Janet Chwalibog

Associate Professor
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Janet Chwalibog teaches postcolonial, psychoanalytic, and feminist literary theories at Berklee College of Music. Her courses focus on writing and reading as creative acts that produce new knowledge as part of ongoing, centuries-long conversations that shape the world in which we live. Students in her classes explore practices and establish habits that remove barriers to creative work and unleash the creative unconscious. 

Chwalibog has worked extensively with creative artists, particularly musicians. Prior to her current position, she directed Berklee's faculty development program and led the creation, assessment, and revision of programs designed to create transformational learning experiences for faculty and enhance the available pedagogy, interdisciplinary collaborations, artistic expression, and professional opportunities. She developed $200,000 in faculty grants and fellowships as well as created one of the most rigorous faculty development programs in the country. Collaborations have included works with Steelgrass Recording Studios, Cindy Blackman, Terri Lyne Carrington, George Duke, and Siedah Garrett, among many others.

  • Career Highlights
    • Primary academic interests include fields of power, analysis of institutions and power structures, and how we relate to those systems and structures
  • Education
    • M.Div., Harvard University, comparative literature and cultural studies
    • B.A., Loyola University, philosophy and theology; minor in gender studies

In Their Own Words

"My teaching style is very interactive, so the first thing I begin with is an attempt to get to know students, why they’re at Berklee, what their goals are, and how the courses I teach are relevant in their learning process. Meeting them where they are is important for me. Second, I do a lot of peer and group work, giving students an opportunity to learn as much from one another as they do from me or the materials in the class. Finally, I think it’s really important that students learn to produce within deadlines, so we have very strict deadlines. I try to give students the resources and the support they need and to create an environment in which they can succeed."

"A lot of what I teach is related to unlearning some of the blocks to creativity that are taught in primary and high school education. All of my writing classes start with a free write, and we free write every class for up to 30 minutes. In doing that at the same time over weeks on the same days, students practice accessing their unconscious, quieting that editorial voice in their heads, and it separates the writing process from the editing process. Students have told me that that has a significant impact, for example, on their songwriting, that they’re able to be creative without editing themselves more often and more freely. So they have more access to material, not only in my class but in some of their other classes as well.

"In my classes, students are laying a foundation for accessing creativity, learning where creativity comes from and how to access their unconscious minds. The second foundation [I teach] is helping them feel established in the Berklee community so that they feel grounded and centered and like they can continue to learn."