Newsletter, February 2020

Pre-Texts News

Pre-Texts: The Arts Teach (Everything)
Saltillo, Mexico

Pre-Texts was at the center of the 28th meeting of the National Council of Normal Education Authorities (CONAEN) in Saltillo, Mexico, the annual December gathering for Mexico’s system of normal schools—or, universities designed for the country’s future educators. The title emblazoned on the folders distributed to each attendant at this year’s conference was, “Pre-Texts: The Arts Teach (Everything).” In order to inaugurate the implementation of Pre-Texts methodology at the national level with each of Mexico’s 460 normal schools, Professor Doris Sommer was invited to lead a 15-hour workshop over the span of the three-day gathering. Professor Sommer, alongside Harvard graduate student Timothy Byram and Pre-Text collaborators Hortencia Chavez, Voroca Dávila, and Álvaro Arzamendi, worked with liaisons representing schools from each of Mexico’s 32 states, and then participated in sessions facilitated by those liaisons with the directors of each state’s normal school program. At the end of the workshop, directors and liaisons alike marveled at the dense reading material and creative projects they and their colleagues had managed to work through in such a short time. Many provided detailed plans regarding how they intended to use Pre-Texts in their state’s school system. Others were inspired to write collaboratively about the links between Pre-Texts’ pedagogy and the history of arts and education in Mexico, spanning from post-Mexican Revolution Secretary of Education José Vasconcelos to the present day.

Pre-Texts in Peru

Doris Sommer and Jose Falconi visited Peru in January and facilitated Pre-Texts workshops in San Juan de Lurigancho, Lima and in Ayacucho.

A inicio de año, tuvimos la suerte de recibir a Doris Sommer en TANI. Nuestro equipo y aliados de diversas instituciones pudieron participar activamente y aprender una metodología que sin duda nos permitirá seguir reforzando y profundizando las actividades que realizamos en educación. Pre-Textos es un producto de más de 35 años de investigación y docencia de la catedrática Doris Sommer en la Universidad de Harvard, que ha estado activo a nivel internacional desde 2007. Parte del encanto del programa es el empleo de prácticas comunes latinoamericanas para construir una educación excepcional.

– El Taller de los Niños (TANI) es una ONG que trabaja en las zonas más vulnerable de San Juan de Lurigancho con niños, jóvenes y familias, promoviendo un buen y justo desarrollo a través del desarrollo del potencial de la comunidad.

Pre-Texts in Romania

A Pre-Texts workshop was held at the Luliu Hatieganu School in Cluj, Romania in January.
More information coming soon on Pre-Texts in Nairobi, Pre-Texts at the Global Leaders Program in Frutillar, Chile, and Pre-Texts at the Global Co-Creation Lab in Miami.

Featured News

Spanish 165: Bilingual Arts

Prof. Doris Sommer is teaching a course on Bilingual Arts this semester on Tuesdays from 9:45am-11:45am in Boylston 104. The course will be conducted in Spanish and English.

Course description: Bilingual practices are everywhere, though we are just beginning to address them in academic disciplines. We will explore the aesthetic dimensions of bilingualism, and some effects in related areas, including politics, language philosophy, and psychology. How do bilingual language games increase political flexibility, or threaten personal or national coherence? Topics will include 1) formalist appreciations; 2) exile as incitation to write; 3) Gains and Losses of heteroglossia; 4) Hybrid Games; 5) Political dialogues; 6) Code-Switching and Creativity; 7) Bilingual Theater, Music and Film; 8) The art of translation; 9) Bicultural Spaces. Readings in prose and poetry by international authors and theorists. Taught weekly, including guest lectures by, and discussions with, anthropologists, linguists, writers, and cultural critics who have worked on this subject.

Afro-Latin American Counterpoints: History and Culture
Spanish 123 / African and African American Studies 124

Prof. Doris Sommer and Prof. Alejandro de la Fuente are teaching a course on Afro-Latin American Counterpoints: History and Culture this semester on Wednesdays from 9:45am-11:45am in Barker 230.

Course description: This course explores how African cultural expressions influenced colonial societies and later national cultures in Latin America. How did peoples of African descent shape the formation of Latin American national cultures in areas such as literature, religion, visual arts, music, dance, and cinema? Some scholars have debated whether African religious, musical, medical and communitarian practices were reproduced in the New World or whether they were creolized through fusion with other (European and indigenous) practices. Others have sought to explain how African cultural practices (music, religion, dances) that were derided as primitive and uncivilized in the early twentieth century became “nationalized” and transformed into key expressions of national cultures in many Latin American countries. What are the implications of this process for those cultural forms and their practitioners? How do they impact, if at all, other areas of social life? We explore these questions through historical and literary texts, films, visual arts, and recordings.

The Summer Institute of Civic Studies

The Summer Institute of Civic Studies is an intensive interdisciplinary seminar that brings together faculty, advanced graduate students, and practitioners from many countries and diverse fields of study. In 2020 it will take place from the evening of June 18 until June 26 at Tufts University in Medford, MA, and Boston.

To apply: Applications are now being received and should be submitted by March 31 for best consideration. The application consists of a resume, a cover letter about your interests, and an electronic copy of your graduate transcript (if applicable).

The Summer Institute was founded and co-taught from 2009 to 2018 by Peter Levine, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Tisch College, and Karol Sołtan, Associate Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. Since 2019, it has been led by Peter Levine. Each year, it features guest seminars by distinguished scholars and practitioners from various institutions and engages participants in challenging discussions such as:

  • How can people work together to improve the world?
  • How can people reason together about what is right to do?
  • What practices and institutional structures promote these kinds of citizenship?
  • How should empirical evidence, ethics, and strategy relate?

You can sign up here to receive occasional emails about the Summer Institute.


Second Annual APSA Institute for Civically Engaged Research (ICER) 

In 2019, the American Political Science Association (APSA) Presidential Task Force on New Partnerships launched the now-annual APSA Institute for Civically Engaged Research (ICER). ICER is intended for advanced graduate students in political science and political scientists at any stage of their careers who wish to shift to using civically engaged research. (It is not meant for scholars who are already experienced in that approach.)

To apply, please complete this form. Application deadline: March 1, 2020.

Topics covered will include:

  • Expertise: what do political scientists uniquely contribute? What are the limitations of scholarly expertise? What types of expertise do those outside of academia have?
  • The ethics of collaboration: sharing of credit, funds and overhead, navigating IRB, dealing with disagreements
  • Communicating results: to partners, relevant communities, the press, and directly to the broader public
  • How to navigate common social science values and norms while doing civically engaged work
  • Career considerations: publication and credit, tenure and promotion, funding your research
  • Mapping the different and varied ways that political scientists engage through research and beyond

The Institute will take place on the campus of Tufts University, in the Boston area, from June 15-18, 2020. Approximately twenty participants will meet each day for intensive discussions and workshops. Thanks to support from the Ivywood Foundation, participation in the Institute for Civically Engaged Research is free, and scholarships are available to defray costs of travel, food, and housing on the Tufts campus. Applicants are expected to seek financial support from their home institution, but admission to the Institute for Civically Engaged Research will not be affected by financial need.

Caminos de Paz Cases for Culture Cultural Agents Opportunities Partners Pre-Texts Rennaisance Now
February 4, 2020
by Rodriguez