Myths for Mutual Pedagogy 7: Carry

You are filling in for a colleague’s class on Ancient Roman Religion and you are teaching the topic of the 186 BCE ban on the Bacchanalia by the Roman senate.

In addition to the students enrolled in the class, you invite any other Classics students, both undergraduates and graduates, to participate, as well as opening the class to members of the public.

The people – not, for this class, defined as students – are invited to enter the classroom and to sit on high levels. Drums are playing and they sit facing each other, where they can look across at one another for a long time.

You then ask: “Would anyone volunteer to choose a person and carry them through this passage?” After a pause, someone may jump down, select someone else, and very simply carry them. The drumming rhythm, the lights and the carrying action begin to work together. This kind of activity may be continued very simply, and begin to include “Will two people carry one person?”, “Will five people carry two people?”, etc.

You may add new directions on the spot as a result of what is happening. “Will those of you who want to be carried stand in the passage and wait?” After much waiting: “Will those who volunteer carry those who want to be carried?” People will realize the primitive, archetypal connotations of this act (carried in the womb, bride carried across the threshold, pope carried to altar, corpse carried to grave, etc), and how the scene, especially when it seemed to resemble a Bacchanalia, was suffused with a ritualistic quality.

The class can be concluded with an action that involves everyone either carrying or being carried. This kind of class is very movement oriented, yet, at the same time, is is extremely controlled by the instructions.

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