The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities

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Cover of Doris Sommerís book The Work of Art in the World

Doris Sommer, Harvard Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures; Author, The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities; and Founder and Director, Cultural Agents ●

“The humanities need to be steered back to engagement with the world, "Doris Sommer writes. "The reformist projects that focus my attention develop momentum and meaning as they circulate through society to inspire faith in the possible. Among the cases that I covered in my presentation are top-down initiatives by political leaders, such as those launched by Antanas Mockus, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, and also bottom-up movements like the Theatre of the Oppressed, which was created by the Brazilian director, writer and educator Augusto Boal. Alleging that we are all cultural agents, I also created Pre-Texts, an international arts-literacy project that translates high literary theory through popular creative practices, and wrote The Work of Art in the World, which is informed by many writers and theorists. Foremost among them is the eighteenth-century German poet and philosopher Friedrich Schiller, who remains an eloquent defender of art-making and humanistic interpretation as essential to the construction of political freedom. Schiller's thinking runs throughout my modern-day call for citizens to collaborate in the endless co-creation of a more just and beautiful world.”

For more information please see Dr. Sommer's 2015 lecture for MIT's Arts, Culture and Technology’s here and her book The Work of Art in the World.