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Encountering Texts

The Multicultural Theatre Project and «Minority» Literature

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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 3. Why This Method Works

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WHY THIS METHOD WORKS

The wealth of a common global culture will then be expressed in the particularities of our different languages and cultures very much like a universal garden of many-coloured flowers. The “flowerness” of the different flowers is expressed in their very diversity. But there is cross-fertilisation between them. And what is more, they all contain in themselves the seeds of a new tomorrow.

—Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’O (1993, p. 24)

The art of questioning is the art of questioning ever further—i.e., the art of thinking. It is called dialectic because it is the art of conducting a real dialogue.

—Hans-Georg Gadamer (1988, p. 375)

Figure 3.1: The MTP Dialectic. ← 19 | 20 →

The fact that minority literature has found a crucial place in the classrooms in university settings across the country is not in dispute here. As a corpus this literature has been integrated into course curriculum from introductory survey courses to authorial courses and colloquiums. There are many scholar teachers in the academy who are quite adept at teaching this literature toward this project’s aim in the classroom. However, I would like to propose that minority literature can be used with more vigor and intentionality as a framework for mediating transformative discourse about difference through arts-based critical pedagogy.

Literature honors the complex dimensionality of the human condition—social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, and physical realities of human...

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