Doris Sommer is Founder of Cultural Agents, Harvard University and Ira Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, Director of Graduate Studies in Spanish, Harvard University.
Founder of Harvard’s Cultural Agents Initiative, Sommer calls attention to art as a social resource, and she promotes best practices through workshops and public forums. Her book “takes inspiration from arts projects that merit more sustained reflection than they have gotten. Creative works on grand and small scales can morph into institutional innovation. Reflecting on them is a humanistic assignment insofar as the humanities teach interpretation of art (to identify points of view, attend to technique, to context, to competing messages, and evaluate aesthetic effects).’ Humanists ‘can fulfill a special mission by keeping aesthetics in focus, lingering with students and readers over the charmed moments of freely felt pleasure that enable fresh perceptions and foster new agreements’. Drawing on theorists, including Kant, Schiller, Dewey, and Rancière, among others, Sommer argues that aesthetic training fosters judgment and so sustains civic life in democracies.
Cases Sommer considers include Antanas Mockus in Bogota, Edi Rama in Tirana Albania, Augusto Boal in Brazil and the world.