Phenomenology and Literacy Studies

Authored by: Rachel Heydon , Jennifer Rowsell

The Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415816243
eBook ISBN: 9781315717647
Adobe ISBN: 9781317510611


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Marg, an elder, and Mackenna, a child, worked side-by-side in a lounge planning and drawing a collage of lines from beloved songs. Old and young exchanged songs, sometimes singing and sometimes gesturing, a full-bodied sharing of histories, experiences and emotions through song. This moment occurred during a study on intergenerational multimodal practices and to us, crystallizes how affective and embodied literacy is and can be. Creating a collage. This negotiation of stories through music across generations can be didactic as in a child learns from an adult about language, sounds and visuals and it can also be more subjectively laden with histories, emotions, associations and feelings. The act of doing creative work with a child is never a neutral act; what flows through such literacy events are messages and questions and, often, strong affect. Though sometimes couched or hidden, literacy is an embodied experience (Leander and Boldt 2013) and the purpose of this chapter in a handbook on literacy studies is to foreground how perceptual, in the moment, and reliant on affect literacy is. In this chapter, we draw on literature in phenomenology to encourage researchers to loosen their grips on theories, grammars and frameworks to embrace a more open, immaterial and perceptual perspective on literacy practices.

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