Teaching art students to be critical participants in culture

– from Billi London-Gray

I stumbled across a reference to James Berlin’s Rhetorics, Poetics and Cultures recently; the reference credited Berlin with writing, “We should want students to become critical participants in the world, and not just consumers of it.” So I looked up Berlin’s work, and found a PDF of the complete Rhetorics text: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED395315.pdf

This text, written in the early 90s and published in 1996, offers a critique of the teaching of English (specifically rhetoric) in American colleges and universities and a perspective on how this discipline contributes to the political life of our culture. I’m interested in finding similarly structured essays on how the teaching and study of art at the college level contributes to the political life of our culture. If you find something like that, please post a link or title/author info in the comments.

I think most art students intuit that artists are critical participants in their culture – perhaps they initially articulate this as a stereotype, that artists must march to the beat of their own drum – but I wonder how they realize their own roles as critical cultural participants? Is this something that is (or should be) explicitly taught as part of undergraduate art courses?

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About utagtateaching

This blog is dedicated to providing resources to the Graduate Teaching Assistants in the UTA MFA program pertaining to teaching strategies, methods, and materials. We aim to start a public discussion that serves to enhance the classroom experience for both teacher and student.

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