Pre-Texts at William & Mary

The College of William & Mary

Williamsburg, VA , U.S.

October 12-14, 2017. Cultural Agents is excited to announce the launch of its newest campaign: Literacy Brigades! Doris Sommer, Jose Falconi, Polly Lauer, and Lolo Gonzalez traveled to the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA on Thursday, October 12. That evening, Doris presented to a group of students, faculty, and administrators, introducing the idea of Literacy Brigades. Inspired by Nicaraguan and Cuban literacy brigades, Depression-era Kentucky librarians, Federico García Lorca’s La Barraca, and Colombia’s Biblioburro, these literacy brigades will be a US-focused team of Pre-Texts facilitators who travel across the US to areas with low literacy, providing Pre-Texts trainings for local educators and leaders to bring back to their classrooms.

The following day, Doris and Naseema Mohamed led a mini one-day Pre-Texts workshop to introduce 25 professors and administrators at the College to Pre-Texts. Participants came from a variety of departments, including Modern Languages and Literatures; Physics; Philosophy; Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies; and the Center for Liberal Arts. Using Federalist Paper no. 10, the group saw the beauty of Pre-Texts as way to use academic texts as a vehicle for discussing contemporary issues. Traditional Pre-Texts activities included asking question of the text, statues, and tangent texts. As this was a one-day, four-hour workshop, there was only time for one participant-led activity. Hispanic Studies Professor Jon Riofrio created a rhetoric competition; he assigned teams of four to one paragraph that they had to argue was the most important out of the entire excerpt. Using traditional rhetoric, rap, and creative performance, the teams shared laughs and insights with one another during the competition. During the “What did we do?” rounds that followed each activity, participants constantly returned to their delight at how effectively Pre-Texts allowed to them approach sensitive issues in an academic way. Many noted that they look forward to integrating these strategies into their future curricula.

Cultural Agents looks forward to continuing this relationship and to leading a full five-day workshop series at the College in 2018. Special thanks to Silvia Tandeciarz, Teresa Longo, and Ben Boone for coordinating the logistics.


Silvia Tandeciarz