The Boston University Writing Program has been one of the most important influences on my pedagogy to date. As a fellow from 2014-2015, I participated in over two semesters worth of professional development seminars, and designed freshman composition courses on specialized topics related to contemporary art and craft. One of program's many indispensable resources is their annual journal, WR, which publishes exceptional student essays from Boston University writing courses. Instructors are encouraged to incorporate its articles into their lesson plans for students to use as attainable models of the textbook's teachings in action. Needless to say, I was thrilled when the editors selected an essay by Eva G., a student from my course WR100-K9, When Cultures Collide: Global Perspectives in Contemporary Art!
Eva's essay, "Passive Objectification: Vulnerability in Yoko Ono's Participatory Art," was one of 13 selected out of 429 submissions. Yes, you read that correctly: 13 out of 429! The way I was running around the department boasting about her success, you would have thought it was my own article that had been published. In my Instructor's Introduction, I elaborate further on why Eva's essay was so successful, and how it may serve as constructive model for other students:
"Writing is an inherently participatory, communal act, as a scholar can only form a meaningful argument in dialogue with other artists and authors. Students in WR 100, “When Cultures Collide: Global Perspectives in Contemporary Art,” directly addressed this issue of participation in their third paper assignment, which asked them to contextualize an international visual artist’s work against relevant theories of interactive art. Yoko Ono, an artist renowned for her individuality, nuance, and grace, seemed a natural choice for Eva Gallagher, who exhibits these same qualities in her sophisticated prose.
"Eva’s essay is notable for its dexterous treatment of multiple types of sources. A historical performance such as Ono’s Cut Piece must be contemplated through its documentation: videos, photographs, and an “event score” or script that dictates the action. Eva met this challenge by translating her visual source materials into lush descriptions, which in turn, she interpreted using the theoretical texts assigned for class. She further expanded the discussion to include carefully selected sources from her own research. Perhaps Eva’s nuanced approach to these visual and textual materials stems from her concurrent work in graphic design: her composition Puddle Illusions adorns the cover of this issue of WR. Ultimately, Eva’s conclusion links Ono’s proto-feminist examination of gender to contemporary feminist efforts, such as the “free the nipple” campaign on social media. In so doing, Eva reveals how Ono’s piece transcends its original 1960s iteration to illuminate urgent contemporary concerns, both within and beyond academia and the art world."