NewLiteraciesSampler_2007.pdf - Colin Lankshear Michele...

This preview shows page 1 out of 263 pages.

Unformatted text preview: Colin Lankshear, Michele Knobel, Chris Bigum, and Michael Peters General Editors Vol. 29 PETER LANG New York y Washington, D.C./Baltimore y Bern Frankfurt am Main y Berlin y Brussels y Vienna y Oxford Edited by Michele Knobel and Colin Lankshear PETER LANG New York y Washington, D.C./Baltimore y Bern Frankfurt am Main y Berlin y Brussels y Vienna y Oxford Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Knobel, Michele. A new literacies sampler / edited by Michele Knobel, Colin Lankshear. p. cm. — (New literacies and digital epistemologies; vol. 29) Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Media literacy. 2. Mass media in education. I. Title. P96.M4 N59 302.23—dc22 2006037193 ISBN 978-0-8204-9523-1 ISSN 1523-9543 Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Bibliothek. Die Deutsche Bibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at . Cover design by Joni Holst The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council of Library Resources. © 2007 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York 29 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY 10006 All rights reserved. Reprint or reproduction, even partially, in all forms such as microfilm, xerography, microfiche, microcard, and offset strictly prohibited. Printed in the United States of America Knobel_FM.qxd 30/11/2006 21:40 Page v To young (and not so young) digital insiders who inspire people like us Knobel_FM.qxd 30/11/2006 21:40 Page vi Knobel_FM.qxd 30/11/2006 21:40 Page vii Table of Contents Acknowledgements ix Chapter 1: Sampling “the New” in New Literacies 1 Colin Lankshear & Michele Knobel Chapter 2: “You Won’t Be Needing Your Laptops Today”: Wired Bodies in the Wireless Classroom 25 Kevin M. Leander Chapter 3: Popular Websites in Adolescents’ Out-of-School Lives: Critical Lessons on Literacy 49 Jennifer C. Stone Chapter 4: Agency and Authority in Role-Playing “Texts” 67 Jessica Hammer Chapter 5: Pleasure, Learning, Video Games, and Life: The Projective Stance 95 James Paul Gee Chapter 6: Digital Design: English Language Learners and Reader Reviews in Online Fiction 115 Rebecca W. Black Chapter 7: Blurring and Breaking through the Boundaries of Narrative, Literacy, and Identity in Adolescent Fan Fiction 137 Angela Thomas Chapter 8: Looking from the Inside Out: Academic Blogging as New Literacy 167 Julia Davies & Guy Merchant Knobel_FM.qxd VIII | 30/11/2006 21:40 Page viii A NEW LITERACIES SAMPLER Chapter 9: Online Memes, Affinities, and Cultural Production Michele Knobel & Colin Lankshear Chapter 10: New Literacies Cynthia Lewis 199 229 Contributors 239 Subject Index 243 Author Index 249 Knobel_FM.qxd 30/11/2006 21:40 Page ix Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank the following for generously granting permission for their original work to be used in this book: the faculty and students at “Ridgeview Academy” (Chapter 2); Liz, Mike, Fran, Bill, Robert, Charles, Anne, Karl and Cassie for their insights into live action role-play games (Chapter 4); Nanako Tanako and her fanfic reviewers (Chapter 6); Tiana and Jandalf for their interview data, images and fanfic writing (Chapter 7); Jandalf for her sketch of Jemaei (Figure 7.3); and Mohawk/Limbert for permission to use the doll tea image appearing in Chapter 8 (Figure 8.3). We would also like to thank the following for their permission to use their images on the cover of this book: Julia Davies and Guy Merchant for the screen shot from Blogtrax (blogtrax.blogsome.com); Zack Johnson for the image of Arwennie from the massively multiplayer online role playing game, Kingdom of Loathing (kingdomofloathing.com, © Asymmetric Publications, LLC); Jandalf for her sketch of Jemaei; Jay Maynard for the image of his Tron cosplay (Tronguy.com); and Rob Lewis for a webpage screenshot from Stickdeath (stickdeath.com). The Editors thank the authors of the chapters for being part of this project. We thank them for being friends and colleagues who sustain, Knobel_FM.qxd X | 30/11/2006 21:40 Page x A NEW LITERACIES SAMPLER inspire, and encourage us and so many others in our collective endeavor to better understand “new literacies”. We hope each and every one of them walks long and happily in this world—and all the other worlds they variously inhabit. We also thank everyone at Peter Lang Publishing for being so easy to work with on this project, and on the New Literacies series as a whole. In particular, we’d like to thank Sophie Appel and Chris Myers for their input, help and good humor. knobel_01.qxd 30/11/2006 21:40 Page 1 CHAPTER ONE Sampling “the New” in New Literacies C OLIN L ANKSHEAR AND M ICHELE K NOBEL Sampling This book “samples” work in the broad area of new literacies research on two levels. First, it samples some typical examples of new literacies. These are video gaming, fan fiction writing, weblogging, using websites to participate in affinity practices, and social practices involving mobile computing. The question of what it is about these practices that makes us think of them as “new” and as “literacies” will occupy much of this introductory chapter. Second, it samples from among the wide range of approaches potentially available for researching and studying new literacies. The studies assembled in this collection are all examples of what is referred to as research undertaken from a sociocultural perspective on literacy. New literacies can be studied from a range of research and theoretical orientations (cf. Leu et al. forthcoming). For reasons that will become apparent from our account of “new literacies,” however, a sociocultural perspective is especially appropriate and valuable for researching new literacies. A Sociocultural Approach to Literacies Understanding literacies from a sociocultural perspective means that reading and writing can only be understood in the contexts of social, cultural, political, economic, historical practices to which they are integral, of which they are a part. This view lies at the heart of what Gee (1996) calls the “new” literacy studies, or socioliteracy knobel_01.qxd 2 | 30/11/2006 21:40 Page 2 A NEW LITERACIES SAMPLER studies (see also Hull and Schultz 2001, Knobel 1999, Lankshear 1997, Street 1984, 1995). The relationship between human practice and the production, distribution, exchange, refinement, negotiation and contestation of meanings is a key idea here. Human practices are meaningful ways of doing things or getting things done (Scribner and Cole 1981; also Franklin 1990, Hull and Schultz 2001). There is no practice without meaning, just as there is no meaning outside of practice. Within contexts of human practice, language (words, literacy, texts) gives meaning to contexts and, dialectically, contexts give meaning to language. Hence, there is no reading or writing in any meaningful sense of each term outside social practices. If we see literacy as “simply reading and writing”—whether in the sense of encoding and decoding print, as a tool, a set of skills, or a technology, or as some kind of psychological process—we cannot make sense of our literacy experience. Reading (or writing) is always reading something in particular with understanding. Different kinds of text require “somewhat different backgrounds and somewhat different skills” if they are to be read (i.e., read meaningfully). Moreover, particular texts can be read in different ways, contingent upon different people’s experiences of practices in which these texts occur. A Christian Fundamentalist, for example, will read texts from the Bible in radically different ways from, say, a liberation theology priest. They will make different meanings from specific texts, interact with these texts differently, put them to different “uses” (e.g., to justify or affirm different courses of action to be taken in the world), and so on. Learning to read and write particular kinds of texts in particular ways presupposes immersion in social practices where participants “not only read texts of this type in this way but also talk about such texts in certain ways, hold certain attitudes and values about them, and socially interact over them in certain ways” (Gee, Hull and Lankshear 1996, 3). Different histories of “literate immersion” yield different forms of reading and writing as practice. The texts we read and write—any and all texts we read and write; even the most arid (and otherwise meaningless) drill and skill, remedial session “readings”—are integral elements of “lived, talked, enacted, value-andbelief-laden practices” engaged in under specific conditions, at specific times and in specific places (ibid.). Consequently, it is impossible to abstract or decontextualize “literacy bits” from their larger embedded practices and for them still to mean what they do in fact mean experientially. Furthermore, and obviously, there is no one singular phenomenon that is literacy. Rather, there are as many literacies as there are “social practices and conceptions of reading and writing” (Street 1984, 1). Sociocultural Definitions of “Literacies” Sociocultural definitions of literacy, then, have to make sense of reading, writing and meaning-making as integral elements of social practices. One such definition is knobel_01.qxd 30/11/2006 21:40 Page 3 SAMPLING “ THE NEW ” IN NEW LITERACIES | 3 provided by Gee (1996), who defines literacy in relation to Discourses. Discourses are socially recognized ways of using language (reading, writing, speaking, listening), gestures and other semiotics (images, sounds, graphics, signs, codes), as well as ways of thinking, believing, feeling, valuing, acting/doing and interacting in relation to people and things, such that we can be identified and recognized as being a member of a socially meaningful group, or as playing a socially meaningful role (cf., Gee 1991, 1996, 1998). To be in, or part of, a Discourse means that others can recognise us as being a “this” or a “that” (a pupil, mother, priest, footballer, mechanic), or a particular “version” of a this or a that (a reluctant pupil, a doting mother, a radical priest, an untrained but expert mechanic) by virtue of how we are using language, believing, feeling, acting, dressing, doing, and so on. Language is a dimension of Discourse, but only one dimension, and Gee uses discourse (with a small “d”) to mark this relationship. As historical “productions,” Discourses change over time, but at any given point are sufficiently “defined” for us to tell when people are in them. Gee distinguishes our primary Discourse from our various secondary Discourses. Our primary Discourse is how we learn to do and be (including speaking and expressing) within our family (or face to face intimate) group during our early life. It (we each have only one primary Discourse, although there are many different primary Discourses) comprises our first notions of who “people like us” are, and what “people like us” do, think, value, and so on. Our secondary Discourses (and we each have many of these, although they differ from person to person) are those we are recruited to through participation in outside groups and institutions, such as schools, clubs, workplaces, churches, political organizations, and so on. These all draw upon and extend our resources from our primary Discourse, and may be “nearer to” or “further away from” our primary Discourse. The further away a secondary Discourse is from our primary Discourse and our other secondary Discourses—as in the case of children from marginal social groups who struggle to get a handle on the culture of school classrooms—the more we have to “stretch” our discursive resources to “perform” within that Discourse. Often in such cases we simply are unable to operate the Discourse at the level of fluent performance. Gee holds that any socially useful definition of literacy must build on the notion of Discourse and the distinction between primary and secondary Discourses. In part this is because the context of all language use is some specific social practice or other, which is always part of some Discourse or other. Gee defines literacy “as mastery (or, fluent performance) of a secondary Discourse” (Gee 1996). Hence, to be literate means being able to handle all aspects of competent performance of the Discourse, including the literacy bits: that is, to be able to handle the various human and non-human elements of “coordinations” (Gee 1997, Latour 1987, Knorr Cetina 1992) effected by Discourses. To play a role, be a particular identity, etc., is a matter of both “getting coordinated” as an element in a Discourse, and of knobel_01.qxd 4 | 30/11/2006 21:40 Page 4 A NEW LITERACIES SAMPLER coordinating other elements. Language/literacy is a crucial element of discursive “coordinating,” but it is only one aspect, and the other elements need to be “in sync” for fluent performance—literacy—to be realised. In similar vein we have recently defined literacies as “socially recognized ways of generating, communicating and negotiating meaningful content through the medium of encoded texts within contexts of participation in Discourses (or, as members of Discourses)” (Lankshear and Knobel 2006, 64). Identifying literacies as social practices is necessarily to see them as involving socially recognized ways of doing things. Scribner and Cole (1981, 236) claim that “social practice” always refers “to socially developed and patterned ways of using technology and knowledge to accomplish tasks.” They describe literacy in terms of “socially organized practices [that] make use of a symbol system and a technology for producing and disseminating it” (1981, 236). Literacy, then, is not a matter of knowing how to read and write a particular kind of script. Rather, it is a matter of “applying this knowledge for specific purposes in specific contexts of use” (ibid.). This means that literacy is really like a family of practices—literacies—that includes such “socially evolved and patterned activities” as letter writing, keeping records and inventories, keeping a diary, writing memos, posting announcements, and so on (ibid.). More recently Brian Street (2001, 11) has defined literacy practices as “particular ways of thinking about and doing reading and writing in cultural contexts.” Literacies call us to generate and communicate meanings and to invite others to make meaning from our texts in turn. This, however, can only be done by having something to make meaning from—namely, a kind of content that is carried as “potential” by the text and that is actualized through interaction with the text by its recipients. If there is no text there is no literacy, and every text, by definition, bears content. Gunther Kress (2003, 37–38) makes this point in relation to alphabetic writing. He talks of readers doing “semiotic work” when they read a written text. This is “the work of filling the elements of writing with content” (ibid.); that is, the work of making meaning from the writing in the text. Kress argues that meaning involves two kinds of work. One is articulation, which is performed in the production of “the outwardly made sign” (e.g., writing). The other is interpretation, which involves producing “the inwardly made sign” in reading (see also Gee 2004, Ch. 6). Our idea of “meaningful content” that is generated and negotiated within literacy practices is, however, wider and looser than many literacy scholars might accept. We think Gee’s (1997) Discourse approach to literacies draws attention to the complexity and richness of the relationship between literacies and “ways of being together in the world” (Gee 1997, xv). So, for example, when we look at somebody’s weblog we might well find that much of the meaning to be made from the content has to do with who we think the blog writer is: what they are like, how they want to think of themselves, and how they want us to think of them. Likewise, a particular knobel_01.qxd 30/11/2006 21:40 Page 5 SAMPLING “ THE NEW ” IN NEW LITERACIES | 5 text that someone produces might well be best understood as an expression of wanting to feel “connected” or “related” right now. The meaning carried by the content might be much more relational than literal. It might be more about expressing solidarity or affinity with particular people. Our idea of “meaningful content” is intended to be sufficiently elastic to accommodate these possibilities. This is an important point when it comes to understanding the internet, online practices and online “content.” Almost anything available online becomes a resource for diverse kinds of meaning making. In many cases the meanings that are made will not be intelligible to people at large or, in some cases, to many people at all. Some might be shared only by “insiders” of quite small interest groups or cliques. Consider, for example, the way that eBay has been used to spoof a range of social conventions and to generate diverse kinds of quirky and “nutty” activity. A man auctioned his soul in 2006 and received a cash payment that came with the condition that he would spend 50 hours in church. In another case an individual auctioned a ten-yearold toasted cheese sandwich the owner said had an imprint of the Virgin Mary on it, and that had not gone mouldy or disintegrated since it was made in 1994. Moreover, she said it had brought her luck at a casino. An internet casino purchased the sandwich for $28,000 and planned to take it on tour to raise money for charity. Other sellers responded with Virgin Mary toasted sandwich makers, T-shirts, etc. (see: news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4034787.stm). On 5 May 2006, Yahoo! sports pages reported a Kansas City Royals baseball fan of 25 years finally giving up on the club and auctioning his loyalty. The meaning of such actions have little to do with established practices of auctioning, and the interpretation of texts describing the items have little or nothing to do with the literal words per se. People may be prepared to spend money just to be in solidarity with the spoof: to say “I get it,” and thereby signal their insiderness with the practice, express solidarity with the seller, or, even, to try and save a soul. By defining literacies in relation to “encoded texts” we mean texts that have been rendered in a form that allows them to be retrieved, worked with, and made available independently of the physical presence of another person. “Encoded texts” are texts that have been “frozen” or “captured” in ways that free them from their immediate context of production so that they are “transportable.” Encoded texts give (semi) permanence, transcendence, and transportability to language that is not available in the immediacy of speech, hand signs, and the like.They can “travel” without requiring particular people to transport them. They can be replicated independently of needing other human beings to host the replication. The particular kinds of codes employed in literacy practices are varied and contingent. Literacies can involve any kind of codification system that “captures” language in the sense we have described. Literacy includes “letteracy” (i.e., within the English language, recognition and manipulation of alphabetic symbols), but in our view goes far beyond this. Someone who “freezes” knobel_01.qxd 6 | 30/11/2006 21:40 Page 6 A NEW LITERACIES SAMPLER language as a digitally encoded passage of speech and uploads it to the internet as a podcast is engaging in literacy. Finally, the point that we always engage in literacy practices as members of some Discourse or other takes us back to Gee’s account of literacies outlined above. Humans “do life” as individuals and as members of social and cultural groups— always as what Gee calls “situated selves”—in and through Discourses. A person rushing an email message to head office as she hands her boarding pass to the airline attendant at the entrance to the aircraft...
View Full Document

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture