Writing Games: Multicultural Case Studies of Academic Literacy Practices in Higher Education

Writing Games: Multicultural Case Studies of Academic Literacy Practices in Higher Education

Writing Games: Multicultural Case Studies of Academic Literacy Practices in Higher Education

Writing Games: Multicultural Case Studies of Academic Literacy Practices in Higher Education

Synopsis

This book explores how writers from several different cultures learn to write in their academic settings, and how their writing practices interact with and contribute to their evolving identities as students and professionals in academic environments in higher education.

Embedded in a theoretical framework of situated practice, the naturalistic case studies and literacy autobiographies include portrayals of undergraduate students and teachers, master's level students, doctoral students, young bilingual faculty, and established scholars, all of whom are struggling to understand their roles in ambiguously defined communities of academic writers.

In addition to the notion of situated practice, the other powerful concept used as an interpretive framework is captured by the metaphor of "games"--a metaphor designed to emphasize that the practice of academic writing is shaped but not dictated by rules and conventions; that writing games consist of the practice of playing, not the rules themselves; and that writers have choices about whether and how to play.

Focusing on people rather than experiments, numbers, and abstractions, this interdisciplinary work draws on concepts and methods from narrative inquiry, qualitative anthropology and sociology, and case studies of academic literacy in the field of composition and rhetoric. The style of the book is accessible and reader friendly, eschewing highly technical insider language without dismissing complex issues. It has a multicultural focus in the sense that the people portrayed are from a number of different cultures within and outside North America. It is also a multivocal work: the author positions herself as both an insider and outsider and takes on the different voices of each; other voices that appear are those of her case study participants, and published authors and their case study participants. It is the author's hope that readers will find multiple ways to connect their own experiences with those of the writers the book portrays.

Excerpt

This book presents 10 years of my work in the field of academic literacy in higher education. It explores how writers from several different cultures learn to write in their academic settings, and how their writing practices interact with and contribute to their evolving identities, or positionings of themselves, as students and professionals in academic environments in higher education. Embedded in a theoretical framework of situated practice, the naturalistic case studies and literacy autobiographies include portrayals of undergraduate students and teachers, masters level students, doctoral students, young bilingual faculty, and established scholars, all of whom are struggling to understand their roles in ambiguously defined communities of academic writers. It is my hope that readers will find multiple ways to connect their own experiences with those of the writers portrayed in this book. It is also my hope that writing scholars will appreciate a book that pulls together published and previously unpublished case studies, which usually tend to be read as single instances of research, under a common interpretive lens.

The discussions of the studies I present in Writing Games reflect a situated and local rather than an abstracted view of academic writing. What abstract theorizing there is appears as one of the several frames in Chapter 1. This framework draws on the work of sociologists and anthropologists who have adopted different versions of a theory of practice to frame their work (e.g., Pierre Bourdieu, Anthony Giddens, Sherry Ortner, Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger). From the perspective of situated practice, the development of academic literacy and identity in university and professional life is seen as the acquisition of a set of local practices, embedded in a larger framework of social practice. Disciplinary enculturation and participation are thus conceptualized as experiences that are necessarily partial, diverse, conflicted, and fragmentary. This conceptualization contrasts with one in which academic writers are depicted as acquiring sets of fixed genre conventions and discipline-specific values. In the situated practice framework, people's writing lives are shown to be influenced by and interwoven with idiosyncratic personal and local factors that may or may not be anchored by more stable genre practices. The result is that writers' identities are always multiple yet incomplete, and their positions within their fields always in transition, as Roz Ivanič (1998) has found in her work on writing and identity. Because of the transitory and fragmented nature of the evolution of people's identities in academic settings, I portray writers in this book as seeking coherence and stability in the midst of complexity and uncertainty. This search for coherence involves activities that are not just cognitive, linguistic, and intellectual but also deeply social and political. Writers do not . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.