Research in the Teaching of English
Volume 45, Number 3, February 2011
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Table of Contents
Editors’ Introduction: Semiotics in New Hard Times
Mark Dressman, Sarah McCarthey, and Paul Prior
Literacy and Schooling in One Family across Time
Abstract: Most research involving the analyses of discourses targets particular points in time or relatively short durations (i.e., one semester, one year). Failure to recognize the ways discourses operate over long periods of time limits the ability of educators and researchers to recognize the temporal nature of meaning construction. Through this longitudinal research project, I tracked discourses about literacy and schooling to document how events at multiple timescales (Lemke, 2000, 2001) converged in the literacy and schooling experiences of one student. Specifically, I asked how one African American middle-school student and members of her family drew upon and negotiated discourses related to past and ongoing experiences as well as larger social histories as they made sense of literacy and schooling. Based on data from an eight-year study, I applied grounded coding methods to identify and track discourses voiced in interview transcripts and field notes. Findings from the study suggest that discourses were taken up, challenged, modified, negotiated, and abandoned by participants across time. Participants drew on multiple, intertextual language resources within families and other social contexts to make sense of themselves and their experiences recursively as they recalled, neglected, revisited, and forgot particular stories and eventsand identified familiar social types.
One Adolescent’s Construction of Native Identity in School: “Speaking with Dance and Not in Words and Writing”
Amy Alexandra Wilson and Michael D. Boatright
Abstract: This case study describes how one eighth-grade student, Jon, asserted Native identities in texts as he attended a middle school in the western United States. Jon—a self-described Native American, Navajo, and Paiute with verified Native ancestry—sought to share what he called his Native culture with others in his school wherein he was the only Native American, despite his perception that schools have historically suppressed this culture. To study how the texts that Jon designed in school may have afforded and constrained the expression of Native identities, the authors collected three types of data over the course of eight months: (a) interviews from Jon and his teachers; (b) fieldnotes from classroom observations; and (c) texts that Jon designed in school. Grounded in theories of social semiotics and multimodality, the findings from this study suggest that different forms of representation afforded and constrained the expression of Jon’s desired identities in different ways due to their different physical properties, due to their historical and immediate uses in context, and due to the extent to which they fulfilled different metafunctions of communication. Recognizing the tensions and ironies associated with using some forms of representation, Jon sought to combine and use multiple representations to construct desired identities and to negate undesired ones.
Television, Language, and Literacy Practices in Sudanese Refugee Families: “I learned how to spell English on Channel 18”
Kristen H. Perry and Annie M. Moses
Abstract: This ethnographic study explored the ways in which media, particularly television, connected with English language and literacy practices among Sudanese refugees in Michigan. Three families with young children participated in this study. Data collection included participant observation, interviews, and collection of artifacts over 18 months, with a focus on television events as the units of analysis. Data analysis focused on television practices connected with literacy practices for adults and children. Results indicated that television offered important cultural connections with participants’ beliefs, values, and attitudes regarding their Sudanese heritage, the new U.S. context, and religious practices. Both adults and children believed television was an important resource for learning and recognized potential problems with too much viewing. Most significantly, analysis suggested important connections between television practices and the development of both English language abilities for all family members and the development of real-world literacy practices, especially for the children.
Common Knowledge, Learning, and Citation Practices in University Writing
Abstract: The present study is based on interviews of students (n=48) and instructors (n=27) from various disciplines in a North American research university and explores participants’ comments on examples of some students’ unacknowledged texts appropriated and drawn from published sources, classroom learning, or unidentified prior reading. Although many participants agreed that sources for some of these appropriated texts should be cited, they were split in their views about others. Chi-square values on the frequencies of these citation choices suggested complexity and high variability within groups of participants. In explaining their judgments, participants expressed various grounds for citation in relation to the notion of common knowledge, the audience effect, and the role of memory. The study suggests that motivations and considerations that might lead to citing or not citing are not apparent or subject to a consensus among people who share the same expertise, status, or language and cultural background.
Announcing the 2010 Alan C. Purves Award Recipient (Volume 44)
Scott Filkins, Delores Lloyd, and Samantha Looker (2010 Award Committee)
Abstract: The 2010 Alan C. Purves Award Committee is pleased to announce this year’s award recipient, Elizabeth Dutro. Her article, “What ‘Hard Times’ Means: Mandated Curricula, Class-Privileged Assumptions, and the Lives of Poor Children” (RTE Vol. 44, No. 3, February 2010), is an exemplary source of thorough research and much-needed pedagogical strategy encouraging the creation of curricula grounded in students’ lived realities.
The 2010 NCTE Presidential Address: To Cherish the Interests of Literature
Abstract: Carol Jago’s presidential address, delivered at the NCTE Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida, on November 21, 2010.