergraduate Humanities Initiative will hold an informational meeting at 5pm in Boylston Hall, room 104. Inspired by the Humanities Ambassador Club at New York University and his work with the Cultural Agents Initiative this past summer, Josh Stallings is organizing a chapter of the NYU group at Harvard. If you are interested in sharing your ideas for the future of the Humanities, please attend this introductory meeting.

With the support of Grupo Positivo, teachers at the Colégio Positivo Júnior and the Colégio Positivo Internacional continue to use Pre-Texts in their classrooms, developing new and creative activities to engage students with texts through art making. For more on teachers’ implementation of Pre-Texts in their classrooms, please visit their blog:

Pre-Texts continues to be implemented effectively in the Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila and the Instituto de Ciencias y Humanidades. The photos below offer a couple of examples of the types of activities that are being used to encourage students to think critically and creatively.

In a course on Methods of Investigation at the Instituto de Ciencias y Humanidades in Saltillo, students created a conceptual map as an extension of the tangent exercise in which students select and bring in a reading that is connected to the assigned text.

In an English class on architecture, students formed teams and created fashion designs in response to a lecture on La Llorona (the Weeping Woman). During the fashion show, each group explained the design in English.

Other Active Cultural Agents 

United States
Nameless Sound and Ripley House presented a bicycle opera in Houston on September 27. These musical bikes will continue to be available until November 22. Nameless Sound supports collaborations between contemporary musical artists and young people in schools, community centers, and homeless shelters. For more on the work of nameless sound, please visit:

Syria and Beyond
Syria: The Trojan Women is an adaptation of The Trojan Women by Euripides, which weaves the contemporary stories of Syrian refugees into this ancient text. This play reflects the work and stories of a group of Syrian women refugees who traveled to Amman, Jordan to join a drama therapy workshop at the invitation of the British NGO Refuge International. Syria: The Trojan Women reflects the enduring relevancy of great literature, creatively using a classic text as a pretext for addressing current crises and individual tragedies. For more on the stories and work of these women, please visit:

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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October 31, 2014
by Rodriguez