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Commission on Arts and Literacies

Get Involved!

Attend the 2016 NCTE Annual Convention in Atlanta in November. Commissions will meet on Friday, November 18 from 2:30-3:45 p.m. and Saturday, November 19 from 2:45-4:00 p.m. (rooms yet to be assigned) and join our discussions!
Commission Co-Chairs:

Katherine Macro, Niagara University, NY
Michelle Zoss, Georgia State University, Atlanta

Commission Liaison:
Ken Lindblom, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY

With the goal of furthering the professional conversation on where and how the arts, multimodality, and new literacies intersect with traditional, print-based literacies, the Commission On Arts and Literacies (COAL) was established in 2004 under the Conference on English Education.  COAL members recognize that messages and meanings in the world today are communicated and expressed through a wide variety of art forms, modalities, and media and work to reconceptualize the meaning of literacy to include the full spectrum of meaning making systems.

Traditional literacy education has focused on the rule-governed syntactical forms of representation while the kinds of imaginative and productive idiosyncracies fostered by the arts have been generally left behind (Eisner, 2002). We live in an arts inspired world, a world that demands our immediate reading, interpretation, and production of visual signs, images, movement, verbal and nonverbal messages, and video (Kress, 2003). We live in a multimodal world, one in which we are both readers and creators of texts that are comprised of a range of modes including visual, spatial, audio, and digital (Jewitt & Kress, 2003). We are also in a highly technology-driven world, one in which information is accessed, produced, and shaped by the world-wide web. We are developing new literacies by using technology in sophisticated ways, creating multimodal and multigenre compositions (Kist, 2005).

Communicative, expressive, and interpretive acts often evolve from or combine visual, verbal, musical, digital, and physical modes of meaning making.  Today, more than ever before, the arts, multimodality, and the new literacies play important roles in the teaching and research of the English language arts. This attention is significant and timely as it reflects a growing shift in how literacy is being defined and what it means to be literate in the 21st century.

COAL aims to effect change in English language arts classrooms by advancing teaching, research, and theory in the three areas of the arts, multimodalities, and new literacies in ways that situate this knowledge as essential components of literacy learning.  We work to identify pedagogically-sound strategies that substantively integrate the arts, multimodalities, and new literacies with literacy education to promote powerful learning.


  1. To explore and promote theoretical and practical applications of expanded views of literacy;
  2. To engage in continual dialogue about what it means to be literate, and how the arts, multimodality and digital technologies offer insight into today’s perspectives on literacy; and
  3. To initiate projects that support member’s research and teaching (publication/presentation) in all areas of the arts.

Current Projects:

  • PubWe have established a facebook page for the group.
  • We submitted a proposal for a themed issue of Language Arts.

Completed Projects:

  • COAL proposed and will present a roundtable session at NCTE 2013
  • COAL members have been extraordinarily active in publishing and presenting their work in intern/national journals and inter/national conferences.
  • Two COAL members presented at the CEE Conference in June 2013:  Carol Hoyt and Wendy Williams presented Imagination, Creativity, Innovation and the Common Core: Examining the Role of the Arts in English Language Arts/ Literacy Instruction.

COAL Member Publications Related to the Arts and Literacies

Document and Site Resources

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NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts