Newsletter, March 2020

Highlighted Events

Pre-Texts at the Bok Center
Use Text to Make Art: An Introduction to Pre-Texts Methodology

A Pre-Texts workshop led by Doris Sommer, Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies, and Thomas Wisniewski, Bok Pedagogy Fellow, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning Lecturer on Comparative Literature, will be held over 3 sessions on March 4th, 5th and 6th from 3-6pm at the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.

Are you interested in creative ways of engaging with texts in the Harvard classroom? In this workshop you will get a taste of the Pre-Texts method, and think about how to use it. With the single prompt: “Use this text to make art,” human capacities fire up and connect with one another. This innovative methodology dispels students’ fear of “difficult” texts because readers become users of the material. Classic literature or scientific documents turn into raw material for personal interpretations. Pre-Texts inverts the conventional order of learning that goes from basic information towards higher order understanding. Starting with the basics — such as grammar and vocabulary — is boring, and we lose students before they scale up to understanding, interpretation, creativity. With Pre-Texts, students begin with the challenge to create something original from a difficult text. To do that, basic information turns into a useful resource that artists appropriate. During the workshop, participants will explore a simple protocol that delivers profound results for teaching and learning practically anything and for negotiating difficult moments in everyday life.

Participation in the three sessions of Pre-Texts will be considered equivalent to one Bok Seminar for graduate students pursuing either a Bok Teaching Certificate or Bok Certificate in Teaching Language and Culture.


A Conversation with Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
March 31st, 6-7:30pm, DRCLAS Room S216

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, author of Children of the Land, will be speaking at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS), Room S216, on March 31st from 6:00-7:30pm. He will be launching his new book with a talk, signing and reception co-sponsored by the Immigration Initiative at Harvard (IIH) with DRCLAS, Cultural Agents, and the Committee on Ethnicity, Migration and Rights at Harvard.

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is the author of Cenzontle, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. prize (BOA editions 2018), winner of the 2019 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award in poetry, a finalist for the Norther California Book Award and named a best book of 2018 by NPR and the New York Public Library. As one of the founders of the Undocupoets campaign, he is a recipient of the Barnes and Noble “Writers for Writers” Award. He holds a B.A. from Sacramento State University and was the first undocumented student to graduate from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan. His work has appeared or is featured in The New York Times, The Paris Review, People Magazine, and PBS Newshour, among others. He lives in Marysville, California where he teaches poetry to incarcerated youth and also teaches at the Ashland University Low-Res MFA program.

For more information:

Pre-Texts with the Secretary of Culture in Bogotá

Prof. Doris Sommer and Jasmin Ippolit, with the support of ALARI, will be traveling to Colombia this month to facilitate a Pre-Texts training with Bogotá public libraries and Cultura ciudadana. They will also be working with Banco de la República and the new Ministry of Science and Technology.

Pre-Texts News

Pre-Texts in Nairobi

A preliminary Pre-Texts workshop was held at the Nairobi Arboretum in Kenya on Friday, January 17th, 2020 and included the participation of teachers from several local schools including State House Primary School and Jabali School. There was also participation from local artists Joan Atieno and David Thuku. Both artists have been teaching art to young Kenyans for quite some time.

The workshop was led by Tom Osborn, as part of a pilot program that will pave the way for a full course Pre-Texts workshop later in the year. The participants of the workshop were able to share their views at each stage of the process, stating that it was an enjoyable and engaging experience that they would be able to immediately implement with their students.

A follow up workshop will be held at the same location with a wider audience in the summer of 2020.

Pre-Texts at the Unidad Educativa Sathya Sai in Ecuador

Los pasados 5, 6 y 7 de febrero realizamos un Taller Pre-Textos, en el marco del proceso de educación alternativa del colegio Sathya Sai, de la ciudad de Bahía de Caraquéz, Manabí, Ecuador. Este taller fue posible gracias a la alianza de la Fundación Agentes Culturales Bogotá con la Cátedra Unesco Educación Cultura y Sociedad de la Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, en dirección de Carlos García, quien facilitó este espacio. La Cátedra Unesco de la UTPL y las directivas del colegio Sathya Sai )Alfredo Harmsen y Chantal Lafontaine) hacen parte de la Mesa Nacional de Educación en Valores del Gobierno de Ecuador, mesa en la que la Fundación participó el año pasado con la ponencia de la profesora Victoria Mena en el encuentro realizado en el mes de diciembre en la ciudad de Guayaquil. Tuvimos la oportunidad de compartir saberes y prácticas con maestros y rectores de colegios de la región,  fuertemente golpeada por el terremoto de 2015. Juntamos esfuerzos para reconstruir poco a poco el tejido social y el proyecto colectivo de la comunidad.
– Diana Corradine

Pre-Texts at the Harvard Ed Portal

On February 22nd, Suzanne Paszkowski and Emilia Pfannl facilitated a Pre-Texts workshop with 25 Harvard undergraduate students at the Harvard Ed Portal. The students provide one-on-one and small group after-school mentoring to students from Allston-Brighton and will be incorporating Pre-Texts activities into their work this semester. Suzanne and Emilia will also be offering a Pre-Texts Club for 3rd-5th grade students from Allston-Brighton schools at the Harvard Ed Portal every Thursday from 4-5pm starting on March 5th.

Cultural Agents News

A Conversation with Artist and Activist Yehimi Cambrón

On Thursday, Feb. 27th, artist and activist Yehimi Cambrón spoke at Winthrop House. The event was co-sponsored by the Immigration Initiative at Harvard, Cultural Agents, Winthrop House, the Institute of Politics Citizenship Tutoring Program and the Committee on Ethnicity, Migration and Rights at Harvard.

Yehimi Cambrón was born in Michoacán, México and raised in Atlanta. Cambrón’s artwork focuses on celebrating the humanity and resilience of immigrants. Her series Family Portrait was displayed at Atlanta‘s High Museum of Art as part of the exhibit Of Origins and Belonging, Drawn from Atlanta from June 1 to September 29, 2019. She was recently awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient in partnership with the City of Hapeville to paint a mural in the city in March of 2020. Cambrón became the second artist selected to create a cover for the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Book of Lists 2019-2020 with her piece ATL: The City of Street Art.

In October 2019, the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta selected Cambrón as the recipient of the “Distinguished Mexicans” award and silver medal from the Institute of Mexicans Abroad. In 2018 and 2019, the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce named Cambrón among the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia. She was recently selected as the winner for the Living Walls, The City Speaks’ Laura Patricia Calle Grant with her project Monuments: Our Immigrant Mothers. Cambrón painted this mural in 2019 in the heart of Decatur, Georgia as a visual affirmation that celebrates immigrant mothers and the intersectionality of the immigrant community. This mural was selected Best Mural in Atlanta by Creative Loafing in 2019.

Cases for Culture Cultural Agents Department of Architecture Doris Sommer Italia Launch Videos Mental Health Opportunities Partners Pre-Texts Rennaisance Now Social Equity
March 4, 2020
by Rodriguez