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Exploring 'limits of the local' : a case study of literacy-in-action in a contemporary intermediate classroom Lenters, Kimberly Ann


This study enters the ongoing theoretical conversation about New Literacy Studies (NLS) and literacy practices. Recent critiques of NLS have highlighted shortcomings related to the difficulty in accounting for the way power plays a role in shaping literacy practices (e.g., Brandt & Clinton, 2002; Collins & Blot, 2003). In their article, “Limits of the Local” Brandt and Clinton (2002) call for literacy studies that include an analysis of both localizing and globalizing activity to find a means for exploring the role of power in local literacy practices. Their call prompted much discussion within the NLS (e.g., Barton & Hamilton, 2005; Reder & Davila, 2005; Street, 2003b) and several studies that followed took up this theoretical challenge (e.g., see Pahl & Rowsell, 2006) The purpose of this study is to instantiate the "literacy-in-action” model (Brandt and Clinton, 2002), based on the work of Latour (1993; 1996), to account for and further theorize the global in local literacy practices. To date, few published studies that take up this model in all of its depth are in evidence. In this study, the “literacy-in-action” model is explored and elaborated through a qualitative case study of one classroom in order to a) build a more detailed research framework for the model and b) provide a concrete basis for discussing its merits and limitations in sociocultural studies of literacy in classroom settings. In doing so, my goal is to situate the model and move the discussion of the local and global in literacy research beyond the kind of theoretical critique NLS scholars, such as Street (2003a; 2003b) and Street and Lefstein (2007) provide.

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