Literacy and DiscourseENGL 289: Intermediate CompositionUniversity of CincinnatiC. LaVecchia (with quotes from Maritza Ramos)
What is literacy?―Literacy is a many-meaninged thing.‖ – Sylvia Scribner
Somedefinitions―The ability to ‗read‘ a specificsubject or medium;competence or knowledge ina certain area‖ – OxfordEnglish DictionaryLiteracy is generally fluencyin a practice (whetherreading, writing, dancing, medicine…).You can also think of it as―ways of being in the world‖(Gee).
Literacy is a SocioculturalPractice―It should not be surprising to see differences in literacybetween members of different ethnic groups, age groups,sexes, socioeconomic classes, etc.‖ – John F. SzwedAffected by our backgrounds, cultures, and communities!
MultiliteraciesMany scholars and Because we participateresearchers in writing in many differentstudies, education, discourse communitieslinguistics, and related and use many differentfields feel that literacy discourses, we eachis about more than just have many differentthe ability to read and literacies (plural)write. ―Texts‖: in writingJames Gee has argued studies, a text canliteracy is also about simply refer to anthe meaning behind artifact, not only awhat we say, not just document wth printedthe language itself words.
What is discourse?Systems of language used by communities, cultural groups(sometimes called dialects), etc.
discourse―Language in action‖— either an instance of language (―Hisdiscourse was terse and harsh‖) or a collection of instancesthat demonstrate a quality (―Legal discourse is __‖). – Downsand WardleAmy Tan describes her many ―Englishes.‖
Gee andDiscourse―Discourses are ways of beingin the world; they are forms oflife which integrate words, acts,values, beliefs, attitudes, andsocial identities as well asgestures, glances, bodypositions, and clothes.‖―A Discourse is a sort of‗identity kit‘ which comescomplete with the appropriatecostume and instructions onhow to act, talk, and oftenwrite, so as to take on aparticular role that others willrecognize‖ (484).
ConclusionThe literacies and discourses in oureveryday lives reveal our values,backgrounds, and identities!