Teaching Intertextuality As Community Engagement

By B. Frantece

Many of us teach intertextuality in our courses. It’s a helpful composition strategy, right? As a way of incorporating someone’s idea (with proper citation of course!) into your own ideas and project– kind of as a way of acknowledging that we’re influenced by different people, texts, cultural arts, etc. I like to think of it as a way to put different ideas in conversation with each other and, in doing that, adding to the conversation.

Well, I was strolling down Instagram today, a recent hobby I’ve been practicing more and more lately, and I can across diana ballesteros’s illustrations inspired by the wisdom of adrienne maree brown. Both creators identify as revolutionaries and activists, and, in their own ways, their works are gifts with healing abilities. Their works often ask us how we can learn through moments of uncertainty and precarity.

brown’s lines are about lessons we can learn to survive the end of the world. For example, staying in the moment or finding creative ways to communicate. ballesteros’s illustrations take those words and show how they are embodied through insects. So ballesteros illustrates how crickets, for example, show us that music will get us through, which is a lesson brought forth by brown. Or how caterpillars show us that we need to rest sometimes.

What I love about this moment, and how I think it’s very pedagogical, is that it shows creation/ composition as is a communal effort. We are always speaking and listening to each other when we put forth works into the world. Many of us have heard that wise adage, “we don’t exist in a vacuum.” Some creators are actually embodying that. And not only does collaborative effort allow for interesting and clever projects, but it also serves as a way for us to learn from each other.

Also, art helps up through difficult times and so does community. How can we incorporate those ideas into our teaching practices?

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