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Encountering Texts

The Multicultural Theatre Project and «Minority» Literature


Joi Carr

Encountering Texts represents the theory and praxis uncovered through an ongoing interdisciplinary arts-based critical pedagogy that engages students in critical self-reflection (disciplined, sustained thinking, requiring engagement) on difference. The Multicultural Theatre Project (MTP) is a dialogical encounter with literature through the dramatic arts. This book provides a blueprint for the multiple ways in which this enacted theory/method can be utilized as a high impact practice toward transformative learning. The significance of minority literature as fertile testing ground for raising and seeking to answer questions about difference is undisputed. To address this dynamic, this research utilizes Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutical method of understanding to engage students in the interpretive process using theatre as methodology. Gadamer’s concept, described as a fusion of horizons, provides a methodological approach by which students can bring their own «effective history» to the hermeneutical task. He argues that hidden prejudices keep the interpreter from hearing the text. Thus an awareness of these prejudices leads to an openness that allows the text to speak. The MTP facilitates this kind of subjectivity by engaging the interpreter holistically. This integrative work provides a promising pragmatic interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that creates bridges to liberatory knowledge, both cognitively and affectively.
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Chapter 1. Introduction: Encountering Self


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Encountering Self

It stretches you, makes you think the unthinkable, project yourself into people you even dislike. … It makes you stay in touch with yourself; I guess it’s like going under water for me, the danger, yet I’m certain I’m going to come up.

—Toni Morrison (Taylor-Guthrie, 1994, p. 45)

I conclude with the openness with which I began this inquiry, by asserting that some of the learning that took place in this project is immeasurable—the healing, the loving, the exploration, the emancipation, the hope, and the reverberations …

—Joi Carr (Chapter 10)

Talking Books

I remember the first time I read Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. I was so moved and riveted by the first words he utters, “I am an invisible man.” I could not put the text down. While I read, I cried, I shouted, I moaned, I hummed, I sang, I danced, and I prayed. I was haunted, even now as I remember. When I finished the book, I was full, full of hope, full of curiosity, full of my Ghanaian father, full of my West Indian, French, Native American, Russian, African American mother—I could hear her beautiful laughter, her quiet, incessant giggle, feel her joy, see my father’s face, hear his musical accent and tone, feel his passion ← 1 | 2 → for language and words. I thought, “What just happened?” I was absorbed by the...

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