CORE Spotlight: “Making the Covert Public” by Elizabeth E. Tavares

This featured CORE deposit by Elizabeth Tavares explores the use of digital pedagogy through podcasting in a course about early English performance. 


COVID forced educators to get creative with their methods of instruction. For those who wanted to maintain synchronous instruction, they had to consider the advantages and disadvantages of what that could look like virtually. For Elizabeth Tavares, the physical classroom and the theatre were the backdrops for her instruction prior to the pandemic. Unable to use either of those settings while teaching a course on Aphra Behn in Spring 2021, Tavares found podcasting to be a solution, allowing students to produce research-based work, create works relevant to the field of study, and maintain their own privacy. The assignment also allowed students to hone useful skills in the art and humanities: curating primary sources, telling a story, and reaching diverse audiences. Tavares reflected on this experience in “Making the Covert Public,” a blog post on the Humanities for All site; the CORE deposit preserves a copy of that post. 

I reached out to Tavares to learn more about the assignment, her pedagogical approach, and her presence on the Commons.


Has the creation of this course changed your perspective on what it means to teach theatre and the arts? If so, how?

As I discuss in the piece, “Making the Covert Public,” commissioned by the NEH’s Humanities for All blog, not until having to teach in a pandemic did I realize the extent to which the basic technology of the shared classroom neutralized some problematic gulfs of privilege. Pivoting to a synchronous online environment meant that, in order to cultivate any sense of space or embodiment necessary in the teaching of theatre, inevitably in the cards would be a request of students to relinquish privacy. It was ultimately a request I was not willing to make. Rather than try to make the zoom room something it was not, I decided to lean into it by leveraging the growing vocabulary around Public Humanities, Digital Humanities, and Podcast pedagogy.


What is the future of the course and podcast?

The course was a unique offering specifically designed to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the first public performance of a work by Aphra Behn, as well as the publication of the first in the multi-volume, The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Aphra Behn: Plays 1682–1696. The podcast was a limited series, hoping to amplify not only early modern women writers, but also the importance of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Theatre and Performance Department. The department was closed this year due to budget cuts at the museum despite housing some of the most important premodern archives in performance, especially by women. The elimination of access to these collections is being petitioned across the globe. The statement made by the Society for Theatre Research usefully summarizes the issue and provides resources.


What inspired you to share this document to the CORE repository?

I share all of my publications with the CORE repository in order to facilitate exchange in a not-for-profit platform with my peers, as well as to make potential future connections. I routinely find such platforms, in addition to Twitter, useful for not only connecting with experts, but also being commissioned for work.


How and why do you utilize communities and resources such as MLA Commons and CORE?

I was an early adopter of, eager to find work by colleagues when databases and other repositories either did not have what I needed, could not be sourced through inter-library loan services, or a paywall impeded access my previous institution, a small liberal arts college, could not afford. That platform became increasingly monetized, did not share its aggregated data, and withheld basic interface features unless a significant annual fee was incurred. I was made aware of MLA Commons by peers, as it provided all these same features as well as other kinds of community-building resources without a fee structure. The interface is also more sympathetic to the humanities, managing large amounts of content meaningfully and efficiently.


Tavares’s CORE deposit discusses how virtual instruction can provide opportunities for students in the arts and humanities to perform their crafts. Find other blog posts, syllabi, and course material in CORE, the open access repository available to Commons members to share materials across disciplines. Learn more about how to access and upload work in the introduction to CORE.


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