Bread Loaf Acting Ensemble in New Mexico
For the first time, we are bringing the revolutionary pedagogy developed by the Bread Loaf Acting Ensemble to the New Mexico campus. Longtime ensemble member Jonathan Fried will head the ensemble’s New Mexico branch, working with faculty and actors to integrate performance into classrooms, opening new windows onto texts of all sorts. The ensemble will also add to the cocurricular program, with staged readings that draw on New Mexico’s unique cultural heritage.
Is American democracy under attack? This question served as a touchstone for an ambitious week of public events held this past summer on the Bread Loaf Vermont campus. Organized by professor Doug Jones, Democracy Week generated four conversations about the state of democracy in American classrooms.
Students of Color group leaders Stacey Mitchell King, Tyren Bynum MA ’17, and Marco Rodarte MA ’17 kicked off the first event by leading small-group discussions on methods of teaching about cultural sensitivity and how to approach texts that use objectionable language. The next evening, Brown University professor Jasmine Johnson led a large-group discussion about democracy and teaching in the university classroom, fielding questions about the importance of Africana studies outside of academia and the role of violence in a democratic state. The third evening brought together a panel of esteemed Bread Loaf faculty—Robert Sullivan, Amy Hungerford, and David Huddle—who read poems and reflected on the importance of poetry as a tool of democracy. And on the last evening, Professor Jones’s students used a fishbowl method of audience participation to run a rousing town hall forum, which specifically addressed grade school teachers’ concerns about democracy.
The variety of ways of engaging with the theme kept these events interesting, but the takeaways made them invaluable. We were introduced to stimulating new poems and pedagogies, we learned strategies for best classroom practices, and we engaged thoughtfully with theories of democracy. If attacking American democracy means publicly, rigorously, and critically interrogating its meaning and relevance today, then Bread Loafers engaged in a full-on assault during Democracy Week on the mountain.
NCTE in St. Louis
Bread Loaf teachers promise to make a mark at the 2017 National Council of Teachers of English convention in St. Louis from November 16–19. A number of current and former Bread Loafers are presenting, including Janine Fujioka, Laura Jagles MA ’04, MLitt ’16, Amber Robins MA ’16, Greg Booth, Derek Burtch, Claudia Eschelbach, Chris Moore MA ’13, Gary Metzenbacher, Andrea Dodge Vescelius, Ceci Lewis MA ’99, Lorena German MA ’14, David Wandera MA ’08, MLitt ’13, Rex Lee Jim MA ’01, Bill Rich MA ’99, and Tim O’Leary MA ’07. In addition, Bread Loaf will have a spot in the exhibit hall and will host a gathering for Bread Loaf attendees.