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Commission on Arts and Literacies - Previous Revision

Commission Co-Chairs:

Peggy Rice, Ball State University, Muncie, IN
Pauline Schmidt, D'Youville College, Buffalo, NY

Commission Liaison:

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.

Current Projects:
  • Disseminate members’ research and practice through NCTE conference presentations, themed journal and book publications, digital media, and web-based sources.
  • Publication of a handbook of members’ research and practice
  • Collaboration between Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia public schools,  and COAL for presentation at NCTE 2009
  • Other projects as proposed by members
Completed Projects:
  • Themed issue of English Education:
    Albers, P. & Harste, J. (Eds), (2007). English Education. The arts, new literacies, and multimodality, 40(1). Michael Moore, senior editor, English Education.
  • Annual conference presentation sessions at NCTE
COAL Member Publications Related to the Arts and Literacies
Commission Reports and Meeting Minutes

2009 Annual Report

2008 Annual Report 
2008 Meeting Minutes

2007 Annual Report 
2007 Meeting Minutes


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