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2013 August RTE, v48.1

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Level(s): College, Elementary, Middle, Secondary

ISBN/ISSN: 0034-527X


Research in the Teaching of English
Volume 48, Number 1, August 2013

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Editors’ Introduction: Tracing the Movement of Literacies Across, Within, and Around

Ellen Cushman and Mary Juzwik

Traveling Literacies: Multilingual Writing on the Move
Rebecca Lorimer Leonard
Abstract: This essay explores the lived literacy experiences of four multilingual immigrant writers in the US, showing first, how they have moved their literacy practices among multiple languages andlocations in the world, and second, how these practices have been destabilized and redefined by the social contexts they have met along the way. Aiming to unsettle the assumed durability of literacy practices on the move, the essay argues that multilingual literacy practices do indeed travel with writers across locations and languages, but to uncertain effect. These multilingual practices appear to be too contingent on social dynamics to be easily accessed and deployed. Thus, even when writers migrate with fully developed multilingual repertoires—including fluency in English—they do not always experience the social mobility often promised.

Negotiating Translingual Literacy: An Enactment
A. Suresh Canagarajah
Abstract: This article argues that an understanding of writing as translingual requires a shift to a different orientation to literacy—i.e., from autonomous and situated to negotiated. Such an orientation treats the text as co-constructed in time and space—with parity for readers and writers in shaping the meaning and form—and thus performed rather than preconstructed, making the multimodal and multisensory dimensions of the text fully functional. Going beyond the native/nonnative and monolingual/multilingual speaker binaries, this study demonstrates that both student groups can orient themselves to such literate practices in the context of suitable pedagogical affordances. Drawing from teacher research informed by an ethnographic perspective, the study identifies four types of negotiation strategies adopted by writers to code-mesh and readers to interpret texts: envoicing, recontextualization, interaction, and entextualization. Envoicing strategies set the conditions for negotiation, as it is a consideration of voice that motivates writers to decide the extent and nature of code-meshing; recontextualization strategies prepare the ground for negotiation; interactional strategies are adopted to co-construct meaning; and entextualization strategies reveal the temporal and spatial shaping of the text to facilitate and respond to these negotiations. The analysis points to the value of a dialogical pedagogy that can further develop the negotiation strategies students already bring to the classroom.

Appendix to “Negotiating Translingual Literacy: An Enactment” by A. Suresh Canagarajah

Literacy Worlds of Children of Migrant Farmworker Communities Participating in a Migrant Head Start Program
Victoria Purcell-Gates
Abstract: Within this ethnographic case study, I examine the ways that a Migrant Head Start program failed to build on the funds of language and literacy knowledge of a group of socioculturally and linguistically marginalized preschool children. Using a literacy-as-social-practice lens, I explore the children’s early literacy knowledge by focusing on the ways that reading and writing mediate the lives of the migrant farmworker community—their parents’ and community members’ lives. Observational and interview data analysis revealed literacy practices in the migrant camps that reflected their lives of bureaucratic regulation, family and community relationships, and spirituality in the migrant camps. Participant observation in the Migrant Head Start program revealed a school-based focus on only surface features of early literacy, delivered in an unfamiliar language and reflecting culturally specific beliefs and values about literacy practice that did not match those of most of the children. Analysis also revealed the ways that literacy practice among the migrant farmworkers moved and changed as the individual life experiences of the families changed, particularly in relation to increased geographic permanence over time.

“Nobody Knows the . . . Amount of a Person”: Elementary Students Critiquing Dehumanization through Organic Critical Literacies
Gerald Campano, María Paula Ghiso, and Lenny Sánchez
Abstract: This article draws on a four-year practitioner research study of a university partnership with an all-boys public elementary school to analyze students’ socially situated literacy practices that occurred on the margins of a curriculum driven by high-stakes testing. We bring together critical literacy, realist theory, and Gramsci’s conception of the organic intellectual to provide a layered framework for understanding how students at our research site mobilized their cultural identities for critical ends, what we define as “organic critical literacies.” Through illustrative examples of third- and fourth-grade African American boys’ interactions with fiction and nonfiction texts,we examine how students critiqued common ideologies that devalued them, their school, and their city, and enacted more humanizing visions. The elementary students whose work we feature were realizing their capacities as emerging organic intellectuals, translating their singular critical insights and observations into a broader dialogue that had more universal resonance. We conclude by discussing the educational, epistemological, and ethical implications of our study.

Forum: Toward a Restorative English Education
Maisha T. Winn
Abstract: In this essay I argue for a Restorative English Education—that is, a pedagogy of possibilities that employs literature and writing to seek justice and restore (and, in some cases, create) peace that reaches beyond the classroom walls. A Restorative English Education requires English language arts teachers to resist zero-tolerance policies that sort, label, and eventually isolate particular youth, embracing a discourse of restoration in which all young people have an opportunity to experience “radical healing” through engaging in deliberate literate acts that illuminate pathways of resilience.

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