14 SES 12 A, Artifactual Literacy for the Public Good: Inciting Meaning-Making through the Artifactual
This symposium explores the notion of artifactual literacy as a way of approaching literacy teaching, learning, policy, and pedagogy. There are several fields of research and theory that examine the artifactual, mixing of modes, and materiality, such as multimodal literacies (Kress, 1997; 2003; Jewitt & Kress, 2004), New Literacy Studies (Street, 1994; Pahl & Rowsell, 2005), multiliteracies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000); and cultural and material studies (Hurdley, 2006) that inform the concept of artifactual literacies.
By putting together literacy with the multimodal it is possible to see how a text has material qualities. Scholars have taken up the challenge of multimodal literacy (Kress, 1997; Kress & Jewitt, 2003; Lancaster, 2003; Stein, 2003, Flewitt 2008) and have illustrated in their research how meaning makers learn quite naturally through a variety of modes.
Artifacts open up worlds for meaning-makers, worlds that are frequently if not always silent in formal, institutional settings like schooling. Artifacts link to students’ everyday lives and cultural histories. Artifacts provide the connecting piece – they move, travel across home and school, and these movements provide power for students. Literacies are multilingual and multimodal. Artifactual literacy, as a concept, can take in as its range the movement of artifacts across sites. When students come to encounter multiple literacies, they often do so through artifacts.
Communities as ecologies connect up artifacts and allow them to cross contexts. For instance, bringing books from the library into a church, or, bringing a valued object from home to school illustrates how artifacts can resituate learners into new, different contexts. Communities as ecologies has been helpful in our research in connecting up different parts of a community and in using artifacts as expressive of those contexts.
This symposium will provide a different way of looking at issues relating to literacy as scholars present different studies with a common theme of the artifactual running throughout them. Merging artifacts with literacy offers a method for teaching and learning that opens up more space and understanding for students. Artifactual literacy acknowledges the fact that everyone has a story to tell and that we bring that story into our learning and our teaching. Such approach is tied to the everyday, and the ‘flow’ of communication that exists when people share stories about objects within a home setting or between friends or within community settings (Csikszentmihalyi & Rochberg-Halton, 1981).
The symposium will provide this approach to literacy teaching and learning by unpeeling how homes, schools, communities, neighborhoods, writing, talk, and digital media are all artifactual. It is an approach to literacy that understands that multimodality is important but also asks educators to think about literacy teaching as material and situated.
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