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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 10. Discovering Through Assessment


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I think I just realized that everyone has history … even regular Americans, who feel like they don’t … you know because some people feel that they’re kind of culture less here, but it’s all important to God.

—LaShawna, MTP first-year student, French

MTP has helped me discover that there are various ways to start a revolution (smile). It’s amazing to see first-hand the way art can affect people. People in tears have told me how much our words, our actions, have made an impact on them, and given them insights on diversity that they hadn’t previously had. It’s a wonderful feeling to know you have affected people for the better.

—Eboni, MTP junior student, English Pepperdine University Alumna 2002

MTP’s Emerging Picture: Learning Best Practices

Your institutional learning outcomes and your core competencies should drive the strategy you employ. In other words, your project outcomes should be squarely aligned with your institution’s mission and concomitant goals. Assessment is one major prong toward capturing a comprehensive picture of an institution’s health. The assessment process provides an opportunity for reflection and, if facilitated well, provides indicators and measures that can drive institutional transformation. Although your work may be a small aspect of the greater picture, program assessment is the strongest way to discover if the strategy you employ is actually working and what aspect of the strategy should be modified for more...

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