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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 4. Praxis Matters: Embodying Texts


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Embodying Texts

I hope to dig. I hope to explore myself, and be in this setting to be explored by other people. I want to learn about bridging cultural barriers and about communication. … In my life I don’t invest enough time in myself, and I hope to dream in this experience, and to see “me” come to the surface, however unexpected or uncomfortable the process. I hope to be stretched out of my comfort zone.

—Corrie, MTP sophomore student, International Studies and SpanishPepperdine University Alumna 2004

In a conversation one does not know beforehand what will come out of it. … That is the measure of real conversation. Each remark calls for another, even what is called the “last word” does this, for in reality the last word does not exist. The fact that conversations lead us to better insights, that indeed they have a transformative power … what happens to one in a conversation is really without an end.

—Hans-Georg Gadamer (2001, p. 60)

Theatre as Method for Encounter

Gadamer’s emphasis on aesthetics is also important. Although many scholars tend to identify Gadamer’s project primarily with ontology and language, Gadamer (1988) later identifies his magnum opus Truth and Method as an attempt to experience a work of art. For Gadamer, art provokes the awakening of truth. The work itself “exemplifies the dialectic of distance and closeness ← 29 | 30 → and...

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