Teaching Beyond the Text: Incorporating Artists into the Humanities Classroom

Tyler Bunzey, Ph.D., Cultural Studies, Johnson C. Smith University

This seminar will provide classroom strategies for teaching beyond the traditional text-focused pedagogies of the humanities classroom. Many primary, secondary, and post-secondary teachers are trained to teach the humanities primarily through texts, which generally refer to written works but can also refer to other forms of expression such as films, songs, paintings, etc. However, privileging the text over other forms of learning—such as creative expression or community engagement—can eclipse and even erase the cultural foundations of the very texts we try to teach. This seminar will provide multiple concrete strategies of how to create culturally responsive pedagogies in the humanities classroom beyond the text. The seminar will cover three primary strategies to this end. First, a good portion of this seminar will focus on how to involve artists and artistic communities in the teaching of their work, drawing from my experience incorporating artists from the hip-hop and fashion communities in research and pedagogy including classroom experiences with hip-hop artists like Rapsody, Talib Kweli, and Rah Digga and fashion designers such as April Walker and Dapper Dan. This first objective will be responsive policy constrictions such as Senate Bill 49, known as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights.” Second, I will address how to team up with local art institutions and art communities to create educational pathways between the public school classroom and the local arts community. Third, I will provide concrete digital resources for culturally responsive pedagogy beyond in-person collaboration. Participants will leave this seminar with multiple strategies of engaging the humanities beyond the text that can be implemented reasonably in a public school classroom.