Doris Sommer

Curriculum Vitae

Doris Sommer, Director of the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University, is Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies.  Her academic and outreach work promotes development through arts and humanities, specifically through “Pre-Texts” in Boston Public Schools, throughout Latin America and beyond. Pre-Texts is an arts-based training program for teachers of literacy, critical thinking, and citizenship. Among her books are Foundational Fictions: The National Romances of Latin America (1991) about novels that helped to consolidate new republics; Proceed with Caution when Engaged by Minority Literature (1999) on a rhetoric of particularism; Bilingual Aesthetics: A New Sentimental Education (2004); and The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities (2014).  Sommer has enjoyed and is dedicated to developing good public school education. She has a B.A. from New Jersey's Douglass College for Women, and Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

Additional Positions: 

co-Chair of Hispanic Seminar, Mahindra Center; co-Chair of Humanitarian and Cultural Initiative, Mahindra Center
Harvard Committees:
Executive Committee DRCLAS; American Studies; EMR; Public Service; Public Health; SAI; MLA Working Group on K–16 Alliances
Editorial Board Member:
Cuadernos de Literatura; transmodernity; habanaelegante; Modern Language quarterly 
Advisor: "Strategy of Mind".

New course for Fall 2015: Spanish 245: Artes en Movimiento 

Reviews for Doris Sommer's latest publication, The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities:

"Celebrating art and interpretation that take on social challenges, Doris Sommer looks to steer the humanities back to engagement with the world. Among the cases that she covers are top-down initiatives of political leaders, such as those launched by Antanas Mockus, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, and also bottom-up movements like the Theatre of the Oppressed created by the Brazilian director, writer, and educator Augusto Boal. This inspiring book is filled with models, sources, and ideas that can be adapted and adopted to inform teaching and research about activist art and creativity, finds Anna Upchurch." The London School of Economics and Political Science Review of Books Blog.

Robin Becker, "Art for a Change," Academe, November - December 2014

Patrícia Vieira, "What are the Humanities For?" The Los Angeles Review of Books, September 17, 2014 

See Prof. Sommer's talk: "Cultural Agents All" from Harvard Thinks Big

See Prof. Sommer's Romance Languages and Literatures page for contact information.