Co-author and study participant book review for Generaciones’ Narratives: The Pursuit and Practice of Traditional and Electronic Literacies on the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands by John Scenters-Zapico
Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos || Faces seen, hearts unknown
In the preface of Generaciones, Victor Villanueva comments that this book is about breaking stereotypes. As a survey participant and co-author of Chapter 4, I embody a stereotype to be broken. Generaciones provides an opportunity to experience in multimodal delivery the literate lives of ‘others.’ It gives walking stereotypes a forum for their story. This, in and of itself, makes Generaciones useful — a productive, groundbreaking contribution to the literacy studies conversation. The exploration of borderland literacies builds on the growing collection of literacy ecologies in our field. But there is more to Generaciones than meets the eye.
Generaciones brings with it a basket-full of pedagogical implications. My experience as co-author has taught me that whether intentional or not, there is action in this research. The inclusion of students in the research, writing, and editing of this multimodal work provided a safe space for self-reflection and self-awareness about literacy. Those of us who participated in the survey process had a chance to name our literacy experiences. Naming, as we know, allows us to then “do something” with our experience. And those of us who participated in follow-up interviews and video interviews had a chance to take our literacy awareness one step further. In these interviews we were able to articulate literate experiences verbally and in-depth through extended conversation.
A few of us entered into a mentorship relationship when John included us as co-authors. In my experience, the layer of co-author granted me a different kind of epistemological status. Combining my literacy autobiography with those of my generational peers, witnessing the emergence of patterns and salient themes, and making connections heightened my levels of self-awareness and context. I had a hands-on opportunity to learn about research philosophy, methodology, and writing. I gained new literacies. I learned about risk-taking—something we talk about and propose in conferences and papers but rarely put into action. And I am a more confident researcher. As I transition from student to scholar, the lessons I have learned through mentorship are at the forefront of my teaching philosophy and practice. I can’t wait to pass the torch on to another generación.
The published Generaciones may seem like an end product — and in some ways it is. But John’s project continues as people access the book, and share the link with their families, their friends, and their networks with voices and stories “similar to theirs,” represented in text, in voice, and in image.