Into the Labyrinth : A PhD Comprehensive Portfolio

Literacies: Untangling a Concept

     Surrounding these definitions of media and digital literacies there exists a veritable Pandora’s box of literacy terminology (Belshaw, 2012) including transliteracies (Sukovic 2016), cosmopolitan literacy (Zaidi & Rowsell, 2017), cultural literacies (Halpert & Chigeza, 2015), place based literacies (Harwood & Collier, 2017; Mills & Comber, 2013); artefactual literacies (Pahl & Rowsell, 2011); information communication literacies (Forkosh-Baruch & Avidov-Ungar, 2019; Horton, 2008); internet or web literacies; technological literacy; multiliteracies (New London Group, 1996); multimodal; multicultural; visual literacy (Collier 2018), transmedia literacies (Jenkins 2010), and re/mix literacies (Hoechsmann, 2019). While this literature review does not specifically examine this tangle of terminologies, they are mentioned here to acknowledge the confusion and recognize potential misconceptions resulting from the conflation of terminology (Belshaw, 2012; Spante et al. 2018).
     As a reflection of critical theoretical frameworks, my research is influenced by conceptions of critical literacies that are “historical works in progress. There is no correct or universal model. Critical literacy entails a process of naming and renaming the world, seeing its patterns, designs, and complexities, and developing the capacity to redesign and reshape it” (Luke, 2012, p. 9). This conception of critical literacy rings true for my research since how TEds "shape and deploy the tools, attitudes, and philosophies of critical literacy are utterly contingent: It depends upon students’ and teachers’ everyday relations of power, their lived problems and struggles, and … on educators’ professional ingenuity in navigating the enabling and disenabling local contexts of policy” (Luke, 2012, p. 9). 
     For this literature review, the primary conceptualization for literacy/literacies will encompass a critical framing of media and digital formats under the term MDL while recognizing that literacies are both an internal, cognitive ability and a social practice, with each requiring action and reflection. This literacy conception will be contextually placed within teacher education and the teaching and learning relating to MDL done in FoE. While Stordy’s (2015) taxonomies of literacies is particularly helpful as a starting point for a preliminary understanding of literacy/literacies, there is potential for further development for generating a phylogenetic graphic to establish origin stories of literacy terminology, integrating information about inherited characteristics, but that required more time than is available for this current review. 


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