Newsletter, January 2018



Arts and Humanities Civic Engagement


Cultural Agents is an interface between academic learning and civic engagement. The Initiative promotes arts and humanities as social resources.

Pre-Texts News:

Doris Sommer and Adriana Gutierrez traveled to the lakeside town of Frutillar, Chile to facilitate Pre-Texts with Carl Sagan’s Cosmos for students in the YOA Orchestra of the Americas in early January.

Photo album:

Doris Sommer visited Costa Rica in mid-January and introduced two groups to Pre-Texts. Joining “Conectados al Sur” (January 15 and 16), a symposium in San José dedicated to youth technology engagement in Latin America, she led two mini-sessions with participants. The group read a technical essay on the ethics of development and then designed digital Pre-Texts activities. January 17 and 18, Doris Sommer collaborated with the Escuela Jose Fabio Garnier Ugalde to facilitate two day-long sessions of Pre-Texts in San José, Costa Rica.The group played with “En las medias de los flamencos” by Horacio Quiroga.

Learn more about “Conectados al Sur”:

Doris Sommer, Vialla Hartfield-Mendez, and Jason Courtmanche led two sessions of Pre-Texts at the 2018 MLA Annual Convention (January 4-7, 2018) in New York City. They read two texts, Clarice Lispector’s Amor and Michel Foucault’s “Panopticon” chapter.

Jason, Vialla, and I were stumped at the beginning, because we brought two very different texts– Clarice Lispector’s “Love” and Michel Foucault’s chapter on the Panopticon – in order to demonstrate that any kind of text can be raw material for Pre-Texts but the participants were divided about the choice. So, we tackled both. The first day went to Lispector and the following short sessions went to Foucault. Not forcing a decision turned out to be a good decision, because the demonstration of range was felt and not simply affirmed. We were all impressed, I think, that a relatively large group of 18 participants trudged through the snow the first morning, and that they were consistent in attendance.

–Doris Sommer

This is what I have needed as a professor for years, and known that I needed it, but didn’t know where to find it! Pre-Texts will revolutionize my classroom and help students to see the nuance, power, and range of art-making as a way to engage with literature in memorable, unique, and meaningful ways!

— Carrie Rohman
Lafayette College

Enjoy the Pre-Texts Folk songs:

Massachusetts Events and News

Harvard Square Homeless Shelter: Winter Donations Needed! Especially blankets, gloves, hats, scarves, deodorant, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

Learn more:


In this investigative theater workshop, we will explore the theme of the Stranger within the urban landscape. By opening a dialogue with concepts from urban studies, geography, cognitive sciences and the theory of complex systems, participants will discover new ways of thinking about the theatrical event and ignite alternative writing processes.​

Place:  Harvard University.
Dates: Feb 3, from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Feb 10, from 10:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.


The Summer Urban Program seeks directors and counselors to work at camps across Boston and Cambridge.


Director position:

Counselor position:


The Summer Urban Program PBHA’s Summer Urban Program, or SUP, is a network of 10 summer camps at 12 different sites across Boston and Cambridge for seven weeks each summer. SUP is staffed by 130 college students and 90 local high schoolers, and each summer welcomes more than 800 young people ages six to 13. Its Refugee Youth Enrichment Program (RYSE) is an evening camp serving high school students. SUP offers mornings of academic enrichment, afternoons of educational field trips, and artistic, cultural, and service-learning workshops throughout the week, along with two overnight camping trips and a day-long final trip.

Summer Urban Program youth come from low-income backgrounds in the Dorchester, Roxbury, South End, South Boston, Mission Hill, Chinatown, and Cambridge communities. In addition, SUP has recent immigrant youth between the ages of 13 and 19 from the greater Boston area in our Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment Program, and Native American youth from across Boston attend our Native American Youth Enrichment Program.


In partnership with the SCI AmeriCorps Program, ENGAGE’s “Eastie Soars” campaign is proud to announce the launch of the East Boston Corps, a neighborhood-wide strategy to recruit service year members to meet the youth program gap within the community. ENGAGE’s goal is to grow from 15 to 115 service year members in East Boston by 2020. To get started, ENGAGE has partnered up with Social Capital Inc. to find energetic, community-minded individuals for Half-Year SCI AmeriCorps positions at the four community organizations below.


❖ Support and build youth programs to meet a critical need in East Boston.

❖ Full-time (40-43 hours/week); January 2018 – July 2018 (with possible continuation).

❖ $600 bi-weekly stipend; $2,500 Education Award upon completion; other benefits.

❖ Participate in an exciting, new, skill-building heavy, neighborhood-based corps.

Everyday Boston
AmeriCorps member will lead story sharing and interviewing programs with youth (all ages) and coach educators.

East Boston Social Centers
AmeriCorps member will support teen leadership programs.

East Boston Neighborhood Health
AmeriCorps member will support the Let’s Get Movin’ (ages 11-14), obesity tackling, healthy lifestyle program.

Maverick Landing
AmeriCorps member will recruit volunteers and support youth in a STEM makerspace.


Send Kevin Ballen ( your resume or any questions. Mention interest in a specific organization above, if you have one. Individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences are strongly encouraged to apply.


Featured Story


Project Description

Social change is hard. Over the years social issue campaigners and activists have employed a variety of marketing and communications efforts to attract public interest to their issues and causes to varying degrees of success. More recently, activists have turned to the arts for inspiration and as a way to engage audiences through deep and emotional connections to create more powerful and meaningful interactions. At the same time, more artists are imbuing their work with social and political messaging to advance the issues they feel most passionate about.

Now that there is a growing body of work in the field, as well as a host of different training programs available to artists and activists, there is an opportunity to develop common definitions, best practices and a generic working theory-of-change model for artistic activism programs. What the Center for Artistic Activism is looking for are answers to the question “Do these practices work?” and what are the metrics we should use for measuring them?

The extended research report on Assessing the Impact of Artistic Activism, as well as a short summary:

Full Paper


Learn more about the Center for Artistic Activism:

The Prince Claus Fund supports artists, critical thinkers, and cultural organizations in spaces where freedom of cultural expression is restricted by conflict, poverty, repression, marginalisation or taboos. The Fund just launched a new initiative, The Next Generation.

“Our next step is a much more conscious effort to include a group that rarely has a voice in the larger discussion: youth. Young women and men are a tremendous resource in this rapidly changing world. They need to be welcomed into the discussion about issues that affect them and determine their futures. Their talents need to be developed and recognized.

So, I’m excited to share with you that we are launching an additional programme,The Next Generation, which aims to do just that. It will focus on inclusivity while celebrating differences, and on creating spaces for youth to tell their own stories. In this programme, young people will take the lead. Its fundamental principle is Prince Claus’s belief that development, growth and change can only come from people themselves.

We have received an additional four-year grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands for The Next Generation programme and we’re already starting our first steps. Drawing on our own experience and on that of our extensive network, The Next Generation programme fits right into our larger mission, using our effective methods of working in partnerships, through exchanges and open calls for grants.”

–Joumana El Zein Khoury

Director of the Prince Claus Fund
Learn more about the Prince Claus Fund:





For more information on upcoming events, please visit our website:


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Caminos de Paz Cases for Culture Cultural Agents Opportunities Partners Pre-Texts Rennaisance Now
January 2, 2018
by Rodriguez