Newsletter, June 2019

Upcoming Events

The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning will offer a Pre-Texts workshop at their 2019 Fall Teaching Conference (FTC). During the workshop, participants will get a taste of the Pre-Texts method, and think about how to use it in the Harvard classroom. It will be a short version of the 3-session workshop that Prof. Doris Sommer offers periodically at the Bok Center.

When: Aug. 29, 2019
Where: The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, 50 Church St., Cambridge, MA 02138

For more information, visit this link.

Cultural Agents is partnering with Boston Public Schools (BPS) to introduce Pre-Texts in elementary and middle school classrooms. In August, BPS teachers at The Perry School and Adams Elementary School will be trained in the Pre-Texts pedagogy and then implement it throughout the year in their classrooms.

When: Aug. 26-29, 2019

Where: The Perry School and Adams Elementary School, Boston, MA

Pre-Texts News

On June 19th, the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) celebrated the successes of Pre-Texts in Ireland, the program’s first European location.

Pre-Texts initially developed in Dublin around a year ago, bringing together artists, social workers, writers, professors, and others in a five-day intensive training course. The participants went on to apply their new expertise to the range of social environments in which they worked, including youth theaters, prisons, and adult education courses, throughout the year. The seed for Pre-Texts in Ireland was thus planted in the most fertile ground for it: among local, bottom-up community members and organizers with a concrete link to diverse groups within the city.

This seed grew into the recently launched publication “Pre-Texts in Ireland”, describing this process and some of its results, as well as the invitation to the Public Humanities Network meeting, a prequel to the larger annual CHCI meeting. Pre-Texts was represented by Emma O’Brien of the Technological University Dublin. The Network meeting was held in the soon-to-be-opened Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI), a partnership between the National Library of Ireland and University College Dublin. This mix of settings and purposes is nothing new to Pre-Texts, used to straddling the rigid institutional world and the applied reality of the “streets”. Inside the beautiful Georgian and Victorian townhouse that houses the MoLI, in front of a series of respected directors and coordinators of Humanities initiatives from all over the world, O’Brien shared Pre-Texts’ story of direct community engagement, adaptive pedagogy, and the belief in the creative potential of every person. She invited Pre-Texts’ facilitators, some of the only non-academics in the room, to share their experiences, for which they were publicly awarded certificates.

Pre-Texts was an important member of the afternoon of sharing: it served as a reminder to all participants, attending a meeting entitled “Cultural Interventions”, that the day’s themes and proposals were not only stimulating conversations, but also applied realities and processes happening in the city right around them.

For more information on the CHCI 2019 Annual Meeting, visit this link.

Camila Maciel and Doris Sommer had the pleasure of working on a Pre-Texts workshop with a wonderful group of engineers and physicians from Canada, Spain, USA and Chile. The workshop was part of the IDEA2 Global Kickoff Workshop at the MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.

Read more about IDEA2 Global here.

Our friend and colleague, Samuel Jaffee, Lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of Washington, presented a proposal for curriculum design around Pre-Texts at the 2019 UW Symposium on Teaching and Learning. His poster presentation was on Pre-Texts and Finales: Literature, Critical Thinking and Creative Projects.

Read more about Samuel Jaffee’s presentation on Pre-Texts here.

Featured News

Paco Ignacio Taibo II has recently been appointed to run the Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE) in Mexico. The FCE is a publishing house primarily funded by the Mexican government. Its prominence positions Taibo as a kind of culture minister. “Our job is to bring books that are cheap or even free to every corner of the country. Mexicans love to read; they just can’t afford it,” says Taibo.

His plan calls for literary events, fairs, and exhibitions held nationwide. He has ordered the rehabilitation of a small fleet of book buses that his predecessors left to rot, and he’s already using them to visit some of the more remote sections of the country, including in the epicenter of narco activity. Taibo has also signed agreements with foreign publishers that will cut their book prices in Mexico by half, and he plans on publishing scores of new titles, including plenty of fiction. “Our new fighting slogan is Una República de Lectores,” Taibo says—a republic of readers.

In August, Prof. Doris Sommer will be in Mexico speaking with the Secretary of Higher Education and with Ciudades más seguras (Safer Cities) in Guadalajara.

Read more about Paco Taibo’s Republic of Readers here.

Yo-Yo Ma seeks to cultivate art and discussion in communities around the world through the Bach Project, his tour of 36 cities and six different continents that seeks to explore how culture can better society. At each destination, Ma works with community leaders to organize a “Day of Action” that examines a prevailing issue. Recently, in Chicago, Ma asked, “How can we use culture to confront gun violence in the city?”

Read more about the Bach Project here.

Nicholas Negroponte, tech visionary and founder of the MIT Media Lab, was in Madrid in June for a talk on innovation. He spoke about his predictions for the future in an interview with El País:

So will there one day be real artificial intelligence that is self-aware? Negroponte says that this is the really important question, yet most people don’t ask it.

“I’m not sure I’ll see it in my lifetime. But before that, we’ll see machines with a sense of humor, and it will be amazing. Another question that I find interesting is: why do humans appreciate music?”

This pioneer in the field of computer-aided design defends the humanities in our hyper-technological world. “The humanities are the most important thing you can study.”

Read more here.

The Bloomsday Festival is an annual celebration of James Joyce’s modernist epic Ulysses. This world famous literary street carnival took place this year on June 11-16 in Dublin, the heart of the Hibernian metropolis, the city that inspired Joyce and his major works.

Read more here.

Rana Dijani is the founder of We Love Reading, a Jordanian non-profit organization that focuses on fostering a love of reading among children in Jordan and the rest of the world through establishing “a library in every neighbourhood.”

We Love Reading was designed so that it can be implemented in a variety of diverse settings – always taking the culture of the setting into consideration – to encourage children to view reading as a fun and leisurely activity, rather than an academic one. The impact of We Love Reading’s mission is especially imperative to the healthy development of children in conflict.

Read more about We Love Reading’s work here.

Cases for Culture Cultural Agents Department of Architecture Doris Sommer Italia Launch Videos Mental Health Opportunities Partners Pre-Texts Rennaisance Now Social Equity
June 4, 2019
by Rodriguez