Document Type

Issues in Community Literacy


As a graduate student in the humanities, I am often fearful that my labor is performed for the sake of performing labor. Exacerbated by academia’s in- creasingly precarious landscape, this fear requires a hopeful antidote: a new pedagogy of and for the public. Constructed through empathic conversa- tions between universities and communities, this new approach to pub- lic scholarship and teaching relies on the aims and practices of community literacy (e.g. sustainable models of multimodal learning, social justice, and community listening) in order to refocus the humanist’s work – particularly the disjointed labors undertaken by graduate students – around the cultiva- tion of publics and counterpublics. In turn, a pedagogy of and for the public also implements the digital frameworks and organizational tools of public humanities projects to enliven community literacy praxis. Graduate student conferences are one site where we could enact this jointly constructed ap- proach. By rearticulating these conferences’ capacity for professionalization, by expanding their audience, and by reimagining their form beyond the uni- versity context, I argue that we can establish sustainable programs aimed at expanding community literacies.



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