Pre-Texts in Ireland


For the 2018 summer session of Aceti’s Comparative Cultural Policy and Administration course, which later took students to Dublin and London, Pre-Texts chose Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish as raw material for training. Facilitated at Harvard’s Peabody Museum, the workshop once again offered opportunities to connect the museum’s exhibits to the target text as students developed confidence in speaking and writing while exercising their creative skills towards academic and professional goals. The first session began as always, with ice breakers, followed by the text read out loud as participants designed book covers. After book covers, everyone asked a 

question of the text, so that students had the chance to examine it both for basic language use and for high-order concepts. They later led a gallery “amoeba tour” of the Peabody's third floor: each student took a turn to adopt a line from Foucault for interpreting an object on display and then guided the others to reflect on the proposed connection. In another particularly effective student-designed activity, the novice facilitators selected keywords from the text and randomly assigned them to participants. The participants then had to write a poem of at least six lines from phrases in the text to develop references to the assigned word. After each poem was read out loud, the group had a round table discussion about how some words stimulated similar poems and what that indicated about themes of the text. It was especially useful for the Chinese students as a mature and meaningful way to build vocabulary. "What Did We Do?", a key Pre-Texts moment that concludes every activity, requires participants to share reflections on the particular process. It caught on quickly, with outspoken and insightful comments from the Chinese students who appreciated the responsibility to speak, which relieved a hesitation to use English publicly.


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