Literacy politics and literacy education : thematic perspectives in contemporary Chicana/o narrative Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/zw12z826r

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  • Literacy is often considered to be a basic set of skills to be mastered by the student; the conventional wisdom maintains that the individual who has mastered these skills is then literate. Scholars in the field of literacy studies, however, argue that such assumptions about literacy fail to take into account the social nature of literacy acquisition. Because literacy involves a socialization process, those who possess the cultural capital valued by the dominant culture upon entering the education system are best situated to succeed at literacy acquisition, while those who do not are at a decided disadvantage. Because this political aspect of education, which privileges certain types of knowledge over others, exists, marginalized groups, including people of color, non-native English speakers, and the poor, are required to disgard home literacies in favor of dominant ways of knowing in the literacy socialization process. Failure to acquire the necessary social practices leads to a failure to attain literacy. The goal of this project is to demonstrate that literacy involves a set of social practices which, when developed in a hegemonic institutional setting, are informed by a political agenda that privileges the dominant group and disables the marginalized. Through close readings of the literacy narratives of selected Chicana/o authors, I identify various influences, or literacy sponsors, that contribute to the construction of literacy identities. I then examine the various assumptions that are made about literacy and the disabling effects of this belief system. Finally, in an analysis of literacy in two novels by Chicana/o authors, I demonstrate how, through alternate forms of socialization that value the discourses of the marginalized, literacy that emphasizes a blending of cultural values can be attained.
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