Reconceptualizing the Literacies in Adolescents' Lives: Bridging the Everyday/Academic Divide

By Donna E. Alvermann; Kathleen A. Hinchman | Go to book overview

1
TOUCHSTONE CHAPTER
PLAYING FOR REAL
Texts and the Performance of Identity

Lorri Neilsen Glenn

Old paint on canvas as it ages sometimes becomes transparent. When that hap-
pens it is possible, in some pictures, to see the original lines: a tree will show
through a woman’s dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer
on an open sea ….This is called pentimento … the old conception, replaced by a
later choice, is a way of seeing and then seeing again.

Lillian Hellman (1973), Pentimento

This chapter is in two sections: Adolescence, and Early Adulthood. The first section, Adolescence, is an abbreviation of an earlier chapter written for the first edition of this handbook (Neilsen, 1998b). The earlier chapter, written eight years ago, focuses on identity creation, and on what I call “touchstone” texts informing the lives of two adolescents in high school. These touchstone texts shape the lives of David and El in ways that suggest that reading in adolescence is an activity of interpolation — whether the texts are film, cultural practices, or literary works, they inhabit the reader and the reader, in turn, writes the texts into his or her life. This earlier chapter, “Adolescence,” suggests that, as educators, we must learn which texts resonate for adolescents and why. Both the substance of “Adolescence” and the theoretical inferences have remained as they were 8 years ago in order to preserve the original data, analyses and theoretical perspectives of both the participants and the researcher in context at that time. The reader is encouraged to read this section as though he or she might be reading it 8 years ago.

The second section of this chapter is an update; here, in “Adulthood,” we meet again the two friends, David and El, 8 years after high school and after their first conversation with the researcher. What are their textual preoccupations now? What role do they believe their readings have played in shaping their lives?

-3-

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