Trajectories of Persons and Practices: Sociohistoric Perspectives of Disciplinary Development. The Case Study of Charles Scott, Jr

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by Paul Prior

I have long been a fan of Kevin Roozen’s case studies of literate and semiotic practice. Thus, I am very pleased to be writing the introduction for Expanding Literate Landscapes: Persons, Practices, and Sociohistoric Perspectives of Disciplinary Development. Here Kevin teams up with Joe Erickson to not only theoretically frame a compelling series of case studies, but also to craft a digital text that brings those stories to life in fascinating ways. Expanding Literate Landscapes lets us hear the voices of the five participant-co-researchers in these cases, to see the ways they work with texts, the ways their practices cross imagined boundaries.

The theory, case studies, and digital media of this book offer an incredibly rich tapestry of literate and disciplinary development. In Expanding Literate Landscapes, we meet Charles, whose extracurricular journalism experiences and everyday literacies interact in complex ways with his academic classes; Kate, whose long history of cross-fertilizations between fan fiction/art and English Studies play out over the course of her graduate studies; Lindsey, whose graphic design experiences with cutting and re-arranging get repurposed in analyses of literature and in creative writing; Terri, whose work as a nurse is entangled with a quite diverse range of texts and videos; and Alexandra, whose use of tables in her engineering courses turns out to be only one face of her use of tables in just about every sphere of activity (play, fan fiction texts and media, life management). Roozen and Erickson describe their goals for these cases studies in the following terms:

In assembling and presenting our analyses in this narrative form, our goal is to offer a coherent account of disciplinary writing, learning, and enculturation without flattening out the richness, complexity, and dynamics of how literate actors and artifacts are continually taken up, transformed, recombined, and re-coordinated across space, time, and representational media.

In my read, they are quite successful in achieving this goal.

Expanding Literate Landscapes makes serious and important contributions to some of the most central issues in the fields of writing/literacy/discourse studies. I would like to highlight two key arguments Roozen and Erickson make and to reflect a bit on the implications of those arguments.

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