Pre-Texts: The Arts Teach (Anything)

Speakers: Doris Sommer (FAS), Gigi Luk (HGSE), Viviane Gontijo (FAS), and Adriana Gutiérrez (FAS)

Date: Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Location: Boylston Hall 110 – Fong Auditorium

Arts is not only for appreciation. It can be used as a tool bridging content to audience. Through activities and interactions, content knowledge is shared with the instructors and learners, breaking the barriers of language and literacy proficiency.

Pre-Texts is a program for education professionals to employ close reading and critical thinking skills by making art [visual, performance, literary, etc.] based on challenging texts. The pleasures of creative interpretation fuel admiration for difference among participants from diverse racial, cultural, and gender positions. Pre-Texts facilitators note remarkable learning outcomes, unique ways of evaluating students, as well as time-saving strategies for preparing lessons and reaching objectives.

With ample time for discussion, instructors can explore ways to introduce Pre-Texts into various disciplines and curricula.


Doris Sommer, Director of the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University, is Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies. Her academic and outreach work promotes development through arts and humanities, specifically through “Pre-Texts” in Boston Public Schools, throughout Latin America and beyond.

Gigi Luk is Associate Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She investigates bilingual consequences using both behavioral and neuroimaging techniques. In addition to investigating the science of bilingualism, Luk has examined how to harness scientific findings on bilingualism to improve educational experience for children from diverse language backgrounds.

Viviane Gontijo coordinates the Portuguese Language Program at the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Her interdisciplinary research on language education encompasses: psycholinguistics and the sociocultural aspects of language learning; language anxiety, investigating the extensive way in which this emotional factor hingers learning and; language pedagogy, evaluating teaching approaches and materials for foreign and heritage languages.

Adriana Gutiérrez is Senior Preceptor in Romance Languages and Literature in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Her research interests include: Development of Multi-Media Cultural Materials for the Teaching of Spanish; Twentieth-Century Spanish and Latin American Literature; Curriculum Development for Spanish Language and Literature; Teaching Methodology in Second Language Acquisition; Oral History; Cultural and Gender Studies Related to U.S. Latina Women.