michaelgriffith (michaelgriffith) wrote,

Where Have I Been This Week?

I have been at an international conference in Surfer's Paradise!- Great location- Great Conference. The conference was called "Creative Communities: Sustainable Solutions to Social Inclusion".
I had to present a paper with the title: "Using web-based technologies to empower creativity in literature classes for the homeless and disadvantaged". Here is the title slide for my paper.

The paper was one of many exploring the ways in which the creative arts (literature, dance, art...) could be instrumental in assisting people with disadvantage to have access to more fulfilled lives. The emphasis was not on trying to turn the disadvantaged into middle-class high achievers but rather to create for them a space where they could share their experience, their creative gifts with those around them. It has always been my belief that people who live on the so-called "margins" of "successful" society, are often gifted with more down-to-earth humility than many high-achievers. All the great writers tell us this. Read Tolstoy (in "The Death of Ivan Illych" for example) and he shows us that it is the peasants, the underclass who are the salt of the earth, who have a deep understanding of what human beings really need. Read Dickens, he tells the same story in "Hard Times" with his character Sissy Jupe who was born and bred as a circus "ruffian". Read Sartre's "Saint Genet". Read Shakespeare's "King Lear" with his celebration of the wisdom of the Fool. Read Francis Webb's "Ward Two" poems with their vision of how the psychiatric outcasts of our society have an essential purity and integrity missing from all of us hell-bent on winning in the "rat-race".....http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A160609b.htm http://www.thylazine.org/archives/thyla9/thyla9c.html
So this conference that I attended was focussing on the question of how could marginalized people be "included" within their own terms as active, creative participants. There was a wonderful keynote address by a man who has worked for years in this area. His name is Francois Matarasso and it is well worth looking up his web site and hearing some of his amazing experiences with the marginalized: http://web.me.com/matarasso/one/Home.html.
I look forward to catching up with you all again for this second, shorter half of semester. I have my head down at the moment trying to complete some of this avalanche of marking that all 250 of you have produced in the last two weeks or so. See you next week.
For more about the conference go to:

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