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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 9. Arts-Based Critical Pedagogy: Strategies for the Classroom

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ARTS-BASED CRITICAL PEDAGOGY

Strategies for the Classroom

Traditional assessment tools like an exam, a research paper, or an in-class quiz cannot fully capture the scope of affective maturation and deep liberatory learning, although I do not doubt that this kind of “magic” happens in the classroom, even if it is sometimes behind our backs. I have had to learn to trust my students to make meaning of their educational experiences when and if they can. Yet I am often astounded by the complex journeys some of our students have traversed with grace and sometimes survived through sheer will; and, over the years, I have only been privy to some of their stories by happenstance—that is, when “something” during the course of class discussion provokes critical reflection and a student dares to share. I noticed that students often reflect on material personally and share anecdotally after I give them permission to do so. This kind of dialogical encounter is valuable and allows students to connect with course material in profound ways.

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