Many see literacy as a purely
cognitive activity where one either knows how to read or not, and any
challenges one has to becoming literate are a result of intellectual issues or
laziness. Further, those thinking of literacy in this way emphasize the
literacy of school over the literacy that takes place in the home, or at work,
or during leisure time. Finally, those thinking of literacy from a cognitive
perspective only consider an individual’s experiences with print when examining
literacy. In her introduction, Kristen Perry points out that there is another
way to look at literacy using a social perspective. She notes, along with other ideas, that sociocultural literacy perspectives are
“concerned with understanding the ways in which people use literacy in their
everyday lives,” and “incorporating students’ out-of-school ways of practicing
literacy” (51). The reasoning for looking at literacy practices in this way
Perry suggests is to understand the contexts in which literacy takes place and at
the same time to explore the link between literacy and cultural and power
While most researchers lump sociocultural literacy perspectives together, Perry separates the perspective into three distinct categories: literacy as a social practice, multiliteracies, and critical literacies.
Literacy as a social practice focuses on “what people do with reading, writing, and texts in real world contexts and why they do it”
argues the reason for looking at literacy practices in this way is to see how “practices
connect to, and are shaped by, values, attitudes, feelings, and social
relationships” (54). Literacy as a social practice looks at more than the text on
the page and attempts to place the text, any text, within the individual’s life
and experience. This literacy perspective is primarily concerned with print. The
next two perspectives build off of the cornerstone idea of literacy as a social
are best thoughts of as literacies that go beyond print. Those who study
multiliteracies “view literacy as involving multiple modes of visual, gestural,
spatial, and other forms of representation” (53 – 4). While they do not oppose
the studying of print, they think studying only print literacy cuts out the
numerous and varied texts that are available to today’s readers. Developments
such as the Internet, the World Wide Web, audio and video platforms, as well as
older media, such as television, movies, and music have greatly expanded
notions of what a text is or can be. The ability to effectively read these
texts is increasingly important to being literate in our age.
Critical literacies, Perry points out, addresses issues such as power and empowerment, agency, and identity (60). At the heart of critical literacies is the individual’s ability to reflect upon not only physical texts, but also, the world the texts are created within. Literate individuals take what they learn from texts and use it to change themselves and their world into a more equitable place. While power structures are important to all sociocultural perspectives, they dominate in critical literacies. Texts are seen as documents that contain racial, class, and gender struggles.
After you have reflected on Perry’s
discussion of sociocultural perspectives of literacy, create a literacy gallery
which illustrates and explains some of the literacy events that helped you become
the reader and writer you are now.
Perry’s three categories – literacy as a social practice, multiliteracies, and
critical literacies – should guide you in your choice of literacy events to include.
Further, Perry’s discussion must be used in your captions to explain/categorize the entries
in your gallery. Your document should have the following sections: an introduction,
a literacy gallery consisting of a minimum of six images and captions, a reflection, and a works
- Platform: Drafts must be submitted in CIDocs
in the Project 1 Drafts folder by the due date to receive credit.
- Your literacy gallery must have 6 to 9 entries with
captions accompanying each.
- Images: These should be original creations.
- Captions: These include a title, followed by
the date of your encounter with the literacy event, and a dense paragraph
explaining its meaning, including how it connects to Perry’s discussion.
In addition to Perry, you must have a minimum of five (5) additional sources
that you cite (quotes or paraphrases) within your project. You must offer a
Works Cited at the end of your
Deadlines and Important Dates
- Week 6: Draft of Literacy Gallery due
- Week 7: Draft of Introduction due
- Week 8: Draft of Reflection due; Midterm - Project 1 draft and log graded
- Weeks 9 - 14: Revise project
- Week 15: Portfolio submission
Due dates for drafts are 24 hours before class meetings.