Literacy as Worldmaking

Multimodality, creativity and cosmopolitanism

Authored by: Amy Stornaiuolo

The Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415816243
eBook ISBN: 9781315717647
Adobe ISBN: 9781317510611

10.4324/9781315717647.ch37

 

Abstract

In their article about how disability functions more as a property of culture than of individuals, McDermott and Varenne (1995) use a powerful metaphor to describe how we engage with one another across difference. They argue that culture is a process of “hammering a world,” with “people hammering each other into shape with the well structured tools already available” (McDermott and Varenne 1995: 326). Their metaphor is particularly useful when considering the ways in which the cultural tools we have accessible to us – especially the multiple representational forms now available via digital technologies – function as formidable resources for writing and rewriting our world, “transforming it through conscious, practical work” (Freire 1987: 35). The process of transforming the world through “symbolic work” (Willis 1990) is not an uncomplicated one, fraught with the difficulties of communicating and understanding across vast differences in ideologies, languages, geographies, and cultures as we hammer one another into shape using the multimodal symbolic tools at our disposal. Yet this effort to create meaning together across differences also affords profound pleasure in the creativity of everyday living (Rymes 2013; Willis 1990) and represents “a fundamental human capacity for living in a global world” (Hull and Stornaiuolo 2014: 16). In this chapter, I explore how people’s literate activities in the context of globalization are practices of worldmaking (cf. Goodman 1978; Holland et al. 1998), a process of constructing shared worlds through symbolic practices that intertwine the creative, ethical, and intellectual in the act of making meaning from the multiple and dynamic cultural resources at hand.

 Add to shortlist  Cite

Literacy as Worldmaking

Introduction

In their article about how disability functions more as a property of culture than of individuals, McDermott and Varenne (1995) use a powerful metaphor to describe how we engage with one another across difference. They argue that culture is a process of “hammering a world,” with “people hammering each other into shape with the well structured tools already available” (McDermott and Varenne 1995: 326). Their metaphor is particularly useful when considering the ways in which the cultural tools we have accessible to us – especially the multiple representational forms now available via digital technologies – function as formidable resources for writing and rewriting our world, “transforming it through conscious, practical work” (Freire 1987: 35). The process of transforming the world through “symbolic work” (Willis 1990) is not an uncomplicated one, fraught with the difficulties of communicating and understanding across vast differences in ideologies, languages, geographies, and cultures as we hammer one another into shape using the multimodal symbolic tools at our disposal. Yet this effort to create meaning together across differences also affords profound pleasure in the creativity of everyday living (Rymes 2013; Willis 1990) and represents “a fundamental human capacity for living in a global world” (Hull and Stornaiuolo 2014: 16). In this chapter, I explore how people’s literate activities in the context of globalization are practices of worldmaking (cf. Goodman 1978; Holland et al. 1998), a process of constructing shared worlds through symbolic practices that intertwine the creative, ethical, and intellectual in the act of making meaning from the multiple and dynamic cultural resources at hand.

I begin this chapter by considering the ways that scholars in the field of literacy studies have taken up interrelated issues of multimodality, aesthetics, and cosmopolitanism to address the complexities of making meaning now, particularly the challenges of communicating across the semiotic and cultural diversities that characterize our global world. Next, I suggest that while these three interwoven strands are key to understanding the literate arts of worldmaking, critical issues in the field include taking better theoretical account of the role of improvisation and emotion, particularly the ways meaning emerges from ongoing activity and involves people’s bodies and emotions. I then consider how a worldmaking framework can help to address these issues, and I illustrate this framework in relationship to recent research with a teacher who wove cosmopolitanism, creativity, and multimodality into his pedagogical practice. In the rest of the chapter, I consider the methodological and practical implications of worldmaking for literacy studies, particularly the opportunities for agentive repositioning of self, other, and world within asymmetrical power relations and pervasive systemic inequities.

Historical perspectives

In light of the rapid changes in the communicative landscape in the decades preceding and following the turn of the twenty-first century, it is perhaps no surprise that literacy scholars have embraced theories of multimodality, arguing for an expanded view of literacy that situates written communication within a broader semiotic landscape (e.g., Bezemer and Kress 2008; Jewitt 2008; Siegel and Panofsky 2009; Vasudevan et al. 2010). Written language is understood to be intimately intertwined with other communicative modes (e.g., audio and image), and though certain modes might be more culturally articulated and valued (e.g., print) and serve different functions in different contexts, modes can be combined to powerful effect, creating qualitatively new meanings by their braiding (Hull and Nelson 2005). At the same time that literacy scholars have explored the ways in which meaning making is inherently multimodal and situated within particular social contexts of use (Dyson 2001; Stein 2008; Street et al. 2009), mediated communication has opened new avenues for materials and people to circulate as well as provided new opportunities for textual production, dissemination, and distribution (Kress 2010; Lankshear and Knobel 2011; Pahl and Rowsell 2006; Rowsell 2013). These rapid changes in the communicational landscape were the conceptual impetus for the New London Group’s (1996) multiliteracies framework, an educational agenda that put the semiotic, cultural, and linguistic diversities of our global world at the center of a reimagined literacy pedagogy. By focusing on the concept of design, the New London Group brought attention to the intentional and designful work of young people who could use (i.e., engage in a process of designing) and transform (i.e., redesign) existing multimodal resources (i.e., available designs) as they navigated diversity and difference.

A number of scholars in literacy studies have focused on the ways that people engage in these designful practices artfully – by weaving together, hybridizing, remixing, and transforming multimodal texts (e.g., Dyson 2001; Hull and Katz 2006; Lam 2006; Lankshear and Knobel 2007; Rymes 2013). These creative, artful practices represent one means of designing a self, as young people regularly use widely circulating popular culture and digital media as resources for self-imagining. Literacy researchers have turned to aesthetic theories to help them understand these creative practices as part of a fundamentally human process of sense making that involves many ways of knowing (Albers et al. 2012; Dewey 1934; Eisner 2002; Finnegan 2002; Willis 1990). Symbolizing, these theories hold, is a central part of human activity (Goodman 1976), what Willis (1990) calls the “symbolic work” embedded in everyday practice. Willis explores how people engage in symbolic creativity, using the materials at their disposal to remake the world and the self through their aesthetic engagements. Building on Willis’ work, Hull and Nelson (2009) call for an aesthetic grounding for literacy studies, arguing that an arts focus foregrounds awareness and imagination and links the pleasures of meaning making with the pleasures of making and enacting a self (cf. Albers and Harste 2007). This intertwining of aesthetics and literacy, Hull and Nelson suggest, fosters the imaginative agility needed to engage in empathetic communicative practices and imagine oneself in relation to others.

To theorize how people imagine themselves not just in relation to others but to the world more broadly, scholars in literacy studies have turned toward theories of cosmopolitanism (Campano and Ghiso 2010; Harper et al. 2010; Hull et al. 2010; Stornaiuolo et al. 2011). An ancient set of philosophies about how we can learn with and from others who are not “of kith and kind” (Appiah 2006), cosmopolitanism is “primarily about viewing oneself as part of a world, a circle of belonging that transcends the limited ties of kinship and country to embrace the whole of humanity” (Cheah 2008: 26). In this sense, Cheah reminds us, “the cosmopolitan optic is not one of perceptual experience but of the imagination” (ibid.), as people must imagine themselves in relation to the world as they balance local and global commitments with a stance of openness toward the unfamiliar (Hansen 2011). While cosmopolitanism’s focus on mutual understanding and tolerance has been critiqued for an overly normative, Western, and elitist bias, scholars are reimagining cosmopolitanism as a rooted, experiential phenomenon (Appiah 2006; Moore 2012; cf. Vasudevan 2014) that is at once creative and moral, a way of being in the world tied to the art of living (Hansen 2014). Literacy researchers have begun exploring how cosmopolitan theories offer a fresh approach to understanding difference in a world characterized by accelerated transnational flows of people and materials, one that takes account of how the global and the local interpenetrate our meaning-making practices. For example, Glynda Hull and I have explored cosmopolitanism ‘on the ground’ in an educational social networking project that connected youth around the world, and we have theorized young people’s interlaced global/local literate practices as cosmopolitan literacies: “the cognitive, emotional, ethical, and aesthetic meaning-making capacities and practices of authors and audiences as they take differently situated others into account” (Hull and Stornaiuolo 2014: 17; cf. Campano et al. 2013; Hull et al. 2013). The notion of cosmopolitan literacies highlights the ethical dimensions of textual and semiotic practice, or how we might read, write, and communicate with diverse others in powerful, responsible, and hospitable ways. I suggest later in this chapter that these cosmopolitan literacies can function as key building blocks in worldmaking, intertwining the multimodal and the creative with the ethical as people imagine themselves in relation to others and the world.

Critical issues: emergence and embodiment

While theories of multimodality and design have broadened our understandings of textuality and meaning making, one persistent critique has been that multimodal approaches to meaning making remain too text-centric (Anderson 2013; Bazalgette and Buckingham 2013; Lankshear and Knobel 2011; Leander and Boldt 2013; Siegel and Panofsky 2009). What are we missing, literacy scholars ask, when we attend primarily to the ways in which meaning is designed? How does meaning emerge from interaction in unforeseen ways that cannot be textually explained and that take into account improvisation? How is meaning on the move and how is it socially, historically, and culturally rooted in processes of production? Leander and Boldt (2013) pose such questions as they theorize emergence as a central yet overlooked dimension of literate practice, specifically asking how meaning unfolds as a spontaneous and improvisational process, not necessarily a designed one (cf. Pahl 2009). They encourage researchers to engage in nonrepresentational readings of interaction, thinking less about people’s representational or symbolic practices and more about the quality of the movement unfolding across space-time. Similarly, Bazalgette and Buckingham (2013) critique the ways that theories of multimodality look less at the processes and more at the product of meaning making, in effect rendering a dynamic process flat and partial and attributing too much agency to the modes themselves rather than the actors and the social contexts in which activities unfold. Siegel and Panofsky (2009) caution that such a limited focus on the individual designer or text, in addition to being utopian, obscures the social, historical, and political forces at play in meaning making. They advocate for a critical, social view of multimodality that takes into account interlocking systems of oppression and is situated within contemporary conversations about literacies, diversities, and power. Instead of focusing on the semiotic ensemble or a designer’s future goals, these scholars suggest, we should attend more closely to the interplay and movement of actors, contexts, and artifacts in the present moment in order to understand how meaning making always unfolds in time and space in relation to political, economic, ideological, and cultural exigencies.

A number of scholars interested in questions of emergence are calling for more complexity in theorizing how people’s bodies and emotions are intimately intertwined with meaning making (e.g., Albers et al. 2012; Leander and Boldt 2013; Lewis and Tierney 2013). A focus on textuality, in addition to abstracting meaning making from its processes of production, creates binaries between textual production and people’s emotions and embodied engagement with material realities (cf. Finnegan 2002; Stein 2008). Recent work to theorize materiality in relation to literacy studies has highlighted these practices as part of assemblages that include the body as well as material artifacts (Burnett et al. 2014; Pahl and Rowsell 2010). In the following section, I consider the ways that a worldmaking perspective incorporates improvisation and emotion by shifting the focus from textuality to the construction and creation of shared worlds, a broader way of imagining literate practices within social, cultural, and historical contexts emergent from activity.

Current contributions and research: worldmaking

Worldmaking is not a new idea, but it is one that seems particularly apt for describing the participatory, productive practices that have come to characterize literacy activities in the digitally mediated, globally connected twenty-first century. Never before have people been content creators and collaborators on the scale and scope available in our contemporary participatory culture, as people connect, consume, and produce with and for others as part of their everyday lives (Jenkins et al. 2006). People regularly connect to friends and strangers online, tweeting, posting, reading, and uploading content via mobile devices in ways that make it increasingly difficult to theorize online/offline as separate realms. People build and construct worlds with others across virtual and physical spaces, whether via a game world like World of Warcraft, a virtual reality like Second Life, a news community like Reddit, or a social network like Instagram. People’s participation in these virtual/material worlds powerfully illustrates the ways we are always engaged in a variety of “imagined communities” (Anderson 1983) as we build the realities we live in.

In his book Ways of Worldmaking, Nelson Goodman (1978) describes how we construct multiple worlds through social interaction, with no one objective real world waiting to be discovered apart from our frames of interpretation. Goodman’s task, as he saw it, was to theorize the ways we create shared worlds from what is already available: “Worldmaking as we know it always starts from worlds already on hand; the making is a remaking” (p. 6). Worldmaking is thus a kind of remixing on a broad scale, a way of creating new orders of reality by remaking worlds from other worlds. Goodman suggests five ways we do so – composition/decomposition, weighting/emphasis, ordering, deletion/supplementation, and deformation – as a jumping point for imagining how such a process works. What is important here for understanding the literate arts of worldmaking is Goodman’s emphasis on the processes of building worlds from other worlds – sometimes by taking them apart and reassembling them and other times by ordering or deleting elements. The question of emergence is at the center of any inquiry into process, and such a focus shifts emphasis from outcomes and intentions to the activity of building connections between worlds. This shift in focus to activity helps us see that the relationships among worlds, especially how those get created through our symbolizing practices, should be a primary concern.

Holland and colleagues (1998) theorize how we construct and connect these recognized frames of social life – these ‘figured worlds’ – through our historically and culturally rooted interactions, looking in one example at the world of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Just like in figured worlds of romance or academia, the world of AA is historically situated, and people enter (or are recruited) into these socially organized realms while also helping to shape such worlds. In the figured world of AA, poker chips become symbols of sobriety and personal stories become shaped, honed, and publicly shared to serve as emblematic narratives helping participants not drink. People in AA undergo a transformation of how they see themselves, no longer as drinking non-alcoholics but as non-drinking alcoholics, a shift that requires a new frame of understanding and new ways of interpreting one’s actions. In figured worlds, Holland and colleagues argue, people always construct identities within and through their participation, engaging in ‘social play’ that is agentive and dynamic. Identity as a process, tied to what people do, links the construction of a self with the construction of a world: “Like all other aspects of worldmaking, self-making (or ‘life-making’) depends heavily upon the symbolic system in which it is conducted – its opportunities and constraints” (Bruner 1991: 77). In Bruner’s words, self-making is one aspect of worldmaking, a means of creating a life out of many possibilities, as we construct ourselves in the context of, and through, our symbolic practices and systems.

Indeed, Holland et al. (1998) describe symbolization as one of the primary forms of agency within figured worlds. The human ability to play with symbols allows us to do work in the world (e.g., using reformulated narratives in AA to help oneself not drink) and provides the central means of imagining new possibilities (especially through forms of ‘social play’ like art and ritual). A second form of agency, one intertwined with our capacity to represent meanings through symbols, is improvisation, part of a back and forth engagement that exploits the possibilities for action even within power asymmetries (e.g., a woman climbing a balcony to avoid entering the kitchen of a higher caste family in a figured world in which caste plays a central organizing role). The intertwining of symbolization and improvisation highlights the agentive role people take up within the flow of everyday interaction as they work with others to imagine, construct, create, and transform the material and semiotic dimensions of human activity.

My recent work with teachers using social networking in education illustrates how a worldmaking lens offers a generative framework for understanding globalized literacy practices that intertwine issues of multimodality, cosmopolitanism, and creativity, particularly the intersections of literacies, diversities, and power (Siegel and Panofsky 2009). A worldmaking framework provides a valuable means of understanding how one New York City teacher, artist Jake Casey, created a powerful classroom space that helped adolescents who had experienced systematic oppression and schooling challenges reframe themselves as activist-artists. As part of a two-year multi-sited ethnography (Marcus 1995), I conducted a case study of Jake’s afterschool class that combined media arts with social networking. Young people in the program created media projects that they shared with other teens on a private, international social network (Space2Cre8) 1 as part of their twice-weekly work with Jake.

As a practicing artist focused on social justice and new media composition, Jake was deeply interested in the ways that artistic practice could help young people make sense of their lives, and he positioned students as fellow artists at every turn, saying: “We’re all, like, artists in the room.” The idea that art permeated every aspect of young people’s lives, that their symbolic engagements were artistic practices, informed every aspect of the program: “I really want them to think artistically about how they’re constructing themselves and constructing their environment, and I’m always going to try to instill in them an aesthetic sensibility to documenting things.” This focus on the art of the everyday – how young people constructed themselves and their environments on a moment-by-moment basis and documented this work – infused the activity system of the program (as Luisa explained, “everything [we do] like has art in it”), helping them ‘figure’ themselves and their worlds through ongoing activity.

One of the most important dimensions of this literate worldmaking was naming their worlds and their identities within them, especially as young people from nondominant communities who often found themselves marginalized and silenced. By naming their worlds, giving voice to their stories and their experiences, participants were engaged in the remaking process, forming and reforming worlds from existing worlds and making spaces for new stories and ways of being. Emilio described how this naming and renaming process occurred through their artistic endeavors, as they told others about “all the problems that we face growing up in New York… about poverty, gang relations, … domestic problems” and then engaged in artistic interpretation of those issues to “make people think outside the box.” Youth participants looked critically at their worlds, especially the ways that their experiences and cultures have been historically subordinated, and helped others do so too through their artistic work (i.e., helping people “think outside the box” through art). This (re)naming of their worlds, particularly in relation to the injustices they faced as young people of color whose voices were rarely heard, was not possible in school because, as Emilio explained, “at school, we have to listen to other people, what they say is right”; in the program, on the other hand, Emilio said, “We could do anything…. I could put my ideas out there. And it would be heard.” The group, as Emilio explained, could do anything they imagined in the space of the afterschool program, and people would listen to them as artist-activists who were documenting their experiences of injustice. As one young filmmaker, Vince, described, their collaborative symbolic work was key in agentively repositioning themselves as people who deserved to be listened to and heard: “We’re just like the kids from whatever hood we’re from who have something to say. And we find it in this program. We can say it. And we might be able to be heard because of this program.”

As Holland and colleagues (1998) argue, people always construct identities within and through their participation in figured worlds, and youth in the New York arts program came to see themselves as artists who had something to say and a means to share it. Vince, for example, saw the power of the group tied to their capacity to imagine new possibilities as artists and use that identity to make a difference:

[We’re] definitely a group that dreams. Dreams of a better community. Dreams that we want to be heard or seen. We want – we have something to say. We have something to say and we want the public to hear it. That’s what we are.

In this interview excerpt, Vince described how he was engaged in the twin processes of self-making and worldmaking as he imagined himself and his fellow classmates as activist-artists who collaboratively worked toward change within the global community. Luisa narrated how this artistic identity became important to her in the world more broadly, as people on the street stopped her to ask about the group’s work: “I like to explain [our artistic work] because they look at us like inspiration, and inspiration with – they look at us like, like we’re like the future. So they’re like, ‘Oh my God, I wanna do what they’re doing!’” For Luisa, it was deeply motivating to be seen as inspirational artists and activists (“the future”) by people on the street, rather than as ‘troublemakers’ or ‘bad students’ or other identities ascribed to the young people in other contexts.

An important dimension of worldmaking in this classroom space was its emergent and improvisational nature. Jake called the process “organic” and tried to create an environment in which youth could engage in creative practices that emerged from their interests, their resources, and one another. Emilio described the power of such an organic environment for helping to create space for figuring or imagining worlds:

In our program, we can always change the flow, you know what I mean? It doesn’t always have to go by – we can have an idea for one thing, and then as we’re doing it, we’ll think about other ideas and incorporate that into the original idea.

Emilio highlighted the importance of “flow” for generating new ideas, which then became remixed and incorporated – remade – as the collaboration unfolded over time. This collaborative process of creating art together was a central part of the worldmaking of Jake’s classroom and fundamentally tied to the kinds of cosmopolitan literacies we saw develop over time. That is, the participants in this program had to find ways to work together in a sensitive and responsive manner, not just with people in their classroom but with others in the global Space2Cre8 community (see Hull and Stornaiuolo 2014). These ethical entailments of global communication were tightly bound up with youth’s creative symbolic practices and their sense of self. As Vince described of the program, “We learn life things. How to be a better human. How to be a better you, I guess. How to use your imagination.” In this classroom, Vince and his colleagues worked with Jake to figure a world in which young people had something new to say and a means to say it, but most importantly, how to become better humans as they imagined new futures.

Recommendations for practice

Thinking about literacy from a worldmaking perspective highlights two critical aspects of contemporary meaning making: the role of the global (the ‘world’ part) and the productive dimensions of literate practice (the ‘making’ part). By introducing the global into the self–other equation, a worldmaking lens foregrounds diversity, emphasizing how people can live together in the world and communicate across differences. It accentuates the cultural and historical dimensions of imagining such a world, compelling us not to shy away from conflict but to embrace it as a generative process helping us attend to the power dynamics and asymmetries embedded in making meaning. As Kress (2010) and Street et al. (2009) emphasize, the modal resources we engage with in making meaning are always shaped by cultures over time, becoming saturated with ideological meanings and values instantiated in situated literacy practices. These artifacts can act as ‘pivots’ in worldmaking, functioning as mediating devices facilitating the move between and across worlds by shifting the “perceptual, cognitive, affective, and practical frame of activity” (Holland et al. 1998: 63; cf. Vygotsky 1978). In this way, we never inhabit one ‘true’ world that can be objectively discovered but rather create multiple worlds by collaboratively visioning and re-visioning ourselves always in dynamic and shifting relationships with others and artifacts within sociohistoric time and place. Central to this worldmaking activity is the role of the imagination, the creative capacity to envision new possibilities and connections, to create coherence out of dissonance, to “conceive other realities and the realities of others” (Hull and Nelson 2009: 220; cf. Cheah 2008). Imagination is necessary for the critical work of communicating across difference, especially for developing the empathy, openness, and ethical and aesthetic sensitivities (i.e., cosmopolitan literacies) required for twenty-first century literate practice.

A second implication of a worldmaking lens is the renewed focus on the dynamic and active process of meaning making, especially its emergent, agentive, and participatory dimensions. Less directly focused on texts or textual production, a worldmaking perspective alerts us to the multiple dimensions of activity and people’s agentive role in producing, constructing, and creating meaning in collaboration with people and things over time (Wertsch 1998). This broader perspective on human activity and the connections between modalities, bodies, emotions, and artifacts can help make room for considering the emergent dimensions of meaning making within situated practice. These everyday practices in the art of living are always intertwined with people’s identity processes and alert us to the agentive dimensions of literate practice that might otherwise be unnoticed. We can look more carefully at the ways in which people engage in participatory cultures (Jenkins et al. 2006) – what they do and not just what they make.

Future directions: hammering worlds

This chapter has focused on bringing together theories of multimodality, creativity, and cosmopolitanism within literacy studies to consider the literate arts of worldmaking, a process of building multiple, shared interpretive realms out of an array of cultural resources in the service of communicating across differences. Worldmaking, by intertwining issues of diversity and identity with questions of process and becoming, helps shift focus to activity and agentive, collaborative work. It keeps questions of difference at the forefront – worldmaking indeed involves hammering one another with our cultural tools, though this process, rather than being problematic, can serve as a generative creative force. The potentially conflictual and contradictory dimensions of communicating across differences highlight the importance of theorizing the ethical dimensions of literate practice: How can people communicate sensitively, thoughtfully, responsively, and creatively across differences in language, culture, beliefs, and histories? How can people learn to work together to “become better humans,” as Vince suggested? Some of my recent work with colleagues on cosmopolitan literacies suggests that people can employ a variety of strategies for empathetic and hospitable communication (Hull and Stornaiuolo 2014; Hull et al. 2013), and that these everyday creative practices can function as key resources in worldmaking. These practices of creating worlds, especially remaking worlds in order to incorporate new voices, stories, and perspectives – ones that are often silenced or marginalized – are fundamental to developing our capacities as human beings and imagining new futures: “Human life is inexplicable without our abilities to figure worlds, play at them, act them out, and then make them socially, culturally, and thus materially consequential” (Holland et al. 1998: 280).

One of the most important dimensions of worldmaking is the capacity to imagine. Creativity is at the heart of the semiotic and social work involved in imagining social worlds, and imagination forms the cornerstone of our capacity to agentively shape meaning, especially within asymmetries of power. The question of how we might foster and facilitate the imaginative agility needed for communicating in a global world remains one of the most salient facing scholars of literacy now. Moje (2013) suggests that the metaphor of navigation offers a focus on the ways that people make meaning within and across spaces, and in so doing “confront the in-between, the discourse that is neither their own nor the other’s, the practice that they both take up and change” (p. 366). The literate arts of worldmaking include the navigational practices of tacking between multiple discourses, languages, practices, and activities that constitute our lived worlds, offering us new ways to imagine the relationships between and among worlds that we might create, inhabit, and transform.

Note

More information about this project, directed by Glynda Hull and funded by the Spencer Foundation, can be found at www.space2cre8.com.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Jennifer Higgs, Matthew Hall, David Low, and the volume editors for their thoughtful suggestions on an earlier version of this chapter. I also extend my appreciation to the Space2Cre8 team, especially Glynda Hull and Jake Casey and his students.

Related topics

New Literacy Studies, Social semiotics, Popular culture and digital worlds, Aesthetics, Play and creativity.

Further reading

Campano, G. and Ghiso, M. P. (2010) Immigrant students as cosmopolitan intellectuals, in S. A. Wolf K. Coats P. Enciso C. A. Jenkins (eds.), Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature, New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 164–176.
This chapter argues that educators should cultivate a cosmopolitan stance, positioning students as cosmopolitan intellectuals who bring a diversity of experiences and knowledges to bear on learning.
Finnegan, R. (2013) Communicating: The Multiple Modes of Human Interconnection, 2nd edition, Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
The new edition of this book highlights that even within a digitally mediated culture it is important to understand the multisensory, creative qualities of human communication and interaction, particularly in light of Western cultures’ emphasis on rationality and referentiality that does not consider the embodied and material dimensions of communication.
Hansen, D. T. (2011) The Teacher and the World: A Study of Cosmopolitanism as Education, Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
This book is a powerful introduction to the idea of cosmopolitanism for educators, providing them a lens through which to view the challenges and opportunities of teaching in a globalized world and ideas for responding creatively.
Hull, G. and Stornaiuolo, A. (2014) Cosmopolitan literacies, social networks, and ‘proper distance’: Striving to understand in a global world, Curriculum Inquiry, 44(1): 15–44.
This article theorizes cosmopolitan literacies and explores what engaged cosmopolitanism looks like in empirical, interactional detail.
Stein, P. (2008) Multimodal Pedagogies in Diverse Classrooms: Representation, Rights, and Resources, New York, NY: Routledge.
Linking issues of multimodality with pedagogy and social justice, Stein examines how classrooms can become transformative spaces, not just in the South African classrooms she discusses in the book but in all classrooms that address diversity, multilingualism, and multiculturalism.

References

Albers, P. and Harste, J. C. (2007) The arts, new literacies, and multimodality, English Education, 40(1): 6–20.
Albers, P. , Holbrook, T. , and Harste, J. C. (2012) Speaking with/in the lines: An autoethnographical study of three literacy researchers-artists, Literacy Research Association Yearbook, 61(1): 180–195.
Anderson, B. (1983) Imagined Communities, London: Verso.
Anderson, K. T. (2013) Contrasting systemic functional linguistic and situated literacies approaches to multimodality in literacy and writing studies, Written Communication, 30(3): 276–299.
Appiah, K. A. (2006) Cosmopolitanism, New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Bazalgette, C. and Buckingham, D. (2013) Literacy, media and multimodality: A critical response, Literacy, 47(2): 95–102.
Bezemer, J. and Kress, G. (2008) Writing in multimodal texts: A social semiotic account of designs for learning, Written Communication, 25(2): 166–195.
Bruner, J. (1991) Self-making and world-making, Journal of Aesthetic Education, 25(1): 67–78.
Burnett, C. , Merchant, G. , Pahl, K. , and Rowsell, J. (2014) The (im)materiality of literacy: The significance of subjectivity to new literacies research, Discourse, 35(1): 90–103.
Campano, G. and Ghiso, M. P. (2010) Immigrant students as cosmopolitan intellectuals, in S. A. Wolf K. Coats P. Enciso C. A. Jenkins (eds.), Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature, New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 164–176.
Campano, G. , Ghiso, M. P. , Yee, M. , and Pantoja, A. (2013) Toward community research and coalitional literacy practices for educational justice, Language Arts, 90(5), 314–326.
Cheah, P. (2008) What is a world? On world literature as world-making activity, Daedalus, 137(3): 26–38.
Dewey, J. (1934) Art as Experience, New York, NY: Perigee.
Dyson, A. H. (2001) Writing and children’s symbolic repertoires: Development unhinged, in S. B. Neuman D. Dickinson (eds.), Handbook of Early Literacy Research, New York, NY: Guilford, pp. 126–141.
Eisner, E. (2002) The Arts and the Creation of Mind, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Finnegan, R. (2002) Communicating: The Multiple Modes of Human Interconnection, London: Routledge.
Freire, P. (1987) The importance of the act of reading, in P. Freire D. Macedo (eds.), Literacy: Reading the Word and the World, South Hadley, MA: Bergin and Garvey, pp. 29–36.
Goodman, N. (1976) Languages of Art, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing.
Goodman, N. (1978) Ways of Worldmaking, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing.
Hansen, D. T. (2011) The Teacher and the World: A Study of Cosmopolitanism as Education, Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Hansen, D. T. (2014) Cosmopolitanism as cultural creativity: New modes of educational practice in globalizing times, Curriculum Inquiry, 44(1): 1–14.
Harper, H. , Bean, T. W. , and Dunkerly, J. (2010) Cosmopolitanism, globalization and the field of adolescent literacy, Canadian and International Education, 39(3): 1–13.
Holland, D. , Lachiotte Jr., W. , Skinner, D. , and Cain, C. (1998) Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Hull, G. and Katz, M. (2006) Crafting an agentive self: Case studies on digital storytelling, Research in the Teaching of English, 41(1): 43–81.
Hull, G. and Nelson, M. E. (2005) Locating the semiotic power of multimodality, Written Communication, 22(2): 224–261.
Hull, G. and Nelson, M. E. (2009) Literacy, media, and morality: Making the case for an aesthetic turn, in M. Prinsloo M. Baynham (eds.), The Future of Literacy Studies, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 199–228.
Hull, G. and Stornaiuolo, A. (2014) Cosmopolitan literacies, social networks, and ‘proper distance’: Striving to understand in a global world, Curriculum Inquiry, 44(1): 15–44.
Hull, G. A. , Stornaiuolo, A. , and Sahni, U. (2010) Cultural citizenship and cosmopolitan practice: Global youth communicate online, English Education, 42(4): 331–367.
Hull, G. A. , Stornaiuolo, A. , and Sterponi, L. (2013) Imagined readers and hospitable texts: Global youth connect online, in D. Alvermann N. Unrau R. Ruddell (eds.), Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading, 6th edition, Newark, DE: IRA, pp. 1208–1240.
Jenkins, H. , Clinton, K. , Purushotma, R. , Robison, A. J. , and Weigel, M. (2006) Confronting the Challenge of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, Chicago, IL: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. available at:: http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF .
Jewitt, C. (2008) Multimodality and literacy in school classrooms, Review of Research in Education, 32(1): 241–267.
Kress, G. (2010) Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication, New York, NY: Routledge.
Lam, W. S. E. (2006) Culture and learning in the context of globalization: Research directions, Review of Research in Education, 30(1): 213–237.
Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (2007) A New Literacies Sampler, New York, NY: Peter Lang.
Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (2011) New Literacies: Changing Knowledge and Classroom Learning, 3rd edition, Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.
Leander, K. and Boldt, G. (2013) Rereading ‘A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies’: Bodies, texts, and emergence, Journal of Literacy Research, 45(1): 22–46.
Lewis, C. and Tierney, J. D. (2013) Mobilizing emotion in an urban classroom: Producing identities and transforming signs in a race-related discussion, Linguistics and Education, 24(3): 289–304.
Marcus, G. E. (1995) Ethnography in/of the world system: The emergence of multi-sited ethnography, Annual Review of Anthropology, 24: 95–117.
McDermott, R. and Varenne, H. (1995) Culture as disability, Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 26(3): 324–348.
Moje, E. B. (2013) Hybrid literacies in a post-hybrid world: Making a case for navigating, in K. Hall T. Cremin B. Comber L. C. Moll (eds.), International Handbook of Research on Children’s Literacy, Learning, and Culture, New York, NY: Wiley-Blackwell.
Moore, H. (2012) The fantasies of cosmopolitanism, in R. Braidotti P. Hanafin B. Blaagaard (eds.), After Cosmopolitanism, New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 97–110.
New London Group (1996) A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures, Harvard Educational Review, 66(1): 60–92.
Pahl, K. (2009) Interactions, intersections and improvisations: Studying the multimodal texts and classroom talk of six- to seven-year-olds, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 9(2): 188–210.
Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (2006) Travel Notes from the New Literacy Studies, London: Cromwell Press Ltd.
Pahl, K. and Rowsell, J. (2010) Artifactual Literacies: Every Object Tells a Story, New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Rowsell, J. (2013) Working with Multimodality: Rethinking Literacy in a Digital Age, New York, NY: Routledge.
Rymes, B. (2013) Communicating Beyond Language: Everyday Encounters with Diversity, New York, NY: Routledge.
Siegel, M. and Panofsky, C. P. (2009) Designs for multimodality in literacy studies: Explorations in analysis, National Reading Conference Yearbook, 58(1): 99–111.
Stein, P. (2008) Multimodal Pedagogies in Diverse Classrooms: Representation, Rights, and Resources, New York, NY: Routledge.
Stornaiuolo, A. , Hull, G. , and Sahni, U. (2011) Cosmopolitan imaginings of self and other: Youth and social networking in a global world, in J. Fisherkeller (ed.), International Perspectives on Youth Media: Cultures of Production and Education, New York, NY: Peter Lang, pp. 263–280.
Street, B. V. , Pahl, K. , and Rowsell, J. (2009) Multimodality and New Literacy Studies, in C. Jewitt (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis, New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 191–200.
Vasudevan, L. (2014) Multimodal cosmopolitanism: Cultivating belonging in everyday moments with youth, Curriculum Inquiry, 44(1): 45–67.
Vasudevan, L. , Schultz, K. , and Bateman, J. (2010) Rethinking composing in a digital age: Authoring literate identities through multimodal storytelling, Written Communication, 27(4): 442–468.
Vygotsky, L. (1978) Mind in Society, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Wertsch, J. V. (1998) Mind as Action, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Willis, P. (1990) Common Culture: Symbolic Work at Play in the Everyday Culture of the Young, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.