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Research in the Teaching of English, Vol. 52, No. 2, November 2017

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Table of Contents

  • Editors’ Introduction: Toward Rich Accounts of Writing Development [FREE ACCESS]

    Mandie B. Dunn, Mary M. Juzwik, Ellen Cushman, and Heather Falconer

  • “She’s Definitely the Artist One”: How Learner Identities Mediate Multimodal Composing

    James S. Chisholm and Andrea R. Olinger

    Abstract: Multimodal composing can activate literacy practices and identities not typically privileged in verbocentric English classrooms, and students’ identities as particular kinds of learners (e.g.,“visual artist”) may propel—or limit—their engagement in classroom work, including in multimodal composing. Although researchers have studied the ways multimodal projects can evidence literacy learning and have argued that identity is negotiated, improvisational, and hybrid, they have offered few sustained analyses of the processes by which identities evolve during and across multimodal composing tasks. By examining how students position themselves and one another as particular kinds of learners over time, researchers can better understand the ways in which multimodal tasks help students explore new skills and roles or reify old ones. Drawing on an approach to discourse analysis from the linguistic anthropology of education, we trace the pathways of three 12th graders’ learner identities across two events as they worked in a group to compose visual responses to literary texts for their English class. We examine how one student’s robust identity as an artist emerged in tandem with the devaluing of other participants’ artist identities. Seven weeks later, these positionings led her to act as the painting’s primary author and other students to act in increasingly perfunctory ways. We call for teachers and researchers to consider how students’ identities—interacting with factors such as the teacher’s expectations for group work and the affordances of particular media and materials for collaboration—drive students’ participation in and ownership of multimodal compositions.

  • Escribiendo Juntos: Toward a Collaborative Model of Multiliterate Family Literacy in English Only and Anti-immigrant Contexts [FREE ACCESS]

    Jessica Singer Early

    Abstract: This article describes an after-school family literacy program as a model of multiliterate collaboration under and against English Only and anti-immigrant conditions. The model reveals how state politics surrounding language, ethnicity, and citizenship may interact with the activity systems of family literacy programs to redefine what counts as sanctioned language and literacy learning within school spaces. This article details the findings of a qualitative study and includes the goals and curriculum of the program, as well as the recruiting mechanisms, participants, participant feedback, and participant experiences. Findings from the study reveal the role of parental investment in language and literacy learning, language co-construction, and honoring of all languages, cultures, and experiences. This family literacy model contributes to literacy studies by offering possibilities for future school-sponsored, multiliterate family literacy research collaborations to draw from and extend the language and literacy practices and funds of knowledge of ELL students, parents, teachers, and literacy scholars working within English Only and anti-immigrant contexts.

  • (Dis)Identifying as Writers, Scholars, and Researchers: Former Schoolteachers’ Professional Identity Work during Their Teacher-Education Doctoral Studies

    Ann M. Lawrence

    Abstract: Professional knowledge production through involvement in research/writing activities is a valued dimension of the work of university-based teacher educators. However, little attention has been given to how teacher-education doctoral students (predominantly former schoolteachers) become education-research writers as part of their professional development as university-based teacher educators. In this article, I examine 11 former elementary and secondary teachers’ professional identity work as writers, scholars, and researchers during their teacher-education doctoral studies. All 11 specialized in language, literacy, and/or literature education. I focus my analysis on their (dis)identifications with the terms writer, scholar, and researcher in stream-of-consciousness quick-writes that they produced at regular intervals throughout their semesters of participation in five extracurricular peer writing groups that I facilitated. To contextualize these writings, I also draw on observations that I made during five years of ethnographic fieldwork for my longitudinal study. Through my analysis, I demonstrate that the 10 women respondents tended to recount a similar genre of (dis)identification narrative, one in which they disavowed their own authority as writers, scholars, and/or researchers, excluding available evidence to the contrary. I argue that the women’s teacher-education doctoral program, which maintained researcher/teacher, faculty/teacher, and faculty/student hierarchies, may have resonated in particular with these former schoolteachers’ previous experiences of sociocultural marginalization as women, and may thus have contributed to the emergence of their (dis)identification-narrative genre. To enhance the professional development of teacher-education doctoral students and faculty alike, I offer suggestions for how faculty might facilitate doctoral students’ writing groups while positioning/figuring themselves as group members’ colleagues.

  • Forum: Setting a Research Agenda for Lifespan Writing Development: The Long View from Where?

    Paul Prior

    Abstract: I am writing in response to the recent Forum essay “Taking the Long View on Writing Development,” authored by Bazerman, Applebee, Berninger, Brandt, Graham, Matsuda, Murphy, Rowe, and Schleppegrell (2017; and hereafter “The Long View”). I argue that “The Long View” was driven by the aim of identifying consensus rather than working through difference, that the principles represent commonplaces rather than a principled synthesis of research, that questions of epistemology and theory central to research agendas are essentially ignored, and that views of writing as semiotically exceptional and writing development as centered in school represent serious flaws in setting the agenda. The semiotic exceptionalism of “The Long View” represents a serious category mistake (Ryle, 1949). Taking “writing” as the unit of analysis occludes the diverse semiotic activity that necessarily shapes all textual artifacts and acts of inscription. Viewing writing as sharply distinct from orality risks reigniting Great Divide theories that had so many problematic effects on research, pedagogy, and people. Seeing school as the primary context for writing development ignores the rich roles of life outside school. In short, “The Long View” takes too narrow and problematic a view on issues of epistemology, theory, and literate lives to serve as the foundation for the critical research enterprise it aspires to conjure in our collective future. Instead, I suggest that research on the lifespan development of writing needs to begin with embodied, mediated, dialogic semiotic practice as its unit of analysis and to trace what people do, learn, and become across all the deeply entangled domains of their lives.

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