Addressing Injustices
Addressing Injustices
Addressing Injustices brings together teachers and youth to read, write, make art, and change the world.
 
 

Freeing Fahrenheit 451

In early 2019, eighth grade students from Delta Senior Alternative School and teacher candidates from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto read Ray Bradbury’s (1953) dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451. This canonical text, often taught in schools, explores a futuristic America where censorship is paramount, knowledge restricted, and all literature is outlawed and destroyed. Inspired by the text and alert to the current local and global crises, students and teacher candidates developed creative responses to disrupt notions of the canon and resist colonial logics related to whose stories get told and whose get erased, and in what ways. Participants made Fahrenheit 451 their own, literally and figuratively. They re-made and re-storied the novel through arts practices that represent individual and collective critical interpretations in relation to current social and political injustices. Free 451 is a compilation of whiteout poems that students and teachers made in response to, and on the pages of, Fahrenheit 451.

 
 
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What We Did

Our initial activities to disrupt the canon involved participants making white-out poems and remix poems. The white-out poems were made entirely from the text of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Each page of the novel became a poem composed by Delta students and teacher candidates; the poems and the process of creating them were a way to investigate censorship, literary canons, and the creative possibilities of resistance. Each participant also remixed an intimate text that they want to preserve from their personal canon with Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Canada’s Arson & Other Fires laws, and the Firefighter Code of Ethics.

Continuing with our inquiry into different ways we might interact with texts, students and teacher candidates were invited to focus on sound and hearing. After listening exercises and discussions around what centring this sense feels like and what it might offer us, Delta students and teacher candidates looked for and imagined sound in Fahrenheit 451. Together we wondered how hearing, which can act as a bridge between distance and embodied senses, might influence the reading of a text. How might sound and imagining sound bring the words off the page and towards us as well as give us a chance to re-read and remix the text? Students and teacher candidates made radio plays (listen to a few below) where they chose, composed, and remixed sound to accompany readings of excerpts from the text.

 Pushing the notion of remix further, we loaded excerpts and short sounds from these radio plays into a DJing app called Launchpad (Novation). This app allows us to loop, layer, and add effects to the sound work.

What it Looked Like: Project-Making

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