Use Text to Make Art: An Introduction to Pre-Texts Methodology


Thursday, March 5, 2020, 3:00pm to 6:00pm

Repeats every day, 3 times


Bok Center, 125 Mt Auburn St. 3rd Floor

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

Pre-Texts Are you interested in creative ways of engaging with texts in the Harvard classroom? In this session 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.

3 sessions (in sequence)
Wednesday 4 March, Thursday 5 March, and Friday 6 March, 3–6pm
Bok Center, 125 Mt Auburn St. 3rd Floor