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Literacy and Power (Language, Culture, and Teaching Series)

Literacy and Power (Language, Culture, and Teaching Series)
Author: Hilary Janks
ISBN 13: 9780415999632
ISBN 10: 415999634
Edition: 1
Publisher: Routledge
Publication Date: 2009-10-04
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
List Price: $51.95

In this book — a landmark text that is both engaging and accessible — Hilary Janks addresses the following questions and many more:

  • Is literacy a skill or a social practice?

  • In what ways is literacy embodied?

  • Do texts have designs on us and what can we do about it?

  • How does language construct reality?

  • What is 'linguistic capital' and who has it?

  • Who gets access to new literacies and who is excluded?

  • How is literacy implicated in relations of power and questions of identity in our daily lives?

Janks shows how competing orientations to critical literacy education — domination (power), access, diversity, design — foreground one over the other. Her central argument is that these different orientations are crucially interdependent and need to work together to create possibilities for redesign and social action that serve a social justice agenda. Recognizing ongoing change in socio-historical conditions, in the communication landscape, and in the applications of critical literacy, she examines the theory underpinning each orientation, and develops new theory in the argument for interdependence and integration. Most important, Literacy and Power sits at the interface between theory and practice, constantly moving from one to the other. It is rich with examples of how to use these orientations in real teaching contexts, and how to use them to counterbalance one another.

In the groundbreaking final chapter, Janks shows ways of working 'beyond reason'. Considering how the rationalist underpinning of critical literacy tends to exclude the non-rational — pleasure and play, desire and the unconscious — she makes the case that these need to be taken seriously given their power to cut across the work of critical literacy educators working from any orientation.