III. Literacy

Literacy wordcloud
Traditional writing courses typically allow students to write about any topic that interests them—and some even encourage them to write about topics from their own area of study—but a focused examination into literacy narratives exposes students to topics in our field, and it does so during the undergraduate years, when students are in the process of making career decisions. —Kara Poe Alexander


[Intro music: “Memory” by Creo.]

In keeping with considering the DALN on its own terms, section three of The Archive as Classroom focuses on Literacy.

Scholarship by Deborah Brandt, John Duffy, Harvey J. Graff, Beverly Moss, and Eli Goldblatt has helped expand attitudes about literacy and provide frameworks, methodologies, terms, and lessons for reconsidering such expansion. Literacy sponsorship, literacy myths and lessons, rhetorics of literacy, and the role of memoir and autobiography continue to ground the DALN’s purpose and, in no small way, guide its development. Indeed, as studies of the DALN confirm, the appeal of the DALN as a source for teaching and research is very much linked with prevailing attitudes about the growing importance, centrality, and awareness of literacy in people’s everyday lives.

When we began assembling this collection, we hoped contributors to the Literacy section would strike a balance between investigating literacy from everyday and academic perspectives. We also hoped these studies would shed some light on why literacy serves as such a powerful motivation for people to share such personal stories with the archive in the first place.

For this section, we asked authors take up some tough questions: How do you use the DALN to engage students in literacy studies? What approaches to the collection seem to foster students’ critical awareness about literacy? Contributors interpreted these research questions in varied ways, leading to observations that emphasize— above all else—the many roads teachers and students take to literacy.

Here, you’ll read about how to employ the DALN to investigate religious literacies in the composition classroom. You’ll also find a detailed proposal and annotated undergraduate research assignment sequence. Another contribution in this section takes up scientific literacy, investigating how the DALN is used to join ongoing conversations about the importance of STEM fields in higher education. Our final contribution positions the DALN squarely at the intersections of autobiographical composing and mentoring. Similar to other studies in this section, this essay offers strategies for creating a more inclusive research atmosphere for undergraduate students.

Links and abstracts for these fine studies appear below. We hope you find these chapters on the DALN as rich and as useful as we do.

[Outro music]


Chapter 1 Erin Kathleen Bahl, “Religion, Remediated: Engaging Religious Literacies with the DALN”
In this chapter, I theorize an assignment sequence that uses the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN) to engage religious dimensions of literacy in the composition classroom, via a framework based on the New London Group’s two-part approach to multiliteracies. I then perform this sequence through case studies featuring the four narratives introduced above, as possible examples for students and instructors interested in implementing this sequence. I close with suggestions for how a vernacular approach to religion might intersect fruitfully with approaches to literacy that take into account both multiple cultural contexts and multiple media forms. Ultimately, my goal is to offer a multiliteracies-based framework that opens up space for addressing religious dimensions of literacy in composition classroom settings in order to open up space for a richly diverse array of voices, which have much to offer us as scholars and teachers of literate communication.
Hashtags: #multiliteracies, #reflection, #researchmethods, #sponsorship
Chapter 2 Kara Poe Alexander, “Undergraduate Research in Writing Studies: Using the DALN to Stimulate Inquiry and Teach Research Methods”
This chapter offers a model for an undergraduate research (UGR) assignment sequence that utilizes the DALN to stimulate intellectual inquiry, archival literacy, and interest in scholarly pursuits. I highlight an assignment sequence derived from an upper-level writing course I teach that introduces students to primary research methods and that enables them to engage in scholarly academic research where they can make scholarly contributions—from project design and data collection to coding, analyzing, and writing up findings. In this project, students draft an audio literacy narrative, present with a partner their rhetorical analysis of an artifact, write an exploratory-reflective essay, compose an academic research essay that utilizes literacy narratives in the DALN, draft a conference proposal, and give a poster presentation. By highlighting the DALN’s role in creating undergraduate writing scholars, I aim to show how faculty can use the DALN to promote UGR and stimulate intellectual inquiry while simultaneously adding value to student learning, undergraduate programs, and composition at large. By highlighting the DALN’s role in creating undergraduate writing scholars, I aim to show how faculty can use primary sources to stimulate intellectual inquiry and promote UGR. I also discuss strengths and limitations of this approach.
Hashtags: #multiliteracies, #researchmethods, #rhetoricalanalysis
Chapter 3Stacey Stanfield Anderson, “Accessing the DALN for STEM Students at an Hispanic Serving Institution”
This chapter focuses on efforts to draw upon the DALN to increase scientific literacy among students at an Hispanic Serving Institution. The study centers on a learning module developed to enhance the retention and success of first generation college freshmen majoring in STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) at an HSI. Incorporating model narratives from the DALN as well as student samples from courses that completed the learning module, the chapter emphasizes civic scientific literacy as a crucial skill for students in becoming engaged citizens and critical thinkers and advocates for greater attention to scientific literacy in first year composition courses. The study reveals the potential of the DALN and composition studies to examine the role of narrative in strengthening individual and collective action on issues of scientific urgency.
Hashtags: #multiliteracies, #sponsorship, #reflection
Chapter 4Alice Myatt & Guy Krueger, “The DALN as Mentor Text: Empowering Students as Literacy Agents”
The authors encourage writing teachers to view the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN) as a collection of mentor texts and a repository of rich resources, expanding students’ understanding of what a literacy narrative does or what literacies are while empowering students to communicate authentically about their own literacy journeys. In this way, the narratives in the DALN provide teachers with mentor texts—models—they can use to help students understand how different types of literacy can inform their own narratives. Instead of privileging literacies of power (particularly white, and almost certainly middle- to upper-class), the DALN allows students to see literacy as “more ‘participatory,’ ‘collaborative,’ and ‘distributed’ in nature than conventional literacies” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2007). At the same time that the DALN provides mentor texts for students, teachers who become familiar with and use the DALN archives, especially those new to or inexperienced with teaching literacy narratives, are encouraged to recognize and move past tendencies toward taking a deficit approach (Rose, 1985; Izarry, 2009) and instead adopt a stance similar to that advocated by Mike Rose (1985), who encouraged writing teachers to embrace “the full play of language activity” by providing access to “the academic community rather than sequestering students from it” (p. 358).
Hashtags: #facultydevelopment, #inclusion, #multiliteracies, #rhetoricalanalysis, #sponsorship