Literacy and Social Justice

“I really, really liked this course and Dr. Lueck. Her energy is contagious and it was consistently obvious that she was interested in the material and wanted to hear our perspectives about these ideas.” –Literacy and Social Justice student, 2016

Course Description

In this course, we will interrogate definitions and ideologies of literacy as they circulate in the US, attending in particular to the ways these ideas about literacy impact or intersect with issues of social justice. That is, we ask both what is literacy? And who does this definition of literacy serve? Who does it oppress? We will explore these questions across our course readings and discussion, through your research, and through your original compositions.

Major Assignments

  • Initial Critical Literacy Narrative- using one or two texts from our course, write a 4-5-page thesis-driven narrative of your experiences with literacy, citing appropriate evidence from the readings to provide further insight into your experiences and how these experiences have shaped your literacy. These narratives will be written from a critical point of view that demonstrates depth and mindfulness of rhetorical situation with regard to the course’s purpose of examining the implications of literacy on issues of inequality. While in the genre of “narrative,” these thesis-driven compositions with citations will come about as products of the writing process, demonstrating critical reading and active knowledge-construction in their composition.
  • Class Facilitation- Each week, student groups will be responsible for working cooperatively to prepare the class activity—whether it be a short presentation, writing-based prompt or something creative—as well as facilitating the class discussion based on Ch. 3 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, crafting generating themes to actively engage in civic issues of literacy. To do so, seminar leaders for that week will prepare questions related to specific aspects, themes, and topics related to the reading. Before facilitating the discussion, students should plan to meet with Dr. Lueck to discuss their approach, presentation or discussion activity (or communicate via email). You will sign up for facilitation in advance and must be present and actively engaged in all aspects of the process to receive credit. There is no make-up option for missed sessions.
  • Small Group Policy/Issue Research Sequence- This assignment sequence asks you to work collaboratively with a peer group to research a policy, organization, movement or public interest that has direct bearing on literacy and social justice. I will ask you to consider questions such as:     What assumptions about literacy does it rely on or perpetuate?Who does it serve and who might it oppress?What rhetorical strategies are used to make their argument?

    This assignment is broken into a series of separate products, including a topic selection report, a web archive (of tweets, blogs, articles, images, gifs relating to your topic), a rhetorical analysis of the “conversation” about your topic (3-4 pages), a research presentation, an annotated bibliography (10-12 pages), and a 10-12 page seminar paper (one each per group). These products each have unique due dates and will be separately assessed, though they will be collectively graded as part of a group work portfolio submitted in Week Nine. Grades will consider both quality of the products and quality of individual team member participation, as informed by team evaluations.

  • Final Critical Literacy Narrative- This final reflective assignment asks you to consider how your research, speakers attended, and our readings intersected with one another and changed your views of literacy and social justice (4-5 pages).