Transnational Literacy Autobiographies As Translingual Writing 2019009068, 9780367201821, 9780367201838, 9780429259999

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Transnational Literacy Autobiographies As Translingual Writing
 2019009068, 9780367201821, 9780367201838, 9780429259999

Table of contents :
Half Title
Part I A teacher’s literacy autobiography
Part I introduction: கற்பனை—an invitation
1 Literacy autobiographies in transnational space
2 The shaping of literacy autobiographies
3 Emergence of the translingual subject
4 Negotiation strategies in transnational literacy
5 Dispositions of transnational literacies
6 கற்றது கை மண்ணளவு கல்லாதது உலகளவு
Part II Students’ literacy autobiographies
Part II introduction
7 Writing toward beauty
8 Rediscovering heritage identity through literacy
9 Writing with a Chinese heart
10 Image and learning: the story of my literacy
11 The mermaid’s immortal soul: myth, disillusionment, and the birth of a translingual identity
12 Negotiating contrasting languages and rhetorics
13 Beyond contrastive rhetoric: my first and second language literacy development
14 Shuttling between three languages and rhetorics
15 Reconstructing voice: a personal journey
16 Buenos Aires mon Amour: memories from learning to become a pluriliterate teacher
17 Recreation and education: exploring my embodied engagement in English and Korean literacies

Citation preview


The literacy autobiography is a personal narrative reflecting on how one’s experiences of spoken and written words have contributed to their ongoing relationship with language and literacy. Transnational Literacy Autobiographies as Translingual Writing is a cutting-edge study of this engaging genre of writing in academic and professional contexts. In this state-of-the-art collection, Suresh Canagarajah brings together 11 samples of writing by students that both document their literary journeys and pinpoint the seminal works affecting their development as translingual readers and writers. Integrating the narrative of the author, which is written as his own literacy autobiography, with a close analysis of these texts, this book: • • • • •

presents a case for the literacy autobiography as an archetypal genre that prepares writers for the conventions and processes required in other genres of writing; demonstrates the serious epistemological and rhetorical implications behind the genre of literacy autobiography among migrant scholars and students; effectively translates theoretical publications on language diversity for classroom purposes, providing a transferable teaching approach to translingual writing; analyzes the tropes of transnational writers and their craft in “meshing” translingual resources in their writing; demonstrates how transnationalism and translingualism are interconnected, guiding readers toward an understanding of codemeshing not as a cosmetic addition to texts but motivated toward resolving inescapable personal and social dilemmas.

Written and edited by one of the most highly regarded linguists of his generation, this book is key reading for scholars and students of applied linguistics, TESOL, and literacy studies, as well as tutors of writing and composition worldwide. Suresh Canagarajah is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Applied Linguistics, English, and Asian Studies, and is Director of the Migration Studies Project in the Departments of Applied Linguistics and English at Pennsylvania State University, USA.


Suresh Canagarajah

First published 2020 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 selection and editorial matter, Suresh Canagarajah; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Suresh Canagarajah to be identified as the author of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Canagarajah, A. Suresh, author. Title: Transnational literacy autobiographies as translingual writing / Suresh Canagarajah. Description: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2019. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2019009068 | ISBN 9780367201821 (hardback) | ISBN 9780367201838 (pbk.) | ISBN 9780429259999 (e-book) Subjects: LCSH: Multilingualism—Social aspects. | Literacy—Social aspects. | Multilingual persons—Biography. | Biography as a literary form. Classification: LCC P115.45 .C363 2019 | DDC 306.44/6083—dc23 LC record available at ISBN: 978-0-367-20182-1 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-20183-8 (pbk) ISBN: 978-0-429-25999-9 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Apex CoVantage, LLC





A teacher’s literacy autobiography Part I introduction: கற்பனை—an invitation



1 Literacy autobiographies in transnational space


2 The shaping of literacy autobiographies


3 Emergence of the translingual subject


4 Negotiation strategies in transnational literacy


5 Dispositions of transnational literacies


் னக மணணளவு ் கல் லாதது உலகளவு 6 கறறது



Students’ literacy autobiographies


Part II introduction


7 Writing toward beauty Ruth Parrish Sauder




8 Rediscovering heritage identity through literacy Bendi Tso


9 Writing with a Chinese heart Lifeng Miao


10 Image and learning: the story of my literacy Jialei Jiang 11 The mermaid’s immortal soul: myth, disillusionment, and the birth of a translingual identity Randi Anderson 12 Negotiating contrasting languages and rhetorics Jingjing Lai 13 Beyond contrastive rhetoric: my first and second language literacy development Shuo Zhao


198 218


14 Shuttling between three languages and rhetorics Xiaoqing Ge


15 Reconstructing voice: a personal journey Eunjeong Lee


16 Buenos Aires mon Amour: memories from learning to become a pluriliterate teacher Natalia Guzman


17 Recreation and education: exploring my embodied engagement in English and Korean literacies Michael Chesnut





As it is customary in this space, I’ll bemoan the difficulties in writing a book before thank­ ing everyone who made it a success. But I’ll do it with a twist. I will reflect on the chal­ lenges of writing a book that goes against dominant publishing conventions. To present both my own teacher narrative and the literacy autobiographies that emerged from my teaching requires a lot of space. Many publishers balked at the prospect, as it would take the book beyond acceptable space and price conventions for marketability. They wanted my narrative without those of my students. Eventually, I made some compro­ mises: I chose a few student narratives and published some online, and we agreed to forego royalties to make this economically feasible. Publishing a book that involves multiple languages also created challenges. Publish­ ers wanted at the titles of chapters in English, or least translated, as they mentioned that English titles were needed for metadata, visibility, and retrieval. I declined. I faced problems with narratives that were allusive, quoting from literary texts or embedding images. Unlike scholarly publications that provide a generous allowance for fair use, literary works require permission for every word. In quoting from different lan­ guages, we had to trace publishers in different countries. I realized that textual ownership is the enemy of creative writing. Finally, we had a rephrase many lines and avoid direct quotes in order to go ahead with publishing, when we didn’t succeed in establishing con­ tact with the authors or publishers. In the case of two students who incorporated excessive literary allusions and images, we had to pull their essays out as we didn’t succeed in getting permissions. The personal nature of this writing also created challenges. Some students felt vulner­ able making publicly available their critical and honest opinions about their cultures and life trajectories. Two students pulled out their essays at a late stage, after considerable inter­ nal debate on going forward with the publication. I thank Lizzie Cox and folks at Routledge for their patience in working with us on these difficult challenges. They allowed us considerable flexibility in nudging the policies and conventions to proceed with this publication. Two student writers featured in this book, Randi Anderson and Michael Chesnut, com­ mented extensively on the manuscript. While I taught them writing and critiqued their

viii Acknowledgments

drafts in course work, they outdid me in their criticisms to make this a better book. I thank two colleagues with a deep interest in teacher research and narratives, Rashi Jain and Anna Kaiper, for their comments. In keeping with the layers of reflexivity in the production of this book, I also shared the manuscript with students in a doctoral seminar on the Theory and Teaching of Composition. I thank Shannon Brooke, Yulia Khoruzhaya, Lera Mina­ kova, Kaitlin Ruiz, and Lauren Ward for their helpful comments. As you can infer, resistant writing and teaching is not possible without changing the publishing industry, textual ownership, and marketing practices. Despite the compromises and losses my students and I had to accept, it was worth the effort to push against the con­ ventions of academic publishing. I had to constantly remind myself of that Latin American maxim that I first uttered as a teenager growing up in rural Sri Lanka: “La lucha continua!” Suresh Canagarajah Happy Valley, Pennsylvania

Excerpt(s) from MISS RUMPHIUS by Barbara Cooney, copyright © 1982 by Barbara Cooney Porter. Used by permission of Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.


A teacher’s literacy autobiography


கற் பனை: an invitation

“Can we discuss how to deal with the painful personal experiences presented in these essays?” Tim interjects during my lecture after the short break in our three-hour class on “Teaching Second Language Writing” one evening. It is obvious that some students had discussed this need during the break. I had seen small groups of students engrossed in a conversation in the corridor in hushed voices. There was an uncomfortable silence after Tim’s question, as if no one was sure whether personal issues were an appropriate subject in an academic course. I had avoided addressing the traumatic experiences some students were narrating in their literacy autobiographies. I found it convenient to focus on issues of thematic coherence, rhetorical effectiveness, and genre conventions and avoided a discussion of the personal. To break the silence, Tim clarified almost in apology: “Some narratives are so traumatic that we don’t know how to respond to them.” The class had just peer-reviewed a draft by Ruth. She had started her university education as a highly motivated music student, when she found one day that she couldn’t practice her piano for more than a short time. A diagnosis revealed that she had muscle damage that was going to be permanent. Devastated, she changed to majoring in French and teaching English as a second language and undertook a study abroad in France. She developed a new identity and vision for her future. In the previous class, we had discussed Kyoko’s draft on grow­ ing up in Japan as a “middle child” among brothers who were always given preferential treatment. This made her seek refuge in expressive and imaginative writing, developing an alternate identity for herself. For some others, navigating countries, cultures, and institu­ tions to develop their multilingual writing proficiencies had turned out to be disorienting. As we proceeded to discuss these charged narratives, we gradually realized that this genre of writing was making us vulnerable, transparent, and intimate, crossing the lines of typi­ cal classroom writing. As we became more engaged in writing about our literacy development, we got even more involved in analyzing our struggles and achievements and adopting creative new textual and linguistic forms to represent them. There was something inviting in this genre for all of us. We gradually became more invested in exploring our lives and experiment­ ing with effective ways to represent them. It seemed heartless to ignore the poignant


Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

experiences represented in the narratives, the serious self-reflection and analysis that had gone into exploring them, and the creativity and experimentation involved in writing them. There was a compelling need to bring these stories out. The students and I therefore conceived this book as a labor of love.

Objectives At the end of that semester, we realized that we had to relate to literacy autobiographies (“LA” hereafter) in a different way from other academic genres we were familiar with. Broadly, the LA genre is a narrative about how we become literate in community, academic, and professional discourses. The genre could be personal and yet academic, narrative as well as an argument, literary and analytical. It could be written for a specific community but voice the experiences of diverse, especially marginalized, communities. It could be descriptive of one’s learning experiences but also performative of projected repertoires and voices. One could develop the LA variably depending on one’s purposes and contexts. We started treating it as a liminal genre for these reasons. This was a genre between genres. In fact, it was congenial for representing in-between identities and discourses – i.e., those straddling community, disciplinary, and knowledge boundaries. The literacy autobiography is not new to teaching, research, or scholarship. Though it is called by different names – such as literacy narratives, creative nonfiction, or autoethnog­ raphy – LA is amply represented in scholarly literature in different fields. Writing personal narratives is a popular pedagogical activity in composition classrooms (Hindman, 2003) and teacher development courses ( Johnson & Golombek, 2011). Beyond pedagogical contexts, many professionals and scholars in different fields, such as medicine (Gawande, 2014), economics (McCloskey, 1999), and law (Williams, 1991), are writing their personal stories to explore experiences and knowledge they are unable to represent through their dominant professional genres. For research purposes, LA is attracting interest in many dis­ ciplines for the alternate forms of knowledge it generates, particularly in applied linguistics (Barkhuizen, 2011; Pavlenko, 2007) and composition (Young, 2004), fields close to my scholarly interests. Different methodological approaches have been used to analyze them, ranging from narrative analysis and discourse analysis, to psychoanalysis and cultural stud­ ies (to be reviewed in Chapter 3). I want to focus attention on two issues that are unique to the LAs presented in this book. First, these LAs represent the literacies and identities of writers as situated between communities – that is, positioned as transnational. Since other writers have considered their literacies and identities as bounded by a specific community or adjusting to a new community, their tropes and styles are different. The objectives in language learning and literacy development for such writers are also different from those represented in transna­ tional LAs. It is therefore important to define the term transnational so that we understand the locus of this writing. Since the efforts of 17th-century nation formation, the boundaries of the nation-state have served as the default location for our thinking on community. Though the nationstate accommodates diverse ethnic, racial, and class groups, it provides the outer boundary for society. Given the imposing institutions of the nation-state (i.e., government, police, army, taxation, citizenship), it is understandable that the national border governs per­ haps all facets of our life. Similarly, academic research and inquiry have worked on the



operating assumption of a “methodological nationalism” (Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2002) – i.e., the treatment of the nation-state as the assumed context that frames and con­ textualizes any inquiry. Contemporary developments in globalization have reminded us that our social relations and identification practices transcend the nation-state. Even during earlier periods when the nation-state was treated as all-encompassing, our social practices, relationships, and identifications exceeded its bounds. To capture such spaces that include but also transcend nation-state boundaries, scholars use the term transnational social fields (Faist, Fauser, & Reisenauer, 2013). This is a space, not a place. That is, spaces are virtual, social, constructed, and emergent. A physical place may be bound by the laws and policies of the nation-state. Thus, the term transnational indexes something qualitatively different from multinational. The latter is an enumerative concept of putting many countries together in a relationship. Transnational indexes the liminal spaces beyond the nation-state, where people from many countries relate to each other. We can perceive physical places as host­ ing such transnational relations. To refer to the physical locations where such transnational relations, influences, and practices are played out, I will adopt the term contact zones (Pratt, 1991). The term will help us perceive the classrooms and institutions where the writing of my students in this book happened as a transnational meeting place of diverse cultures and languages. Let us consider the benefits of adopting the transnational space as the location of our writing, teaching, and analysis. The narratives in this book typify the experiences of mil­ lions of migrants in the world today. Increasing numbers of people live outside the coun­ tries where they and/or their families were born (Faist et al., 2013). These include not only those who cross borders willingly for better life prospects but those who move under compulsion due to wars, ethnic hostility, political oppression, climate change, and envi­ ronmental damage. While these people might have relocated, their social and psychologi­ cal affiliations are transnational. For others, periodically or constantly shuttling between borders for work or family life has become a fact of life. Beyond these cases of physical migration, almost everyone experiences the effects of mobility in their everyday life. That is, even if they don’t physically move, they are living with people who are mobile and bring resources and practices from elsewhere to their familiar habitations. Also, they are inun­ dated with translocal resources through media, texts, and technology. These influences lift them out of our physical rootedness and situate them in translocal spaces. Thus, we all inhabit transnational social fields. It is important to consider the challenges for literacy and identity when writers are located within such liminal spaces. The narratives presented and discussed in this book belong to both “native English speakers”1 who are local to the place (i.e., Anglo-American 2 students in US classrooms) and multilinguals (i.e., international, migrant students). Despite these differences in lan­ guage identities and citizenship, all of them brought varying degrees of transnational posi­ tioning in terms of their attitudes, perceptions, relationships, and identities. Many of my international students expected to return to their home countries for teaching (and did so in the case of some Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Saudi Arabian students). Some international students who planned to remain in the US for further studies or work enjoyed affiliations with their home countries and elsewhere and considered diaspora-belonging as their identity (which was similar to my own positioning and affiliations in my role as the teacher of these courses). Some Anglo-American students had visited other countries for studies and teaching and considered mobile professional lives as their future. Others


Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

gradually adopted a transnational perspective in the context of writing and learning with international/multilingual students, in classes that were designed as contact zones. To move to the second feature that is unique about these literacy autobiographies, they are translingual. When we create a space for writing between communities – i.e., a classroom contact zone – the LAs develop diversified textual and linguistic properties. I will provide a theoretical framework in the third chapter to demonstrate how transnationalism and trans­ lingualism influence each other. I demonstrate that mobile writers who negotiate diverse languages and semiotic resources in the composing process, or mesh these resources in the final product, are not doing so for mere embellishment. There is a compelling rhetorical need to adopt this writing practice for communication in transnational social fields. Simply put, these writers realize that in order to satisfactorily resolve their multilingual proficien­ cies, affiliations, and identities in shuttling between locations, they need to construct new textual “homes” that creatively merge grammars and transcend linguistic boundaries. The writers are not satisfied locating themselves within the confines of narrowly circumscribed languages, which are often labeled and territorialized as belonging to one nation-state or the other (such as French or Spanish; or British English or American English). Translingualism, like transnationalism, is not a new practice or experience. This label simply reminds us of practices that have always been there but have been suppressed or hid­ den by traditional definitions of language. Dominant ideologies define languages as sepa­ rate and autonomous, territorialized in specific communities or nation-states, owned by a specific group of people, and stabilized into static grammatical systems (see Canagarajah, 2013 for explanation). Regardless of these language ideologies, which have also consider­ ably shaped citizenship policies and teaching pedagogies in many countries, communica­ tive practice has always involved a negotiation of diverse verbal and semiotic resources. Recent forms of mobility have only brought into greater visibility the limitations of ter­ ritorializing language ideologies and policies. As a corrective, scholars have adopted new terms and constructs to discuss the complexity of language practice. Translingual refers to an orientation to communication and competence that treats words as always in contact with diverse semiotic resources and constantly generating new grammars and meanings out of this synergy. This perspective differs from the traditional view that each language has its own self-sufficient grammar for meaning making. Furthermore, I see verbal resources as one dimension of other such meaning-making symbols, including, color, sound, and objects, which I collectively label “semiotic resources.” Writing can manifest this syn­ ergy between semiotic resources, just as conversation, digital communication, and other interactions do. I adopt the term codemeshing to refer to the hybrid textual products with mixed languages and/or semiotic features that emerge from translingual practice. In other words, translingual is a form of practice, and codemeshing is one of its realizations as textual product. These terms are related but not synonymous. In writing in English, multilin­ guals may read, think, draft, and discuss their writing in multiple languages – though the final product may appear to be in English. In this manner, not all translingual writing practice has to result in ostensibly codemeshed texts. I qualify my statements above with “appear” and “ostensibly” because we often misrecognize codemeshed writing for being monolingual. Dominant ideologies of language purity and standardization make it dif­ ficult to see the diversity within what is labeled as “Standard English” or homogeneous “English.” For me, English is a creolized language that has been appropriating resources from diverse languages from its earliest days of formation (Canagarajah, 2013). The



provenance of borrowed words often becomes salient in specific rhetorical and social con­ texts. As we encounter different forms of social fluidity now, involving spaces of interac­ tion and communication that cut across national or geographical boundaries, all of us live in zones of language contact, sometimes shuttling across languages and developing subtle intuitive and receptive competence that may not find dramatic multilingual manifestation in our writing or speech. Therefore, I consider a translingual disposition available to all of us, though some may consider themselves monolingual in their proficiency. While such transnational and translingual dispositions have been observed before in certain biographical and creative writing, there is a reason why they are becoming more visible now. I now discuss the historical conditions that have created a readiness for writers to represent these discourses and audiences to engage with them. At the same time, there is no claim made in this book that writers will always represent these literacies or read­ ers will be tolerant of them. I will go into the factors that might motivate more people to represent themselves as transnational and adopt translingual practices. Suffice it to say that the transnational LA is becoming so visible that some scholars have called for more research attention and pedagogical focus going forward (see Sharma, 2015).

The scene A quick reminder, therefore, is needed of the historical moment and rhetorical context. Recent forms of globalization have created conditions of greater visibility and urgency for transnational relations. Mobility (of people, texts, languages, knowledge, and mate­ rial resources, among others) has reminded us that our lives extend beyond our national borders. In fact, we now have a keener appreciation of our fates being bound with people from beyond our own localities. Some scholars argue that new forms of technology have engendered a different experience of transnationalism from what might have been expe­ rienced before the role of the Internet (see Blommaert, 2015 for this argument). Others have argued about time/space compression (Harvey, 2005) as a hallmark of postmodern and neoliberal dispensations. Though there are certainly new technological and mate­ rial conditions contributing to a narrowing of distance and boundaries, I don’t consider transnationalism new in human life. We have always had a sense of being interconnected with others beyond our localities and experienced relationships and practices shaped by these ties. What is perhaps new are the discourses relating to these changes. In opposition to modernist discourses of territorialization, we now have theories that address transna­ tionalism. Though we have to be cautious, some scholars consider mobility a new para­ digm that critiques many traditional scholarly constructs and assumptions (Urry, 2000). Similarly, in literacy and linguistics, scholars are reexamining models that are static, territorialized, and ownership-based to consider the mobility of languages and texts, leading to new considerations on the strategies of production, circulation, and reception in communication. As I have reviewed elsewhere, translingual practice (Canagarajah, 2013) is one such theorization. Emerging scholarly constructs help us revisit both the past as well as the present in insightful ways. While Pavlenko (2019) has critiqued the proliferation of new scholarly labels, treating them as constructed for narrow academic fame and profit, I hold that these constructs can help us address language practices and identities that have been ignored under the dominance of territorializing ideologies and scholarship in the past.


Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

Since these experiences and practices are not new, it is not surprising that we have had some exemplary LAs that have approximated the tropes and literacies I foreground in this book. Let me distinguish the transnational/liminal trope from other migrant and multi­ cultural literacy narratives in past publications. Rodriguez (1982) has narrated his efforts to learn English and move to the American mainstream, away from his Mexican heritage in his Hunger of Memory. His trajectory was linear, with the objective of acquiring the dominant identities and literacies of the mainstream (not without some concern about the losses of non-dominate identities), confirming the nation-state framing of his narrative. Others have represented more hybrid and resistant identities [as in Villaneuva (1993), Shen (1989), Young (2004), and Min-zhan Lu (1987)]. Though they are more open to the multiple languages and identities involved in transnational crossing, they too eventually frame their trajectory in relation to their positioning in the US, the nation-state. Hoffman’s (1989) Lost in Transla­ tion is a rare narrative that explores the liminality of transnational identity and represents the dominant trope of “subject-in-process” – that is, an identity of progressive and ongoing selfmaking (Kramsch, 2009, p. 98). As discourses and social changes focus on transnational life and liminality, we are beginning to see more narratives on cosmopolitan and in-between identities. This trope is not automatic to all writers. While some migrant writers mentioned above adopted tropes shaped by the nation-state, even non-migrants might represent trans­ national tropes given one’s positioning. Much depends on the contexts and objectives of writing. I will discuss the contexts that shaped these LAs in the next chapter. Similarly, while LA writers have always been creative in their craft and experimented with languages, few studies have analyzed codemeshing. Perhaps those writers who did codemesh are not represented well in the scholarly literature, as the dominant monolingual ideologies in schools and society have treated these texts as unintelligible or unappealing. Some excellent translingual narratives were ignored or suppressed for being idiosyncratic in the past. Consider the Peruvian Indian Guaman Poma de Ayala’s (1613/2009) 17th­ century narrative of the Inca civilization addressed to the King of Spain. His codemeshed text was not understood for centuries in Europe. The codemeshing of those like Anzaldúa (1987) also evokes mixed reception, with some praising its creativity and others consider­ ing it as esoteric – see for a review Hsu, 2016). It is significant that Anzaldúa also positions herself in geographical borders, suggesting the need for her to navigate diverse language repertoires for representing her voice. Other recent composition scholars, such as Vil­ laneuva (2011), have been linguistically experimental and mixed language repertoires. However, in past readings, their texts have been discussed in general terms of rhetorical hybridity. Their translingual potential was not fully appreciated, partly because language contact had not been theorized in more complex ways. Another example is Kramsch’s (2009) analysis of her students’ LAs in her university. Though many of these students posi­ tion themselves between nation-state boundaries and represent their liminal identities with meshed languages, Kramsch refers to the practice as codeswitching. The latter term has tradi­ tionally adopted a binary way of looking at languages – i.e., alternating between language A and language B, invoking the meanings each language comes with. Codemeshing and translingualism go beyond language boundaries, binaries, and hierarchies to consider how diverse semiotic resources (beyond labeled languages) find creative realization. As we talk about language contact in more creative ways and generate more awareness of alternate language ideologies and practices, the new constructs bring into focus more successful authors adopting more radical strategies. Scholars and teachers are also treating writing in this mode as deserving serious attention.



This book I have conceived this book as a hybrid product, inspired in many ways by the liminal genre of LA treated within its pages. This book is itself a literacy autobiography, in addition to being a research report, a pedagogical guide, and an anthology. I introduce these compo­ nents separately here, before inter-weaving them in the pages to follow.

1. My literacy autobiography In some ways, this book contains stories within a story. While I analyze and narrate the stories of my students, I also tell my own story of developing as a writer. As I will demon­ strate in the next chapter, I hadn’t progressed to the possibility of actively drawing from my language repertoires to codemesh in my own writing before these classroom experiences. Participating in the development of my students and engaging in their craft helped me discover the textual strategies and attitudinal dispositions that make translingual writing possible. Therefore, I have decided to write the greater part of this book as a narrative in the first person to demonstrate my own learning process and literacy development. I have also experimented with accommodating the codemeshing that I have learned from my students. Of course, merging textual analyses and theoretical discourses with the personal narrative can be challenging. The book is thus performative: It seeks from its readers the same strategies of reading and interpretation my students and I adopted in our classes to negotiate translingual writing. My LA explains how I have developed into my current rhetorical and linguistic preferences. I can understand why some migrant/multilingual students and scholars may desire to meet the expectations of the dominant/host community and conform to its language/literacy norms. I have myself experienced the pressure to adopt a safe and pragmatic approach at different points in my writing development. However, there are many who have opted for a risky and resistant approach. I now value the voice that emerges from positioning myself between, against, and beyond dominant writing norms. I have gradually evolved to value the critical positioning emerging from my linguistic and cultural in-betweenness. I appreciate the strengths of the otherwise painful experience of exile (as articulated by Said, 1999, himself an exile who has represented his creative migrant status in his own autobiography). Similarly, I have opted to draw from the semiotic resources I shuttle between in my life to construct liminal texts and identities as my ongoing practice. These preferences have to do considerably with my experience of growing up in South Asia, where translingualism and diversity are treated as everyday experiences, with a long tradition of rich discourses valuing them. However, I am not so idealistic as to totally disregard established norms in specific contexts. I consider it necessary to negotiate my rhetorical and linguistic preferences in relation to the dominant norms strategically. Scholars and teachers have different expectations as to what is empowering for multilingual/migrant writers. These preferences have to be understood in relation to people’s social positions and ideological dispositions. For example, Cadman (2014) has criticized my position of codemeshing as not going far enough in resisting dominant norms. She argues that representing one’s voice in relation to established norms leads to compromising one’s values. She would prefer a more resistant position of representing marginalized voices without accommodating to established conventions. On the other hand, Ryuko Kubota (2014; Hartse-Henge & Kubota, 2014) considers codemeshing as too

10 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

extreme and idealistic. She considers high-stakes writing as still controlled by monolingual and monolithic norms and prefers to advocate for policy changes in institutions before encouraging writers to codemesh. These reservations are motivated by valid considerations. However, there are differences in attitudes and tactics between us. I prefer gradual changes from within existing established norms. Rather than repeat a critique of alternate positions or provide more arguments on behalf of my position of codemeshing (which I have already done in Canagarajah, 2006), I prefer to let the reader be the judge in relation to my embodied practice in the narratives that follow. My position has to do with my social experiences, such as struggling for voice and identity as a member of a minority community in my own country of Sri Lanka, encountering micro-racism during my entry into the US as a graduate student, and experiencing solidarity with the causes and experiences of those who have been marginalized in underdeveloped communities. People from the same minority/ migrant context may choose to adopt different rhetorical approaches. It is a combination of their dispositions, social positions, and material relations that may explain the different directions they take. It is not impossible for these competing rhetorical approaches to work together as they suit the dispositions and investments of different writers. I will illustrate in Chapter 3 the dispositions that motivate my students and me to write codemeshed texts.

2. My teacher development narrative This book is my story of how I am continuing to develop as a teacher of literacy. Narratives of teacher development are treated as a separate genre in education (see Barkhuizen, 2011; Johnson & Golombek, 2011). In fact, the LAs in this book emerge from student-teachers of writing in courses established for teacher development. As I tell the story of my students reflecting on their development as literacy teachers, I am embedding that narrative within my own development as a teacher. Both my story and those of my students constitute reflections on what our writing development and practice imply for teaching. In this way, LAs and teacher development narratives are connected to each other, especially in the con­ text of this course. In fact, students in writing courses have carried with them the lessons they learned to their own teaching of writing – as reported by Young, 2004, for example, from a writing course he taught for undergraduates. The teacher development narrative has value both for myself and for other teachers. It helps me understand why I do what I do as a teacher. In helping other teachers also under­ stand the rationale for my pedagogical practice, I can perhaps contribute to their own teaching. Once again, my pedagogy has to be situated in my backgrounds and interests. As scholars in teacher development have observed, the professional practices teachers adopt evolve out of ongoing negotiations of their own beliefs, classroom practices, and diverse social participants (such as students and colleagues) – see Johnson, 2009. In this sense, the teaching approaches we adopt are explained largely by our personal trajectories of social and educational experiences. It is understandable that other teachers of multilingual stu­ dents may not sympathize with the practices I adopt for multilingual writing. They have offered well-intentioned criticism. My preference for teaching students to translanguage in their writing practice and to codemesh in their written products has been considered an “exotic” imposition into multilingual written instruction (Matsuda, 2014, p. 478) or “irresponsible” (Ruecker, 2014, p. 116) as it presumably ignores the needs of multilin­ gual students for the basics of normative grammar. Based on my experiences and disposi­ tions, I adopt the positions that it is beneficial for multilingual students to renegotiate the



dominant language norms for voice, that students are capable of undertaking such creative writing, and that translanguaging is socially empowering to students. Understanding my pedagogical preferences and practices in my own learning contexts as a transnational, who constantly struggles with reconciling different languages and rhetorics, might help explain the different paths I take. Through this narrative, other teachers have the opportunity to situate my embodied pedagogical practices and assess the outcomes in context.

3. A pedagogy As the space we inhabit for the emergence of different tropes, literacies, and discourses is a critical consideration, I narrate the learning environment I constructed to enable this writing. In this sense, this book becomes a pedagogical resource for teachers. Critics have argued that such approaches as translingualism and codemeshing are merely theoretical and not suitable for implementing in classrooms (Matsuda, 2014). Others have mentioned that they don’t find well-developed pedagogical practices available for such writing (Ferris, 2014; Gevers, 2018). In more generous versions of this criticism, it has been mentioned that such hybridity and codemeshing happens in spontaneous and informal everyday practice but cannot be modeled or taught formally (see for a discussion of this criticism, Canagarajah, 2009). Though we can­ not provide a “one size fits all” pedagogy (and it is desirable that students respond differently so that we continue to learn from their complex and variable approaches), it is possible to dem­ onstrate the practices teachers can adopt to facilitate transnational literacies. In this sense, this book provides my version of the “how to” for teaching transnational and translingual literacies. Providing the context in which these narratives were generated is additionally of meth­ odological importance. What we learn from researchers and theorists of narratives is that even personal narratives should be analyzed situationally (Barkhuizen, 2011). The ques­ tions that motivated the stories, the other texts that shaped them, the literacy sponsors and brokers who contributed to them, and the material conditions that constrained or enabled them need to be considered in any narrative research. There is no writing or “storying” within a social vacuum. Narratives don’t emerge from the isolated mind of the writer. Identities, voices, and texts are socially and materially shaped, suggesting the constraints and affordances of the environment. For that purpose, I bring out the features of my class­ rooms and teaching contexts, including the readings, peer commentary, teacher feedback, and institutional policies that writers navigated in different ways to produce these texts.

4. A reader I present chosen LAs from my students in the second section of this book to serve as readings on transnational and translingual writing. I hope that teachers might use these LAs in their classes to pursue their own pedagogical agendas. They can treat them as texts for analysis in ways different from my own research analysis in this book. The essays can be analyzed for their diverse meanings and effectiveness. Though these texts emerge from revisions ben­ efitting from peer and instructor feedback, we have to respect the decisions of the writers to construct the final products according to their own interests. All writing is risky – with mixed outcomes. It is in that spirit that these LAs are presented. They are offered not as models of perfection but as bold experiments. The names of the writers are presented with their permission. When students whose essays are not presented in this book are referred to in my analysis, they are anonymized, in keeping with their preferences.

12 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

Publishing these student essays in full serves other purposes. Hitherto, teachers have treated the narratives of professional writers as their pedagogical models. Courses that adopt literacy narratives as an activity focus on the writing of established creative writ­ ers (such as Anzaldua, 1987), public intellectuals (Rodriguez, 1982), or scholars (Gilyard, 1991). In adopting them, teachers might unwittingly give the impression to students that such resistant writing is possible only for those with credentials. It is commonly assumed that only those who have already established themselves as writers or scholars can engage in experimental practices, such as codemeshed and translingual writing. Multilingual stu­ dents will feel empowered to see the writing of their own peers published and discussed. In reading these LAs, students will realize that all writers can codemesh in diverse ways to suit their purposes and contexts. Including these LAs in this book answers an ongoing need of many of my teaching colleagues for relevant models of translanguaging. Even the established writers we use in our classes, such as Richard Rodriguez, don’t codemesh in a pronounced way. The LAs in this book provide examples of writing that have been actually achieved by students in classrooms, offering a wider range of models beyond the established authors teachers know. Presenting the complete LAs also rectifies another limitation relating to the analysis of LAs in research reports from classrooms and pedagogical contexts. Researchers have typically provided excerpts of student narratives to illustrate their analysis. In doing so, we unwittingly appropriate these narratives for our research purposes and perhaps reshape student voices according to our analytical frameworks. The complete texts will help read­ ers see these narratives in their fuller context and appreciate the writers’ craft. We can also help students develop the view that they are writers themselves, not novices learning the craft or subjects in a research study. They will see themselves as capable of the selffashioning, textual craft, and linguistic experimentation in this genre that established writ­ ers demonstrate. Since I offer a selective reading of these narratives in this book, attaching the complete essays will foreseeably help readers develop other relevant interpretive and pedagogical orientations.

5. A research report In the vein of practitioner research, I have analyzed closely the strategies adopted by my students to craft their translingual texts. The analysis is restricted to what I perceive is the new foci in this genre of writing, research, and pedagogy. I explore the connection between the transnational positioning of the writers and their translingual writing (as announced in the title of the book). I focus on the ways in which writers draw from polysemiotic resources for crafting their texts. This is an attempt to learn about translingual writing from practice, in the fashion of grounded theory (Clarke, 2005). Since this genre of writing is under researched, the best strategy is to start from ground up and analyze how practicing writers accomplish this activity. In addition to understanding the strategies adopted in translingual writing, I also illustrate the dispositions that motivate and evolve from these texts. I situate the language of these texts in broader contexts of socialization to explain the factors shaping it. While the focus on reading and writing codemeshed texts is badly needed, the analysis also fills another gap in the study of literacy narratives. Hitherto, scholars have analyzed these texts largely in terms of literacy and cultural tropes (see Alexander, 2011 for a recent review in composition scholarship). Even in the field of applied linguistics, which would



be expected to demonstrate more interest in language-related issues, textual analyses have focused on broader concerns, such as discourse markers of identity, positioning, or narrative structures (see Pavlenko, 2007 for a review). My analysis takes a closer look at language, to consider its place in the identities represented, explored, or performed. I present my research methodology and analytical tools in Chapter 2. In my findings, I demonstrate the use of diverse multilingual and semiotic resources for voice, the strategies for encoding them, and the practices of reading and interpretation for making sense of them. With these concerns in mind, I have coded the student LAs. I situate this coding in the fuller ethnographic context of classroom interactions and writing processes. Thus, I demonstrate the shaping of these texts by diverse scales of social interactions and learning/writing ecologies. The purpose of this book is not to make all students write the same way or to make all teachers adopt my pedagogy. The focus is not solely on the texts produced in my classes. It is more on the processes and strategies adopted in writing and teaching. The translingual orientation is practice-based. It encourages modes of engaging with language repertoires and social diversity to construct strategic identities, social positions, voices, and texts as relevant to each person’s interests. The writing and learning practices may engender a wide range of textual products and voice representations. Since writing and rhetorical outcomes are situated, it is difficult to measure one’s approach against a uniform standard of effectiveness. For those who are interested in engaging with linguistic diversity and consider developing translingual literacies as a worthy pedagogical goal, this book provides an example to consider. There is still some unease about using imaginative genres for scholarly and pedagogical purposes in education. I will address the serious educational and intellectual motivations for using LAs in classrooms in the pages to follow. Before I conclude this introduction, let me affirm that the synergy between imagination, knowledge, and literacy is given considerable significance in the community of my formative education. Since childhood, I have been fascinated that the words for imagination and education sound similar in Tamil. kaRpanai (கற்பனை ) means imagination; kaRal (கற்றல் ) means learning; and kaRpittal (கற் பி த்தல் ) means teaching. The similarity impressed upon me that these words interweave the processes of imagination, learning, and teaching. The activities are integrated, not treated as separated as in some Western/modernist educational systems. The invitation in this book is to experience and explore an imaginative form of writing and learning that addresses the social, educational, and rhetorical challenges for all of us in the context of intensified mobility.

Notes 1 I am using “native speaker” within quotes because this concept has been debunked. No one is a speaker of only one language or grows up without exposure to other languages. Similarly, terms like L1 and L2 don’t have meaning when people grow up with multiple languages at the same time. How­ ever, since past scholarship and institutionalized writing programs make this distinction, I use these terms in this book. It will be clear from the book that I see the capacity for translingual practice in all of us, varying in degree according to our exposure and practice. 2 I refer to Anglo-American students separately among the native English speakers, as “Americans” cannot be always generalized to be native speakers of English.There are non-native English speakers who are “American.” Furthermore, Asian and Hispanic American students usually claim other herit­ age languages, when Anglo Americans identify themselves as monolingual in English.

14 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

References Alexander, K. P. (2011). Successes, victims, and prodigies:“Master” and “little” cultural narratives in the literacy narrative genre. College Composition and Communication, 62(4), 608–633. Anzaldúa, G. (1987). Borderlands/La Frontera. San Francisco:Aunt Lute Books. Barkhuizen, G. (2011). Narrative knowledging in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 45(3), 391–414. Blommaert, J. (2015). Commentary: Superdiversity old and new. Language and Communication, 44(1), 82–89. Cadman, K. (2014). Of house and home: Reflections on knowing and writing for a “southern” post­ graduate pedagogy. In L.Thesen & L. Cooper (Eds.), Risks in academic writing (pp. 166–202). Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Canagarajah,A. S. (2006).The place of World Englishes in composition: Pluralization continued. College Composition and Communication, 57, 586–619. Canagarajah, A. S. (2009). The plurilingual tradition and the English language in South Asia. AILA Review, 22, 5–22. Canagarajah, A. S. (2013). Translingual practice: Global Englishes and cosmopolitan relations. Abingdon: Routledge. Clarke, A. E. (2005). Situational analysis: Grounded theory after the postmodern turn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. De Ayala, G. P. (1613–2009). The first new chronicle and good government (R. Hamilton, Trans and Ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press. Faist,T., Fauser, M., & Reisenauer, E. (2013). Transnational migration. Cambridge: Polity. Ferris, D. (2014). Review:‘English Only’ and multilingualism in composition studies: Policy, philosophy, and practice. College English, 77(1), 73–83. Gawande, A. (2014). Being mortal. New York: Metropolitan Books. Gevers, J. (2018).Translingualism revisited. Journal of Second Language Writing, 40, 73–83. Gilyard, K. (1991). Voices of the self:A study of language competence. Detroit:Wayne State University Press. Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Heng Hartse, J., & Kubota, R. (2014). Pluralizing English? Variation in high-stakes academic writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 24, 71–82. Hindman, J. (2003). Thoughts on reading “the personal”: Towards a discursive ethics of professional critical literacy. College English, 66(1), 9–20. Hoffman, E. (1989). Lost in translation. New York: Penguin Books. Hsu, J. (2016). Dynamic disclosures: Personal writing, relational rhetoric, and institutional narratives (PhD dissertation), Submitted to Pennsylvania State University. Johnson, K. (2009). Second language teacher education:A sociocultural perspective. New York, NY: Routledge. Johnson, K., & Golombek, P. (2011).The transformative power of narrative in second language teacher education. TESOL Quarterly, 45(3), 486–509. Kramsch, C. (2009). The multilingual subject. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kubota, R. (2014).The multi/plural turn, postcolonial theory, and neoliberal multiculturalism. Applied Linguistics, 37, 474–494. Lu, M-Z. (1987). From silence to words:Writing as struggle. College English, 49, 437–448. Matsuda, P. K. (2014).The lure of translingual writing. PMLA, 129(3), 478–483. McCloskey, D. (1999). Crossing: A memoir. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pavlenko, A. (2007). Autographic narratives as data in applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 28(2), 163–188. Pavlenko, A. (2019). Superdiversity and why it isn’t: Reflections on terminological innovation and academic branding. In Sloganizations in language education discourse. Pratt, M. L. (1991).Arts of the contact zone. Profession, 91, 33–40. Rodriguez, R. (1982). Hunger of memory. New York: Bantam and Turner Books. Ruecker,T. (2014). Here they do this, there they do that. College Composition and Communication, 66(1), 91–119.



Said, E. (1999). Out of place:A memoir. New York: Random House. Sharma, G. (2015). Cultural schemas and pedagogical uses of literacy narratives: A reflection on my journey with reading and writing. College Composition and Communication, 66, 459–466. Shen, F. (1989).The classroom and the wider culture: Identity as a key to learning English composition. College Composition and Communication, 67(1), 104–110. Urry, J. (2000). Sociology beyond societies: Mobilities for the twenty-first century. London: Routledge. Villaneuva,V. (1993). Bootstraps: From an American academic of color. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English. Villaneuva,V. (2011). Reflections on style and the love of language. College Composition and Communica­ tion, 62(4), 726–738. Williams, P. (1991). The alchemy of race and rights: Diary of a law professor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Wimmer, A., & Glick Schiller, N. (2002). Methodological nationalism and beyond: Nation-state build­ ing, migration, and the social sciences. Global Networks, 2(4), 301–334. Young, M. (2004). Minor re/visions:Asian American literacy narratives as a rhetoric of citizenship. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.


When I moved to USA for my graduate studies, many of my sources of cultural shock pertained to text construction. In the very first essay I wrote on my first semester at Bowling Green State University – an appreciation of a poem by Randall Jarrel – I found the instructor’s red pen used a bit too much for my liking. He wanted to know why I didn’t have two spaces after my period, a single space after my commas, and five spaces at the beginning of my paragraphs. He wanted to know why the first sentence of my paragraph announced one thing while the rest of the paragraph went on to talk about different matters. He underlined my occasional typographical mistakes and called them spelling errors (I was new to typing: all my essays in Sri Lankan schools and universities had been handwritten as type writers and computers are hard to come by). He also called my occasional Sri Lankan idioms as grammatical or syntactical errors. His B‒ was by now not surprising to me. I knew that he had gone totally out of his mind. With much exasperation I asked him, “Don’t you have anything to say about the original ideas I was developing in this essay? Did you only look at these insignificant mechanics of my paper to give me that grade?” I was of course expressing the bias of my community that content is more important than production format. He blurted out something like, “But these things are important.” What struck me as peculiar about his approach was the heightened sensitivity to the materiality of the text – i.e., the physical representation of what I was trying to communicate. It was shocking to learn that there were such numerous detailed rules and conventions relating to the encoding of ideas on the page. [. . .] Such experiences have taught me many things: that the conventions governing academic discourse are partisan; that the judgments on the acceptability of feelings/affect and other matters of tone or style are considerably subjective, differing according to the culture of the various scholarly communities; that matters of style can be ideological with different prospects for highlighting or suppressing a critical perspective. I have been emboldened by these experiences to now reconsider my literacy development. Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone to such lengths to suppress my feelings and ethos in my early journal articles. My writing strategy has been to write myself out of my texts. Thus my entry into the respect­ able center journals may have been earned at the cost of my subjectivity. On the other hand, I realize that I have always encoded feelings and personal modes of argumentation quite unwittingly, even when I focused on satisfying primarily the dominant modes of academic communication. I now consider ways in which I should infuse my vernacular rhetorical strengths into the academic discourse more consciously

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and confidently. I also feel more comfortable about attempting new forms of coherence in my writing that incorporate different voices and discourses. The current critique of texts and discourses defined in univocal and homogeneous terms has also given me confidence to construct multivocal, heteroglossic texts that show an active negotiation of the academic conventions from the basis of my vernacular oral rhetorical strengths. I am now constantly trying out ways of reconciling the competing discourses in a manner that is more satisfying to both my politics and poetics. (Canagarajah, 2001, pp. 28–29, 35–36) What I have excerpted above is from my first ever LA. I have presented a paragraph on my first encounter with American writing instruction and the concluding paragraph on the lessons learned. I wrote this LA on the invitation of two colleagues who edited a book on the writing experiences of multilingual scholars in diverse disciplines (see Belcher & Con­ nor, 2001). The contributing authors were given the following general prompt to compose their essay: A literacy autobiography is an account of significant factors and events that have contributed to your development as a reader or writer. In writing this autobiography, you will explore in some depth the origins of some of your attitudes and theories about reading and writing as well as your reading and writing practices. (Connor, 1999, p. 41) I traced my literacy development from my early education in Sri Lanka, then graduate studies in the US, back home to teach and publish as a faculty member in Sri Lanka, and then returning to the US as I fled the civil war in Sri Lanka. In the paragraphs preceding the conclusion, I discuss how I tried to conform to what appeared as more linear and objec­ tive writing styles expected by my American instructors in graduate school. However, I couldn’t fully suppress my preferred identities and styles. My American instructors always detected and queried them. Therefore, I resolved to explore a translingual writing that negotiated the “the academic conventions from the basis of my vernacular oral rhetorical strengths.” The writing of this LA set me off on a search for new modes of writing and representing my voice. I have persisted in that experimentation and search ever since then. I continue it in this book. Writing of that LA was fortunate. It clarified for me my rhetorical challenges and options from my school days and graduate education to my early years as a faculty member. Since the LA was not a genre adopted in schools in Sri Lanka, I had not had the opportunity to write it or engage in such self-reflection much earlier in my education. As I wrote about my shuttling between different communities and contexts in my academic trajectory, I gradu­ ally situated myself in a transnational social field, beyond my Sri Lankan childhood and professionalization in United States. This positioning provided me a strategic space to reflect on my literacy challenges. I could detach myself from the shame and pain of being considered unproficient at both home and abroad as I acquired different communicative styles. The writing became more reflexive. I developed certain dispositions suitable for my ongoing writing development. As the conclusion suggests, I am more respectful of my ver­ nacular resources, more rooted in my traditions, more resistant of rhetorical impositions, and more open to negotiating with dominant norms critically and creatively. These dispo­ sitions and awarenesses are the realizations I could leave for the reader in the conclusion.

18 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

What is it about the LA that facilitated these dispositions? I can illustrate the func­ tions of the LA through the stages of identity development Johnson and Golombek (2011) identify. They treat narrative as a mediational tool to develop teacher identity, adopting the Vygotskyan model of activity theory. They discuss the functions of this writing in terms of the tripartite stages of externalization, verbalization, and systematic examina­ tion. The processes involved in narrating one’s experiences motivate writers to recover and externalize memories and feelings that might be forgotten, ignored, or suppressed. In verbalizing these thoughts and experiences, the writers give them form and order. This is no simple feat, as the textual form is a way of making sense of one’s experiences, fashion­ ing a life trajectory, and developing a perspective. The emerging text (whether spoken or written) can help conduct a critical analysis of one’s experiences. However, systematic examination is not necessarily a separate stage, disconnected from the other two stages. Externalization and verbalization of our experiences are already shaped by our ongoing examination. While giving form to our experience, we might recover other suppressed or forgotten experiences, motivated by the emerging trajectory. The shape of the narrative is already mediated by our analysis and the emerging lessons of our story. Externalization and verbalization also generate critical interpretations of our life, facilitating a complex reflexivity and self-awareness motivating further examination. The lessons and objectives emerging from our examination could reshape the earlier texts of verbalization, leading to an alternate narrative with a different trajectory. The reflexivity might make us reconsider and reconstruct our identities. Note, however, that the narrative is a mediational tool for specific objectives. The reflections and identities constructed will differ according to the objectives motivating the narrative. In my case, the processes of brainstorming and outlining this LA in response to the prompts given by the editors helped me draw from the deepest areas of my experience. As I will discuss later, other more detailed and expansive procedures might be adopted to externalize the experiences of students. Creative and sensitive strategies might be needed for some transnational writers. Migrant students have good reasons to suppress many of their experiences. For example, some will feel uncomfortable about discussing their undocumented entry into a country in this age of heightened surveillance. Others may have painful experiences of dislocation and acculturation that they might avoid discussing. Often, migrants experience violence in their home country or prejudice in the host com­ munity that they might have difficulty narrating. In retrospect, I realize that my LA quoted above failed to narrate the traumatic experiences of fleeing war-torn Sri Lanka with few belongings or working for an eventually censored newspaper that publicized human-rights violations. The editors’ prompts to externalize my memories were useful to me for many reasons. Since composition was not a communicative activity that was taught when I was a student in Sri Lanka, I wasn’t practiced in verbalizing my personal experiences. Williams (2003) and Sharma (2015) note that LAs (as written in American educational institutions) are a strange and, sometimes, uncomfortable genre for many international students, requiring sensitive prodding. The process of externalization was considerably shaped by a compara­ tive analysis of my knowledge and experience in the US where composition was a distinct pedagogical activity. I compared my early experiences in Sri Lanka in relation to the writ­ ing and pedagogical practices in the US. This externalization also enabled me to verbal­ ize and analyze embarrassing experiences in American educational institutions where my

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English language and writing practices were sometimes considered deficient and stigma­ tized. There were other painful and embarrassing experiences of adjusting to educational and academic cultures in the US that I managed to externalize for this LA. The verbalization of my literacy experience took an unusual textual structure. Rather than being linear – i.e., from novice academic writing in less advanced Sri Lanka to greater competence in the US – my plotline was jagged. It involved shuttling between Sri Lanka and the US, with changing styles and conflicting reception of my writing. After master­ ing what I considered privileged language and literacy norms in the US, I found them disdained by my colleagues and students in Sri Lanka, where they were influenced by different rhetorical preferences. Returning to US again to flee the ethnic violence in Sri Lanka, I was confronted with a new round of learning, as I struggled to merge the compet­ ing rhetorical and linguistic repertoires that emerged from my mobility. Once this overall structure of shuttling became visible, I dug into my experiences in each location more deeply to discover other episodes that generated further comparisons for my LA. The con­ flicts posed by divergent language and literacy practices in each location served as subplots. Thus, verbalization motivated further externalization. The emerging plot structure helped me flesh out the content. That my narrative is shaped by my verbalization and examination of academic litera­ cies in different geographical locations makes my story selective. I didn’t remember or narrate certain experiences, such as my experiences of publishing poetry on the conflict in Sri Lanka or writing for the regional English language weekly there. They didn’t fit the structure I was adopting for this academic LA. There are other experiences relevant to my literacy development that I didn’t include – such as my teaching practice or writ­ ing research. Such details could lead to different stories, demanding externalization and verbalization motivated by other rhetorical objectives. One’s life experiences can thus lead to very different narratives on different themes. I have gone on to write other narratives that span similar locations and mobile trajectories but focused on my teacher development (Canagarajah, 2012a) and disciplinary acculturation (Canagarajah, 2016a). Let’s now consider the third function of LA: examination. The fact that I didn’t achieve a conclusive ending for my trajectory, with clearly formulated lessons for writing success, might give the impression that my examination was not rigorous or systematic. Despite the ending lacking closure, the examination outcomes are represented more subtly. The com­ parison/contrast format in the verbalization of my literacy experiences already constitutes an analysis. In playing off one rhetoric against another, or one community’s norms against the other’s, I am setting up the framework for my examination. This structure results from my analysis of what I consider the main tensions or challenges in my writing trajectory. The comparison structure generates many differences and similarities in the conflicting rhetorical traditions and writing practices I traversed in my educational and professional life. This examination and verbalization made me probe my experiences further to exter­ nalize and represent them effectively in my LA. In this sense, the analysis of my experi­ ences went hand in hand with the other two processes of verbalization and externalization. A moral does emerge in the end of the narrative. I achieved clarity about the rela­ tive potential of competing rhetorical traditions, my own strengths and limitations, and a more rewarding and satisfactory writing/learning trajectory for the future. I conclude with a vision of what I hope to achieve and how I need to proceed as my writing practice evolves. There are many useful insights into the different writing pedagogies and rhetorical

20 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

practices in my different locales of mobility. I see the strengths and limitations of each rhe­ torical tradition or literacy orientation as I view it from the angle and experiences of the other. I even achieve a meta-rhetorical orientation by understanding writing’s connection to issues of power and diversity. I realize the interconnections of rhetorical preferences, cultural practices, and social conditions. Thus, the composing of this LA enabled me to move beyond writing experiences and written products to make insights into deeper issues of their social, cultural, and ideological shaping. Furthermore, my examination developed in me certain awarenesses and dispositions suitable for writing and identity development in the future. These are emotional and atti­ tudinal outcomes from the LA. I resolve the tensions I face between competing writing traditions and chart a bold way forward for my future practice. I developed a great deal of self-awareness by understanding the limitations of some of the strategies I had adopted in the past. I developed the confidence to bring in my own vernacular resources and experiment more energetically in my writing. One might say that I had developed a more resistant and critical disposition at the end of my LA, open to appropriating competing discourses creatively for my own voice, rooted in my preferred cultural and linguistic traditions. These awarenesses and dispositions amount to constructing a new identity for myself. The process of writing this LA has helped me construct perspectives and disposi­ tions that didn’t exist for me before. More importantly, this very LA is an embodiment of my new realizations on writ­ ing. I adopt a confident personal voice and expressive rhetoric in this text. Thus, I am accomplishing a discursively hybrid product that merges the personal voice, narrative, and analysis to a greater degree than is typical in academic essays or was possible for me prior to this writing. This is the performative dimension of LAs. As writers externalize, verbalize, and analyze their experiences, they are often motivated to practice their new realizations in that very writing. From this perspective, the narrative is not only a mediational resource for learning and identity development. The LA embodies the new realizations and identi­ ties it made possible. In other words, the writing is not only an instrument for identity construction; it is itself that identity being constructed. From this perspective, we have to add this performative dimension of narratives and LA writing to the three functions outlined by Johnson and Golombek. The LA is performative in multiple senses. The text itself can embody the lessons one learned and the answers projected for one’s future development. Additionally, part of performativity is what the story/text does to the writer. It develops new dispositions, awarenesses, and realizations that provide the writer a different identity and rhetoric. Therefore, I like to add representation to the other three functions of externalization, verbalization, and examination.

Distinguishing the genre My entry into this genre was through the prompt for the LA quoted at the beginning. The prompt defined the genre as a written version of one’s own attitudes and trajecto­ ries of learning or practicing literacy. However, other scholars have defined the LA in more thematically focused and ideologically critical ways. In some cases, the fluidity and diversity in the realization of the genre has generated some debates and contro­ versies among scholars on how to define the LA. The personal and narrative have been

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meshed in different fields and communities for different objectives. I will now discuss the diverse realizations and definitions of this genre in order to develop a more com­ plex orientation to LA. Perhaps the genre most closely related to LA is the literacy narrative (LN). Though LN also narrates literacy development, the distinction is that LA is written in the firstperson voice about oneself. LNs can be written in the third-person voice, in biographical or fictional accounts about others. In one of the earliest definitions of LN, Eldred and Mortenson (1992) treated LN as a genre that can help scholars analyze fictional works for their language and literacy learning implications. They treated Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion as an illustrative case to offer an LN-based reading. In their attempt to distinguish the LN, Eldred and Mortenson compared it to autoethnographies (under the broader category of “literature of the contact zones”) and narratives of socialization. Their definitions are worth quoting in full for a close examination: •

Narratives of socialization are stories that chronicle a character’s attempt to enter a new social (and discursive) arena. Many texts, especially coming-of-age stories that show characters negotiating the world around them, often contain detailed and insightful investigations of how language is acquired and how it creates particular regional and private identities. In these narratives, literacy is a necessary component, although it is not emphasized (see Eldred). Literature of the contact zone is that fiction authored in colonial contexts or out of colonial histories. It studies the particular problems of forcing a sanctioned literacy on colonized subjects and examines, among other things, the role of “autoethnography” in resisting legislated representations (see Pratt). Finally, what we call literacy narratives are those stories, like Bernard Shaw’s Pygmal­ ion, that foreground issues of language acquisition and literacy. These narratives are structured by learned, internalized “literacy tropes” (Brodkey 47), by “pre-figured” ideas and images (see White 1–23). Literacy narratives sometimes include explicit images of schooling and teaching; they include texts that both challenge and affirm culturally scripted ideas about literacy (Eldred & Mortenson, 1992, p. 513).

It is clear that the authors are thinking of creative literature in these definitions (i.e., note terms such as “characters,” “fiction,” “images,” “stories” etc.). However, all three genres can be factual, written in the first person, and presented as an LA. Yet Eldred and Mortenson are correct to distinguish the three genres, as there are significant differences despite the possibility of all of them addressing literacy development. Note the following similari­ ties and differences between these three genres: Narratives of socialization adopt such approaches as communities of practice (Wenger, 1998) or situated learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991) and typically demonstrate how one learns through practice (rather than theoretically) while engaged in an activity with others. The discourses and languages of that activity are key to this process of one’s socialization. These narratives can be written to describe how one develops proficiency and identity in literacy for educational purposes. However, they can also be written about socialization in the discourses of a profession (as in law or medicine), an institution (as in the workplace), or a community (i.e., becoming an insider in an affinity-group). Willard-Traub (2007) has recently reviewed how professionals in economics, psychology, and medicine have

22 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

narrated their socialization in their areas of expertise. Language and literacy often mediate these processes of socialization, but language norms or written products may not be the sole focus of the narration. Therefore, not all socialization narratives resemble LAs. Literature of the contact zone (and autoethnography, included as a genre within this) are also better known for addressing topics beyond literacy, such as cultural differences, ideological conflicts, and social encounters [as in the 17th-century text of Guaman Poma (1613/2009), for example]. However, writers have narrated how differences between competing lan­ guages (and communities that claim ownership over them) can be negotiated for voice and identity. Despite the power differences, such encounters engender new genres and lan­ guage practices (which are labeled by Pratt [1991] as the “literate arts of the contact zone”). Gloria Anzaldúa’s (1987) Borderland/La Frontera might be treated as an LA that shows how she negotiates power differences between the languages in her repertoire, such as Spanish, English, and American Indian dialects, to produce a codemeshed text. Literacy narratives are solely focused on language and literacy development, unlike the previous two genres. As mentioned earlier, however, LN can be written in the third person unlike LA. Both LN and LA can be also similar to the other two genres, as suggested ear­ lier. When the literacy development is socially situated and conceived as mediated through the practice of situated communication, LN and LA can be similar to socialization narra­ tives. LN and LA can be similar to literature of the contact zone when the literacy devel­ opment of marginalized or peripheralized communities is shaped in the context of power inequalities and ideological differences. For this reason, it is fitting that some scholars consider LN as a meta genre with LA as a part of it (as Soliday, 1994 does). However, it is equally possible to consider narratives of the contact zone or socialization as the overarch­ ing genres, with LA and LN as part of them. We have to treat these as overlapping genres that have certain points of intersection. Before I discuss other representations of the LA (the focus of this book), we must sepa­ rate autoethnographies from contact zone literacies. In treating autoethnography as a liter­ ate art in the contact zone, Pratt (1991) has articulated its resistant political potential. She defines autoethnography as: a text in which people undertake to describe themselves in ways that engage with representations others have made of them. Thus if ethnographic texts are those in which European metropolitan subjects represent to themselves their others (usu­ ally their conquered others), autoethnographic texts are representations that the sodefined others construct in response to or in dialogue with those texts. (p. 2; emphasis in original) The relevance of colonization to literacy is important to remember. The literacy practices of the powerful were imposed on colonized communities, aspiring to the status of uni­ versal norms. Furthermore, since the practices of marginalized/multilingual communi­ ties are often studied and described by scholars from dominant communities, they have always been distorted or denigrated. Autoethnography can enable marginalized people to represent their own literacy practices and experiences in their own voices, resisting the knowledge constructed about them. It enables them to counter such unfair and distorted presentations with their own texts, which adopt alternate genre conventions and voices. Talking back to the dominant communities in one’s own voices and genres can thus be

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empowering to multilingual and/or underrepresented students and writers – as it was for me in the LA quoted in the opening. However, we have to realize that autoethnographies can also be written without an explicit engagement with geopolitically charged ideological conflicts. What is key to this genre is that the self-narrative is situated in the fullest cultural and social context, as in ethnographies. It may explore diverse other themes beyond geopolitical relations, such as class, gender, regional, and professional identities (see for examples, Ellis, 2009). From this broader point of view, autoethnography itself emerges as a fluid genre, intersecting with many personal genres in fields such as anthropology, sociology, and creative writing. Leading proponents of this genre, Ellis and Bochner (2000, pp. 739–740) list about 39 subgenres (arranged A to W), ranging from autobiographical ethnography to writing-stories, with genres such as creative nonfiction, ethnographic memoir, ethnographic poetics, indig­ enous ethnography, narrative ethnography, native ethnography, and reflexive ethnography in between. All these genres share similarities with LA as they bring together the self, soci­ ety, discourse, and narrative in the text. The key difference, however, is that LA focuses mainly on literacy/discourse development, while others may focus on other diverse themes and identities. LA is gaining increasing prominence in certain professions beyond classroom contexts and creative writing. The genre is being put to use in these professions to tap into its capac­ ity to help people reflect on their challenges and trajectories and develop a reflexive ori­ entation suitable for a conscious and critical development of their professional discourses. Since inhabiting the languages, literacies, and discourses of a profession are a key part of one’s socialization, writing an LA can mediate this process. Scholars in education and related fields of pedagogy such as language teaching and literacy instruction have employed personal narratives to develop expertise and membership for novice professionals (see Johnson & Golombek, 2011). Instructors may guide novices systematically through the writing process to gain from LA’s capacity to foster reflection and identity development. In these contexts, LA is valued more for its functional outcomes and not for the rhetorical or aesthetic shape of the final textual product. The LAs discussed and represented in this book originate from such an orientation toward developing the professional identities and competence of teachers of writing. However, I am also interested in how the final products comment on the rhetorical and linguistic challenges writers negotiate in communicating in transnational spaces.

LA as a research genre LAs are also gaining attention for yielding research insights into people’s learning and socialization practices. They are thus valued in several language-related fields as a tool and method for research. Autobiographies are adding to scholars’ understanding of proficiency development in languages and literacies. We are gaining new insights into unorthodox strategies of learning, modes of constructing new language identities, struggles in nego­ tiating competing discourses, and learning processes outside formal school contexts (see Pavlenko, 2001; Barkhuizen, 2011). These autobiographies might be considered as pro­ viding insights into “learning in the wild” or “cognition in the wild” (Wagner, 2004) – that is, learning in nonformal settings through unconventional means. In addition to language and literacy learning, LAs can also provide insights into issues of relevance for

24 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

sociolinguists – such as negotiating conflicting language identities, community member­ ships, and mobility trajectories (see De Fina & Tseng, 2017). For these reasons, applied linguists and sociolinguists are developing research methods and elicitation tools to gener­ ate these narratives through interview procedures (see Barkhuizen, 2011). The very inter­ action between the interviewer and interviewee can shed new light on how identities are negotiated. In such studies, methods of eliciting the narratives are gaining importance. The process is as important as the product. Scholars are also developing more disciplined ways of analyzing these narratives for valid findings on language and literacy development (see Pavlenko, 2007). LAs provide these insights into literacy development through a form of knowledge con­ struction not always available in other academic genres. Consider the following orienta­ tions, that have been overlooked in other forms of inquiry but are unique to LA: 1




The self as the basis for knowledge. While empirical inquiry has valued detachment, a few schools such as phenomenology and symbolic interactionism acknowledge that the self is dynamically involved in constructing reality and interpreting experiences. To leave out the personal is to miss significant shaping factors and perspectives on the knowledge being constructed or represented. Detached observation and/or analy­ sis may provide a different representation of social and communicative life. Personal investment provides another vantage point on knowledge and life and should not be discounted. Narrative forms of knowledge. Narrative represents knowledge and experiences in embodied, contextualized, and concrete ways. Explicit analysis may filter out impor­ tant dimensions of experience. In narrative, all details are kept intact and presented in a situated manner. Radical practitioners of personal narrative genres even avoid adding an explicit analytical or theoretical discussion, separate from the story (see for a justification, Ellis & Bochner, 2006). Readers are expected to engage with the nar­ rative fully to infer (or experience) the knowledge embedded in the story before they decontextualize the themes. Reasoning through affect. Conventional academic inquiry has demoted the place of affect and feelings in understanding and representing experiences, while promoting rational and representational thinking. Emotions and perceptions are treated as impor­ tant dimensions of social experience and knowledge in many schools now (see Mas­ sumi, 2015). Some have articulated the place of nonrepresentational thinking (Thrift, 2007), which focuses on processes and practices (i.e., the “how”) rather than the prod­ uct and thematic content (or the decontextualized “what”). Narratives provide the capacity to think through perceptions and emotions. Thus, we might get an orienta­ tion to knowledge as experience. Knowledge as rhetorical. It is impossible to claim that knowledge is free of values or perspectives. Therefore, authors of LAs feel comfortable in adopting writing that is frankly evocative to present their knowledge and experiences. They adopt literary devices (i.e., of poetry and fiction) and other performance strategies (i.e., theatrical renditions and dialogue) to describe experiences with rhetorical richness. The repre­ sentation itself reconstructs the experience in significant ways. We should not expect the researcher/narrator to convey an unmediated truth. It is possible to argue, ironi­ cally, that evocative description is more authentic than reality – as it gets to the essence

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of the experience or perspective more directly or effectively. Strategic and conscious shaping can represent experiences and knowledge more insightfully. Knowledge as resistant. While rational academic inquiry focuses on detached analysis free of ideological influences and treats the construction of knowledge as an end in itself, we now realize that knowledge is always “interested” and political. Given the nature of power, it is the values and perspectives of the dominant groups that pass for established knowledge. Thus, there is a narrowness, insularity, and homogeneity to what counts as normative. LAs situate the experiences and perspectives of writers in their invested and contested social contexts to provide a critical vantage point on dom­ inant knowledge. They represent the writer’s “locus of enunciation” (Mignolo, 2000; or the space from which one communicates) with its full complexity to problematize normative knowledge. In adopting the personal and giving voice to diverse identities and locations, the LA has the capacity to resist dominant forms of knowledge.

Defining the LA Based on the preceding considerations, I wish to define LA in a manner that draws from the different genres to which it is related, its functions in developing reflexive identities, its representation in different disciplines and communities, and its resistant philosophical and ideological ramifications. I summarize the discussion by pointing to the continua of rhetorical features that are merged in LA according to the interests of writers: •

LA straddles the social and the individual. To begin with, the individual is already mediated by the social and embedded in it. Many theorists would argue that there is no personal outside the social. Languages and symbol systems are already social, as we share them with others. LAs help us define our personal space within a community, while also locating ourselves among social networks. It straddles the narrative and the argumentative. All good stories are shaped by an overarching theme or point. As illustrated in my own writing process above, the structure and trajectory of the narrative might be mediated by the writer’s exploration of a problem or question. The argument can be made more explicit according to one’s choosing. Therefore, when composition scholars such as Harris (1997) charge that personal writing disappoints the academic audience by not offering an argument, we have to ask if readers have read effectively to interpret the argument embedded in the narrative. It straddles the analytical and the evocative. Those two terms have been used as labels to describe the positions of two camps on ways to develop personal narratives (see Anderson, 2006; Ellis & Bochner, 2006). However, we have to treat these features too as a continuum. Evocative writing doesn’t have to avoid analysis. It can actually enhance an analysis. It straddles the personal and the scholarly. The fact that LAs represent certain wellregarded tropes (as themes or structure) suggests that larger discourses have a bearing on the narrative. As do social discourses and ideologies, available scholarly discourses also shape our stories. For example, tropes of hybridity or transnationalism predomi­ nate in recent narratives because postcolonial or postmodern discourses have a life beyond academic settings. Of course, one can engage more directly with scholarly

26 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

publications and research to develop significant themes in one’s personal narrative, as relevant to one’s rhetorical objectives. Thus, there are philosophical and epistemologi­ cal implications in all personal narratives. Based on the rhetorical possibilities explored above, I treat LA as a liminal genre. It is a genre between genres, disciplines, audiences, and social domains. It is open to being rendered along different tropes, discourses, and rhetorics. It provides the architectural possibilities for generating texts on different themes and objectives, with different rep­ resentations for different audiences. These possibilities have to be realized in a situated manner for one’s purposes and contexts. Hence its pedagogical value in educational contexts. This genre unveils the generative possibilities inherent in all writing and com­ munication. It helps students understand how all genres and texts have to be generated in a situated manner with respect to one’s meanings and objectives. In this sense, what LA helps accomplish is the realization of rhetorical possibilities and processes in all forms of literacy, which have been unfortunately suppressed by normative policies, expectations, and pedagogies. That LA is liminal was discussed initially by Soliday (1994, p. 522). She examines this liminal possibility in the LA of her African American student who explores her inbetween identity in her class writing. This example motivates Soliday to develop liminality as a trope that emerges in LAs in multilingual/marginalized writers. Rather than treating this liminality only as a possible trope or theme that might find representation through LAs, I would like to expand liminality as the very discourse of this genre. Liminality is more than a trope; it is the genre. Along this perspective, Willard-Traub (2007) reviews selected publications of professionals from diverse disciplines who adopt personal narratives to reflect on their work, to theorize these narratives as a “crossover” genre. Her label is appropriate for many reasons. To begin with, the personal narrative on professional sociali­ zation is adopted by writers in different disciplines. Though narrative is largely associated with creative writing and the humanities, it is being used by others to explore their disci­ plinary enculturation and reflection. Second, it helps these scholars “crossover” from their own professions to talk about their knowledge and perspectives with members of other fields and genres in an accessible genre. Third, it helps them “crossover” to the public and lay readers, share their experiences widely and critically, and perform public intellectual work. Such crossover possibilities are also indexed by my attribution of “liminality.” The genre helps writers to transcend disciplinary fields as they draw from different epistemo­ logical, linguistic, and cultural traditions to represent their identity development to diverse audiences. Before I conclude this discussion of definitions, a few caveats are in order. First, since the fluidity and hybridity that are part of this genre can convey the impression that LA is open ended and indeterminate, I wish to highlight the features that are critical. LA is primarily a personal narrative. In this sense, LA requires a personal voice and author’s self-positioning. The first-person stance is foregrounded, with the author’s social and eco­ logical contexts embedded. Furthermore, as a narrative, the genre features a chronological progression, concrete details, and situated interactions and events. The temporal structure doesn’t have to be linear. The narrative can adopt montages and juxtapositions that provide variation to the chronology. These genre requirements also allow for the personal to find highly modulated and layered representation (as I discuss next).

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A second caveat is that, despite the personal voice, the LA doesn’t provide unmediated access to the author’s experiences and perspectives. It is a shaped product. The themes and tropes that emerge are considerably motivated by the contexts and objectives shaping the narrative. There are many elements that shape this text: i.e., the interests of the writer; the audience addressed; the writing situation (place, time, community); and the broader historical, cultural, and ideological contexts of writing. We mustn’t also ignore the intertextual nature of these personal narratives. They are shaped by many other textual and semiotic chains, such as social, disciplinary, and narrative texts that come before and after the LA. I will demonstrate below how the pedagogical context I constructed in my class, in order to give voice to the linguistic, rhetorical, and ideological concerns of transnational identities, shaped the narratives of my students. I will situate the classroom in the broader social and material considerations as well. Therefore, the same writer might narrate dif­ ferent stories from the same experience, as shaped by different contexts and objectives. In the same vein, we have to acknowledge the processes that follow the writing of the text as also shaping the value and meaning of the narrative. The interpretive and critical commen­ tary on the text, or writings that follow on the same genre, influence the way we read the textual product. For example, the current critical discussion of transnationalism, and some recent LAs on that theme, might compel us to read earlier LAs (like those of Anzaldúa and Rodriguez) differently now (see Hsu, 2016 for such a re-reading). A third caveat is that what the LA means is considerably dependent on the reading strategies and motivations of the audience. The success of the LA as a genre doesn’t depend on the writer alone. Also, the text in itself is not guaranteed to bring out a specific rhetori­ cal effect or meaning. Its liminality actually calls for invested and situated negotiations of its meaning and effect. In this perspective, we have to move beyond simply considering the production context of LA and consider the circulation and reception of these texts as well. In the context of criticism by some scholars on the analytical and scholarly value of this genre (see Anderson, 2006; Harris, 1997), others have defended LA by saying that its value depends on sensitive and creative reading strategies to do justice to this genre. Hindman (2003) rightly responds to critics in composition by saying that “we have not yet paid enough attention to our practices of consuming the alternative discourse(s) that we [. . .] produce; as a result, our practices undermine, if not censure, innovative textual production, disciplining their subversive potential” (p. 14). We might say that LA provides the building blocks for meanings to be generated through sensitive and strategic interpretive practices.

Tropes of LAs Though Elder and Mortenson identify the “literacy trope” (following Brodkey, 1989) as characteristic of this genre, others have unpacked it to define the sub tropes that are part of it. The dominant theme under the literacy trope has been “literacy equals success” (Alex­ ander, 2011, p. 608). As part of this trope, writers typically narrate how their mastery of literacy derived cognitive, educational, professional, and social success. These tropes are ideological. They reflect attitudes and understandings shaped by broader social discourses on the place of literacy. As Alexander finds this to be the predominant theme in the metaanalysis she conducts of student writing, she labels it the “master narrative.” Alexander identifies other tropes that counter this theme and labels them “little narra­ tives.” For example, the “victim story” would narrate the reasons why one could not attain

28 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

success in literacy, such as bad teachers or lack of resources. It is different from the “hero” or “child prodigy” stories, which complement the “literacy equals success” trope. The lat­ ter tropes are examples of little narratives, as they present success as not directly attributed to literacy but to personal efforts or learning situations that are more individualized. Ironi­ cally, the “victim story” confirms the master narrative in an indirect way, as it explains how one couldn’t achieve the presumed success that literacy promises. Other stories can question the equation of literacy with success. Such scholars as Harvey Graff (1979) have shown through their historical research that dominant groups teach literacy to influence people to accept their underprivileged position by inculcating naturalizing ideologies. Also, in defining the norms for social mobility, dominant social groups enforce their own preferred literacies, making others appear incompetent. Such perspectives inform tropes of resistance. Examples of such tropes are “rebel” who opposes the norms of schooling and literacy and “outsider” who demonstrates alienation from mainstream literacies in favor of alternate norms. In labeling them “little narratives” as opposed to the trope of the master narrative, Alexander (2011) defines them as follows: Whereas master narratives, like the success narrative, are orthodox and legitimate, little narratives are unsanctioned, artistic, and imaginative; they are less generaliz­ able and more individualized and situated (Lyotard 31, 60). In fact, little narratives assume that “literacy is multiple, contextual, and ideological” (Daniell 403), and they “present many truths about literacy, not one Truth about it” (406). In addition, little narratives are often told by marginalized groups, such as women and minorities, whose stories run counter to the dominant literacy myths (e.g., Brodkey; Daniell; Gere). Although little narratives do take into account similarities and differences of communities, they do not try to reify experience or stereotype large groups of people like master narratives do. Rather, little narratives allow us to see “their importantly oppositional, or critical, social, and political energies” (Kreiswirth 310): the little narratives critique and challenge the dominant master narratives. (p. 611) I present the “becoming” trope that I identify in transnational LAs as illustrative of such little narratives. They demonstrate the resistant energies of the transnational and transling­ ual writers who sit in the margins of dominant literacies. Though the themes feature selfrealization, they don’t represent an end point to success as in the master narrative. The challenges for students from minority race (Soliday,1994), class (Robillard, 2003), and gender (Kraemer, 1992) backgrounds have been discussed by composition scholars in the tradition of little narratives. In fact, they have presented the LA as a genre eminently suitable for the representation of students from such underprivileged backgrounds. The liminal nature of this genre enables students to bring their outsider and oppositional identi­ ties into classrooms. A related little narrative more directly relevant to the objectives of this book is the trope of citizenship studied by Young (2004). He demonstrates the different ways ethnic minorities and migrants (Latinos, Asian-Americans) treat literacy in English as a path to assimilation or enculturation in the American mainstream. Some confirm the success narrative, though from an outsider perspective (as they are not from the “native English speaker” or dominant culture backgrounds that inform mainstream literacy). Oth­ ers question the imposition of dominant norms (i.e., rebel trope) or represent alienation

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from them (i.e., outsider trope). Young adopts a different label to capture these narratives. Following Deleuze and Guattari (1986), he calls them “minor” narratives in opposition to the “grand narrative” of literacy as success, with similar implications as in Alexander’s label. Little narratives have also served to explore different experiences in writing outside the classroom. Selfe and Hawisher (2004) have elicited narratives to explain how people developed computer literacy over time. These LAs have served to narrate the unorthodox learning experiences and the unconventional literacy brokers (such as family members and friends rather than teachers) who assisted participants in developing these literacies. Simi­ larly, Scenters-Zapico (2013) has explored how Hispanic participants of various age groups and social backgrounds developed technological literacy in the US/Mexico border as they shuttled between both countries with different literacy resources. Deborah Brandt (2001) has explored the professional literacies people have developed by themselves or through non-academic literacy brokers and sponsors. She has elicited these narratives orally by giv­ ing participants prompts to narrate their experiences. She has shown how people engage with literacy variously in their professional backgrounds, practicing novel genres, and developing their proficiencies through their own efforts.

Trope of becoming The trope I identify in the transnational LAs is different. I find that those who position themselves in a transnational locus largely adopt a trope of “becoming.” In negotiating competing languages and literacies, my student authors eventually resolve their conflicts by seeking new forms of hybridity that merge the competing discourses for a liminal position­ ing. This locus also embodies an ideological becoming, representing a critical awareness. Relatedly, the authors identify paths to take in future writing that develop a new literacy or voice that brings together competing discourses. Such LAs don’t feature a traditional sense of closure. They end in a forward-looking manner, motivated to explore and experiment further for textual or identity construction. They don’t present an end point they have reached in their learning trajectory. They conclude by articulating alternate possibilities, new horizons, and ongoing journeys. This trope of becoming should not be mistaken for lacking in direction, clarity, or vision. Transnational writers see the process of becoming as enriching, progressive, and maturing. In their shuttling across competing values, discourses, and literacies, they find a learning opportunity. One discourse or community plays off against the other to provide them vantage points for learning new writing and identities. Whether explicitly spelled out or implicitly embedded in the narrative, the writers represent the lessons they have learned, dispositions they have developed, and voices and styles they consider more empowering. They indicate that they plan to work toward representing or developing these realizations in their future communicative activities. I theorize in the next chapter that this trope complements the trajectories and identi­ ties of transnationals. As in their social life, their rhetorical and educational life is also always mobile. Their mobility encourages constant adaptation to different communities and contexts, and fluidity of identity and communication, in relation to the diverse spaces they travel through. Writers gain insights from the vantage point of third spaces they achieve through occupying alternating discourses and literacies. Their sense of identity,

30 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

home, and voice in such third spaces transcends territorialization. Transnationals find that ideologies of ownership, autonomy, or purity lack resonance with their experiences. The transnational locus of these writers (that constitutes this third space for them) appears to invite such an open-ended trope of becoming in identity construction and writing. They cannot write a “coming home” narrative because there is no home for many of them – whether attitudinally or geographically. For them, treating one location as their final or settled home is impossible, as they have moved to a positioning beyond bounded com­ munities, identities, or norms. They adopt perpetual movement or ongoing mobility as more resonant with their dispositions. Their education, work, social networks, and family involve connections and affiliations that always transcend the local. While physically they are networked in transnational social fields, they are also attitudinally predisposed to con­ sidering their affiliations and identities as transcending placement. In what might sound paradoxical, the very movement of mobility provides a reconceptualization of “home,” and therefore stability and meaning for transnationals. Hence the trope of becoming. “Becoming” might seem unsatisfying in relation to traditional tropes and themes that provide closure. However, some significant philosophical and scholarly developments help us understand how this trope can throw new light onto communicative and social pro­ cesses. This trope is in keeping with the turn toward non-representational thinking in the humanities and social sciences (Thrift, 2007). Scholarly inquiry has traditionally focused on truths, facts, substances, or essences. There is now a new appreciation of the logic of flows, movement, and process as itself a construct worthy of inquiry. In other words, rather than an obsession with the “what” of social or communicative life, we are now more interested in the “how.” Because there is so much unpredictability and diversity in trans­ national life, any attempt to discuss knowledge in terms of substances or essences is bound to be underwhelming. What might be more useful are the practices and processes behind knowledge, identity, or community construction. Thus, writers find it more satisfying to identify and develop the dispositions, strategies, and awarenesses that will guide them in the trajectories of transnational life. The becoming trope of transnationals might be con­ sidered a “little narrative” that has the potential to resist and redefine the master narratives of success. It is possible to think of the trope of becoming as informed by resistant strate­ gies in the way Bhabha (1999) defines hybridization. This notion constitutes strategies and dispositions that help writers reposition themselves for voice against literacies, discourses, and ideologies that might suppress their interests. The trope of becoming indicates that they prefer to keep their textual and discoursal options open for ongoing renegotiation and reconstruction. Let me illustrate how this trope of becoming manifests itself in the plot structure of transnational LAs. First take my own LA quoted in the beginning of this chapter. The con­ clusion of my LA might be considered somewhat inconclusive by some readers. I end with paths to take in the future in my literacy life and writing practice: “I am now constantly trying out ways of reconciling the competing discourses in a manner that is more satisfying to both my politics and poetics,” I write. I also mention the realizations from my writing trajectory that might help me in this ongoing exploration. Throughout the essay, I shuttle between conflicting rhetorical traditions and literacy practices, letting each comment on the other, without leaning toward one side to find an easy resolution. In this sense, the trajectory is not toward an essence, final answers, or a stable location. Though I mention third/hybrid discourses as possible directions to explore, I don’t claim that I have actually

Transnational space


achieved this form of identity or rhetoric. A third space or hybrid discourse is not an end point but a creative space that generates strategic and changing communication. What I have achieved are new dispositions that might help me in my future development, such as a critical orientation toward writing, and a keener appreciation of writing as ideological, cultured, and shaped through negotiable norms and conventions. I express regret having tried to satisfy dominant norms by suppressing my preferences and develop the boldness to make spaces for my preferred discourses in writing. I become comfortable with being rhetorically more creative and attempting ways of merging diverse discourses and litera­ cies for new forms of coherence. Thus, my learning trajectory has engendered a dialectic of self-making and discovery that is ongoing. It is possible perhaps to treat these achieved realizations and dispositions as a suitable conclusion to my story. In that sense, it is not as if my journey is without direction or that my narrative lacks vision. Such becoming is the dominant trope I found in the student LAs that adopt a transna­ tional positioning. For many students, what makes it difficult to achieve stability or closure is that their communicative and identity challenges are not binary – i.e., between two languages, literacies, or nation-states. The negotiation involves more than two languages. For Natalia, the languages at issue are Spanish, French, and English. For Jialei, they are Mandarin, French, and English. For Stephanie, they are Mandarin, German, and English. For Bendi, they are Tibetan, Mandarin, and English. In this sense, their transnational nar­ ratives touch on complex trajectories of mobility that cannot be reduced to L1 (first lan­ guage) versus L2 (second language) or home versus host language/culture. Furthermore, after the intense shuttling that accompanies mobility, some students find what is “home” or “native” confusing. Therefore, they find the identity positioning and rhetorical exploration of “becoming” a more satisfactory trope. For many students, their creative textual products provide temporary conflict resolutions and afford virtual homes. Consider how this trope emerges in one student essay (presented in section 2 of this book). Ruth Sauder concludes her essay by stating: I am not grown up yet. I do not know yet. But I hope I will find a way to make the world more beautiful. These are the words from young Alice in a story book by Cooney (1982), which was read to Ruth by her parents when she was small. She had opened her LA with these words. Her life had later involved, quite expectedly, traveling in search of a mission in life. She had developed very useful realizations and dispositions that help her critique the biases of her Anglo-American community and appreciate the multilingualism of others. However, she states in her conclusion that her search to make the world beautiful has not ended. She comes full circle back to close her LA with the words of the childhood literacy character she started her text with. Ruth’s LA suggests that the trope of becoming is not limited to multilinguals alone. It is also represented in “native English speaker” students who adopt a transnational positioning for their narration. To illustrate how multilingual students adopt the trope of becoming, consider how Kyoko (pseudonym) concludes her narrative: “Perhaps, I am in the middle of the shifting process of thinking in English from personal to objective, or from emotional to logical. And I don’t know how long it will take for me to master it.” She had started her writing by saying she was in the “middle of nowhere” – i.e., a position of confusion

32 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

and disorientation at the first blush of encountering English language and American aca­ demic discourses. She struggled against the pressure to adopt “native speaker” norms in academic English writing. She discussed her interest in merging Japanese and American academic discourses to construct satisfactory forms of identity and voice rather than adopt­ ing either discourse in a one-sided way. When she describes moving from personal to objective, or emotional to logical, she doesn’t mean a unilateral progression to one end but finding middle positions. Though she says that she doesn’t know “how long it will take for me to master it,” she brings out the progress she has made and indicates optimism when she states that she is “in the middle of a shifting process.” She has developed critical insights into competing discourses and identity positions, charted a way forward for her own becoming, and started an enriching trajectory with sufficient clarity. Such an ending looks forward to further enriching negotiations in reconstructing identities and discourses. That the trope of becoming is associated with a transnational locus becomes clear when we compare it with LAs written by other migrants and minorities in the West. When migrants adopt a nation-state framework, their tropes differ from the one I have iden­ tified. Consider the tropes Young (2004) identifies in his analysis of citizenship narra­ tives. Adopting constructs from Scribner (1988), Young presents the following sequence of tropes as characteristic of LNs of citizenship in the authors he studies: Adaptation: the pressure to adapt to the dominant community; the desire to adopt the established norms for assimilation; and the realization that the language and literacy resources migrants already possess are inadequate for success; Power: the achievement of success by mastering the dominant discourses; the realiza­ tion of the power associated with dominant language and literacy practices; State of grace: the transformation of one’s identity and literacy. This can take positive or negative directions. That is, writers can feel a sense of achievement in attaining hybrid identities that resolve their conflicts, or they can feel alienated from their families and communities and undergo conversion. Rodriguez’s (1982) Hunger of Memory, an LA, illustrates these tropes well. Rodriguez, as a Hispanic child who is doubly disadvantaged in terms of race and class, gradually masters English and dominant literacies to achieve power. His narrative illustrates the pressure to adapt to dominant norms in an effort to join the social mainstream and achieve educational success. In the end, however, Rodriguez ponders on his achievement critically, torn about losing solidarity with his Hispanic community for the sake of joining the mainstream. However, he resolves to justify his move to the dominant community and communicative norms, treating them as the desirable end point, despite the loss of his home language and identity in his trajectory. Since the nation-state was his framework of consideration for his social assimilation and literacy trajectory, his LA adopts the “literacy as success” trope, with some undesirable consequences for his identity and community solidarity. Other narratives in this genre, including those of Villaneuva (1993), Bulosan (1973), and Young (2004) himself, adopt a critical position in the end about their literacy jour­ ney. They don’t justify their move to the dominant/mainstream norms but critique the ideologies that suppress their identity and voice, and alienate them from their home or native communities. They conclude by resolving their conflicts with a position of hybrid­ ity, attempting to merge their native/local values with dominant literacies and language

Transnational space


norms. This end point could be considered a state of grace, as they find a more satisfactory realization. However, this trope of hybridity is slightly different from that of becoming, which presents ongoing identity and rhetorical construction. The authors find a resistant and reconfigured position within the dominant society and its norms or within the nationstate framework. My comparison with the becoming trope is not to criticize the tropes or positions of other migrant narratives. Young and other authors have good reasons to nar­ rate their literacy trajectories in relation to citizenship in a nation-state. My point is that the locus of writing shapes the tropes differently in transnational LAs. Other migrants such as Anzaldúa (1987) and Hoffman (1989) have positioned them­ selves in a transnational space and adopted the trope of becoming. In a perceptive analysis, Soliday (1994) compares the narratives of Rodriguez and Hoffman to bring out what she considers the teleological trajectory of the former and the more liminal locus of the latter. She observes: Unlike Rodriguez, Hoffman portrays the crossing of boundaries as a continual, life­ long process of shuttling back and forth between the Polish of her past and the Eng­ lish of her present. Where Rodriguez’s journey is unidirectional and irrevocable, Hoffman’s is bidirectional and subject to ongoing writing and thinking about her growing sense of self and the meaningfulness of language in regards to that self. (p. 521) We see clear differences in the trajectories and desired end points of both authors. Soli­ day is careful to point out that this lack of closure in Hoffman shouldn’t be considered as pointless: “When she recognizes her hybridization of voice and self, she discovers a way of holding her Polish and English selves in creative tension and is able finally to achieve a suc­ cessful – although never fully complete – translation of her difference” (p. 521). Anzaldúa (1987) is another example of a writer who positions herself between nation-states, as she literally comes from the borderlands of USA, Mexico, and Native American tribal lands. Her becoming in her LA is represented by codemeshing “standard” English, TexMex, Spanish, and American Indian languages such as Nahuatl. Note that it is not the identity of the authors (i.e., whether they are native or non­ native; citizen or migrant) that explains the trope of becoming but the space in which they locate themselves. Though many of the authors discussed above are migrants (in the literal geographical sense, including some who are first generation immigrants to the US), they don’t adopt the trope of becoming because their motivation is assimilation. They position themselves within a given nation-state rather than in transnational social fields. Therefore, the “becoming” trope is not automatic for all migrant translinguals. It is rhetorically moti­ vated and textually achieved. By the same token, that someone is not a migrant doesn’t preclude one from adopting this genre. The narratives of Ayesha in Soliday’s study and of my student Ruth show that a US citizen can adopt the transnational positioning and trope of becoming even if they don’t shuttle across different countries. To summarize the discussion so far, the transnational LA is located in liminal social fields that characterize mobility. Writers of such LAs attain a realization or footing that helps them consider their literacy trajectories as occurring between and beyond communities. For writers who position themselves as such, becoming emerges as a desirable trope. The genre’s liminality is congenial to such tropes and spaces. As I discussed in the opening, the

34 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

very process of writing can help one to attain such a transnational footing and shape their literacy trajectory as a becoming. However, the fact that not all migrants or all who write an LA adopt such a trope suggests that there are complex personal, historical, and social influences that explain the desirability of this trope or positioning.

References Alexander, K. P. (2011). Successes, victims, and prodigies:“Master” and “little” cultural narratives in the literacy narrative genre. College Composition and Communication, 62(4), 608–633. Anderson, L. (2006).Analytic autoethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35(4), 373–395. Anzaldúa, G. (1987). Borderlands/La Frontera. San Francisco:Aunt Lute Books. Barkhuizen, G. (2011). Narrative knowledging in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 45(3), 391–414. Belcher, D. D., & Connor, U. (Eds.). (2001). Reflections on multiliterate lives. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Bhabha, H. K. (1999). Interview: Staging the politics of difference: Homi Bhabha’s critical literacy. In G.A. Olson & L.Worsham (Eds.), Race, rhetoric, and the postcolonial (pp. 3–42).Albany: SUNY Press. Brandt, D. (2001). Literacy in American lives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Brodkey, L. (1989). On the subjects of class and gender in “The literacy letters.” College English, 51(2), 125–141. Bulosan, C. (1973). America is in the heart:A personal history. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Canagarajah, A. S. (2001). The fortunate traveler: Shuttling between communities and literacies by economy class. In D. Belcher & U. Connor (Eds.), Reflections on multiliterate lives (pp. 23–37). Clev­ edon: Multilingual Matters. Canagarajah, A. S. (2012a). Teacher development in a global profession: An autoethnography. TESOL Quarterly, 46(2), 258–279. Canagarajah, A. S. (2012b). Autoethnography in the study of multilingual writers. In L. Nickoson & M. Sheridan (Eds.), Writing studies research in practice: Methods and methodologies (pp. 113–124). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. Canagarajah,A. S. (2016a). Crossing borders, addressing diversity. Language Teaching, 49(3), 438–454. Canagarajah,A. S. (2016b). Translingual practices and neoliberal policies:Attitudes and strategies of African skilled migrants in Anglophone workplaces. Berlin: Springer. Connor, U. (1999). Learning to write academic prose in a second language:A literacy autobiography. In G. Braine (Ed.), Non-native educators in English language teaching (pp. 29–42). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Cooney, B. (1982). Miss rumphius. New York: Penguin Books. Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1986). Kafka:Toward a minor literature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. De Ayala, G. P. (1613–2009). The first new chronicle and good government (R. Hamilton, Trans and Ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press. De Fina,A., & Tseng,A. (2017). Narrative in the study of migrants. In S. Canagarajah (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of migration and language (pp. 381–396).Abingdon: Routledge. Eldred, J., & Mortensen, P. (1992). Reading literacy narratives. College English, 54(5), 512–539. Ellis, C. (2009). Revision:Autoethnographic reflections on life and work.Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. Ellis, C., & Bochner,A. P. (2000).Autoethnography, personal narrative, reflexivity: Researcher as subject. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 733–768).Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Ellis, C., & Bochner, A. P. (2006). Analyzing analytic autoethnography: An autopsy. Journal of Contempo­ rary Ethnography, 35(4), 429–449. Graff, H. J. (1979). The literacy myth: Literacy and social structure in the nineteenth century city. New York: Academic Press. Harris, J. (1997). Person, position, style. In G. Olson & T.Taylor (Eds.), Publishing in rhetoric and composition (pp. 47–56).Albany: SUNY Press.

Transnational space


Hindman, J. (2003). Thoughts on reading “the personal”: Towards a discursive ethics of professional critical literacy. College English, 66(1), 9–20. Hoffman, E. (1989). Lost in translation. New York: Penguin Books. Hsu, J. (2016). Dynamic disclosures: Personal writing, relational rhetoric, and institutional narratives (PhD dissertation), Submitted to Pennsylvania State University. Johnson, K., & Golombek, P. (2011).The transformative power of narrative in second language teacher education. TESOL Quarterly, 45(3), 486–509. Kraemer, D. Jr., (1992). Gender and the autobiographical essay. College Composition and Communication, 43(3), 323–339. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Massumi, B. (2015). Politics of affect. Malden: Polity. Mignolo, W. D. (2000). Local histories/global designs: Coloniality, subaltern knowledges, and border thinking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Pavlenko,A. (2001). Language learning memoirs as a gendered genre. Applied Linguistics, 22(2), 213–240. Pavlenko, A. (2007). Autographic narratives as data in applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 28(2), 163–188. Robillard, A. (2003). It’s time for class: Toward a more complex pedagogy of narrative. College English, 66(1), 74–92. Rodriguez, R. (1982). Hunger of memory. New York: Bantam and Turner Books. Scenters-Zapico, J. (2013). Transnational translingual literacy sponsors and gateways -n the United States-Mexico borderlands. In S. Canagarajah (Ed.), Literacy as translingual practice (pp. 182–194). London: Routledge. Scribner, S. (1988). Literacy in three metaphors. In E. Kintgen, B. Kroll, & M. Rose (Eds.), Perspectives on literacy (pp. 71–81). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. Selfe, C., & Hawisher, G. (2004). Literate lives in the information age. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Sharma, G. (2015). Cultural schemas and pedagogical uses of literacy narratives: A reflection on my journey with reading and writing. College Composition and Communication, 66, 459–466. Soliday, M. (1994). Translating self and difference through literacy narratives. College English, 56(5), 511–526. Thrift, N. (2007). Non-representational theory: Space, politics, affect. London: Routledge. Villaneuva,V. (1993). Bootstraps: From an American academic of color. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English. Wagner, J. (2004).The classroom and beyond. The Modern Language Journal, 88, 612–616. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Willard-Traub, M. (2007). Scholarly autobiography: An alternative intellectual practice. Feminist Studies, 33(1), 188–206. Williams, B. (2003). Heroes, rebels, and victims: Student identities in literacy narratives. Journal of Adoles­ cent & Adult Literacy, 47(4), 342–345. Young, M. (2004). Minor re/visions:Asian American literacy narratives as a rhetoric of citizenship. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.


கட்டுனை. Perhaps there are good cultural reasons why I am comfortable with liminal genres. It is

interesting that the word in Tamil for essays, kaTTurai, is a term used for diverse kinds of writing. It can mean “bound prose,” “a binding of texts,” or “fabrication” (indexing both meanings of “made up” and “put together”). In the Tamil community, we don’t have specialized terms for different types of essays – such as academic essays, school writing, or an opinion piece in the newspaper. All of these genres are referred to as கட்டுனை. In some ways, it is possible to consider the Tamil notion of essays as a liminal genre. The text adopts any shape depending on the context. In fact, in classical times, கட்டுனை meant imaginative oral art forms. The word was pressed into service for writing when we developed a prose tradition after European colonization. When someone asks me for a கட்டுனை, I have to figure out the rhetorical context (i.e., who asked me for it, who is the potential audience, and where will this be published?) in order to write the text appropriately. And there are no rigid norms for each context. All essays are therefore negotiated ground up for their structure, style, and tone, in relation to these contextual considerations and authorial goals. The ambiguity and fluidity of genre boundaries give me leeway to develop some creativity and personal voice even in academic genres. It is possible that this situation exists in Tamil because prose is a recent modality in our community. Though we find brief prose inscriptions in ancient times, expanded prose entered our community after colonization by European communities. Many important discourses – such as medicine, law, religion, and philosophy – were in verse traditionally. It is after colonization that we developed the conventions for representing these discourses in prose. In fact, even our modern prose is considerably influenced by our orality. In this sense, கட்டுனை is a contact zone genre, developing from a merging of modalities and traditions. It is certainly different from European traditions of writing which have specialized genres and conventions with separate terms for each of them – such as belles lettres, research articles (with its own acronym, RA), book chapters, and pedagogical genres such as five-paragraph essays. For this reason, Tamil academic genres are fluid. They may demonstrate a range of tones, styles, and discourses (see Canagarajah, 2002a, for a description of the literacies in Sri Lankan Tamil academic commu­ nity). The Tamil academic essay can merge the personal and the narrative with the scholarly quite comfortably for readers’ tastes. This notion of கட்டுனை as a liminal genre that needs to be negotiated for its contextual realiza­ tion has predisposed me to see all writing as liminal. There is an emerging understanding in

The shaping of literacy autobiographies


composition and literacy circles that we have to consider all genres as fluid (Swales, 2004; Miller, 1984). These scholars are gradually moving away from defining genres as rigid structures, to perceiving them as “family resemblances” that need to be negotiated in a situated manner. That is, the genre for each context has to be negotiated in relation to the rhetorical context, despite well-known templates in English writing. There are no preconstructed genre rules that can fully help in achieving successful com­ munication in each context. In fact, the same genre, the RA, will be realized differently in different fields, journals, and subjects. Genre conventions cannot be uniformly imposed in all contexts. The liminality of LA is of considerable value in developing in our students the notion that all writing has to be negotiated ground up, in relation to the rhetorical context, balancing competing rhetorical values such as the personal and the social, narrative and argument, or embodied and analytical.

LA as constructed Though I won’t adopt a reductive cause/effect analysis to explain what factors help writers to adopt the trope of becoming and transnational positionality, I will narrate the diverse considerations that go into shaping the texts and identities of the students presented in this book. By shaped or constructed, I mean that the text or identity doesn’t originate from the writer or his mind; they are mediated and influenced by diverse historical, social, envi­ ronmental, and rhetorical factors. While some of these factors will be resourceful, others might be constraining. The realization that the LA is a shaped genre should guard us from essentializing the trope of becoming and transnational positioning as attributable to the character of specific writers. This realization will help us understand that we can motivate anyone to adopt this trope or positioning with the appropriate guidance and scaffolding. While some shaping factors, such as historical and rhetorical developments, are not within the control of writers and teachers, pedagogical processes are. Therefore, modes of eliciting and representing these narratives in classrooms can benefit from strategic intervention. The factors shaping LAs range from relatively local to global. I will discuss below some of the broad influences shaping these transnational LAs. I will reserve the more specific and local pedagogical procedures for Chapter 3. We must note first that composition research and pedagogy have not paid close atten­ tion to the procedures behind the writing and analysis of literacy narratives. Often the LAs are analyzed as self-standing products without consideration to what motivated their shaping. Teachers don’t always describe the pedagogical activities or classroom conditions that shaped the LAs of their students. Researchers also analyze them as finished products. Final drafts are coded or interpreted for themes without consideration for the rhetorical contexts of social interactions that generated them. We need information on the whole writing ecology to consider the influences shaping the texts. Just the prompts given for the writing activity are not enough to explain the context. For example, Young (2004) gives the detailed prompts for the writing of his students’ LAs but leaves out his teacher feedback, peer comments, classroom interactions, and ecological resources that shaped the texts produced in his class. Soliday (1994), Robillard (2003), and Kraemer (1992) provide even less information. We usually read excerpts from the final drafts of students. In applied linguistics and sociolinguistics, there is greater sensitivity to the processes of composing these texts and analyzing them for meaning as mentioned earlier. I outline the contexts that shaped the LAs presented and analyzed in this book. These contexts will gain salience differently according to one’s writing project.

38 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

Historical context The transnational LA is influenced by geopolitical and technological changes that have intensified globalization and mobility. Writers are now more sensitive to representing their identities as hybridizing, their community memberships as diasporic, and their communi­ cative repertoires as translingual. While multilinguals and migrants may readily position themselves in transnational social spaces, those who are relatively more sedentary are also located in such spaces. The instantiation of the global in the local, and the rescaling of all spaces as part of translocal networks, transform everyone’s locus as transnational. From this perspective, even American students who consider themselves “native English speak­ ers” in my classes position themselves in transnational social spaces to generate tropes of becoming. We have to be mindful that different historical conditions and developments shape dif­ ferent social discourses on mobility. Therefore, the tropes of migration have been varying over time. Pavlenko (2007) observes that immigrant narratives in the US in the early 20th century developed the rags-to-riches trope, celebrating their success through self-effort and hard work. She mentions that writers didn’t address linguistic or cultural conflicts because of their relative optimism of succeeding in a land with space for all immigrants at that time. After that, she finds the “one nation-one language” trope on the rise in the 1920s. These immigrant narratives discussed the strains of assimilation. Later, in the 1970s, she sees the rise of melting pot discourses that explain the trope of hybridity. The current neoliberal disposition shapes other tropes and discourses in LAs. The biopolitics of neoliberalism provides a high place for identity representation (Holborow, 2015). Selfawareness, self-invention, and self-presentation are valued for one’s need to market oneself to diverse employers and for different purposes. These developments make the LA a genre with functional value for neoliberal agendas. “Becoming” might be a preferred trope for constant mobility and self-marketing. We will later discuss how this trope might counter dominant ideologies.

Rhetorical context Accompanying geopolitical changes, there are also epistemological shifts with implications for rhetoric, enabling the representation of voices and discourses that are friendly to the LA genre. While modernity valued detached inquiry to understand an underlying reality, there has been a backlash against this approach. Recent orientations assume the role of values in inquiry. Mobility and transnationalism have played no small part in making the West aware of diverse epistemological traditions in different communities and demonstrat­ ing how the positivistic orientation of modernity is biased toward the epistemologies of the West. They thus facilitate an appreciation of the close relationship between rhetoric, ideology, and knowledge. From such developments follow the greater acceptance of the personal and the narra­ tive in academic contexts and the willingness of more students and scholars to undertake this genre in scholarly communication. With the broadening of our notions of knowledge and inquiry, we have also become comfortable with alternate forms of academic discourse in many disciplines beyond composition courses. There is a greater readiness to consider the personal and narrative as conducive for valid insights into social and natural life. The

The shaping of literacy autobiographies


popularity of LA as a genre in educational and scholarly contexts is no doubt shaped by a change in rhetorical traditions and values in the present time. Similarly, the fact that writ­ ers are now more comfortable with codemeshing in their writing, even in nonfictional genres, reflects the times. (Note, however, that codemeshing is an ancient literacy prac­ tice in many communities, including mine – see Canagarajah, 2013a) Hybridization is an important process in textual representation as well as identity positioning. This rhetorical value facilitates the meshing of diverse semiotic resources (i.e., sound, images, and body, in addition to words) in writing. Furthermore, the case for nonrepresentational thinking makes it possible for more writers to treat processes, not essences or truths, as significant themes for their writing. Thus, the trope of becoming gains academic value even if the text doesn’t offer formulaic knowledge constructs.

Production context At a more local level, we have to be mindful of the contexts in which the narratives are written, circulated, and read. To begin with, we have to consider where they were written, why, and for whom. Such a context can be highly layered. The production context of the student narratives in this book shows the influence of multiple locations and interactions. The LAs were developed in classrooms as part of a course for pedagogical purposes. The classroom featured relationships among students and teachers which provided possibilities for co-constructed writing. The audience was understood as the classroom community. Furthermore, the LAs were elicited as part of a research project. I will discuss the produc­ tion context of my LAs in relation to both teaching and research, though both are some­ what intertwined. Research context: In contexts where there is a clear research purpose guiding the writ­ ten narrative, it is important to consider how the writing prompts, interview questions, research objectives, and interactions of the researcher shaped the narrative. Scholars of LAs are becoming mindful of the procedures in eliciting or generating these narratives. In an appendix in her book, Brandt (2001) provides the questions she posed her informants to prod them to narrate their literacy experiences. Selfe and Hawisher (2004) also comment exten­ sively on the process of posing elicitation questions, co-writing the narratives, and memberchecking for fair representation based on their project methods and interviews. Concerned about dilemmas and distortions in representing other people’s voices and experiences in the third person, they invite some of their informants to coauthor the narratives with them. The elicitation methods are often influenced by the goals of the researchers and their intended audience. Brandt was interested in exploring writing in public/civic contexts. Selfe and Hawisher were interested in the use and learning of technology in writing. Both projects were intended to contribute to scholarly discussions on literacy. Readers will see that the narratives these researchers obtained were shaped by their scholarly objectives and audience. There are many methods of constructing interviews, surveys, and prompts to generate narratives (see Canagarajah, 2012; Chang, 2008). As in the case of the Brandt and Selfe/ Hawisher projects, third-person interviews and/or survey questions to writers designed to elicit their narratives are very common. The questions given by the editors who com­ missioned my LA (see Belcher & Connor, 2001, pp. 209–211) also served as a heuristic to elicit and analyze literacy experiences for a dozen multilingual/international scholars from diverse fields for an academic audience.

40 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

In some methods, the researcher and the subject/s work together in constructing a shared story. This method I would label “interactive” to index the dialogical construction of the narrative (see Canagarajah, 2012). It is also labeled “duoethnography” (Sawyer & Norris, 2012). For example, in another project, a novice scholar and I posed questions for each other on our experience working as a mentor and mentee to generate our story and then coauthor it for a publication (see Canagarajah & Lee, 2014). The advantage of this interactive elicitation strategy was that the narrative was more dynamic in its shaping. The questions were a response to the evolving themes and reflections as we prodded each other on the themes that emerged. The questions and narratives were more concretely situated in the social context and relationships being explored. In this method, the participants develop a shared narrative, with their elicitation progressing in relation to the themes and issues at every stage. In the methods discussed earlier, the researcher remains relatively detached from the writer, often giving one or more general prompts at the beginning to elicit the narrative. There are also procedures for the authors themselves to research their literacy trajec­ tories. I label this method “self-reflective” (Canagarajah, 2012). One’s self-generation of experiences and ideas doesn’t have to be only introspective. Researchers have outlined diverse objective techniques for self-analysis. Some such techniques are: a systematic selfobservation that involves keeping a record of one’s own activities, trajectories, and changes and an interactive self-observation in working with a few others who are involved in a similar project to make one’s experiences explicit (see Chang, 2008, pp. 89–95). Selfreflective data includes field notes to record the researchers’ private and personal thoughts and feelings and reading the self-narratives of others to bring out comparisons. Methods for collecting personal memory data include: writing an autobiographical timeline; “inven­ torying self ” (which means collecting information, and evaluating and organizing it); and “visualizing self,” which includes drawing kinship diagrams; free drawing of people, self, places, and events to generate thought; and reflecting on photographs or video to exter­ nalize submerged thoughts and feelings (Chang, 2008, pp. 71–88). Some might also do archival research, collecting their past essays and other artifacts relating to their literacy development. It is important to adopt a structured method for eliciting past experiences and also basing the reconstruction on relevant artifacts. Relying only on personal memory may lead to inaccuracies. Some of my students were able to collect and analyze their past writing samples for their LA. At a time when we have electronic archives of diverse formal and informal genres, it is not difficult for writers to gather a corpus of their own texts as data for analysis. My research adopted a hybrid of the above approaches. I provided my students a defi­ nition of LA, a broadly stated prompt for the writing, and broke the prompt into smaller questions to generate their thoughts for the LA (see appendix 2). In addition to the prompts, I scheduled periodic interviews and questionnaire surveys to help students reflect on their composing process, some of them tailored to each person’s trajectories. These exercises had both a research and a pedagogical function. In addition to providing me data on their writ­ ing practices and attitudes, they were also intended to develop a reflective awareness among the students about their identities and rhetoric. These exercises were interactive, as in the second research method described above. The feedback and interactions were shaped by the theoretical orientations motivating my research. I was exploring the notion of language socialization. The questions leaned toward understanding how students developed literacy

The shaping of literacy autobiographies


through their writing practices in actual social contexts while engaging in communica­ tive activities. The research was also influenced by the translingual paradigm that valued the language repertoires students brought with them and which they adopted to fashion their ongoing identities. We have to therefore situate the LAs in this book in the research context to understand their shaping. Pedagogical context: When LAs are written in school, college, or university classrooms, the writing prompts, teaching objectives, classroom interactions, and assessment proce­ dures will shape the narrative. In Chapter 5, I will give details about the course organi­ zation and interactions to analyze their influence on the LAs (sample syllabi are given in appendix 1 and 2). A few general observations should suffice for now. My courses adopted a critical orientation to English, by virtue of being sensitive to the ways multilinguals might use the language creatively with divergent norms. Though the course objectives and essay prompts didn’t require students to codemesh, students were linguistically creative and rhetorically bold in their writing. They were motivated by the course artifacts (i.e., recom­ mended readings, their peer’s drafts), among other resources. The narrative I cited in the beginning of this book was given as a model for this genre. Some students mentioned that the narration of my rhetorical conflicts and alternatives stimulated their own explorations. Though I didn’t codemesh extensively in that LA, the students could have been influenced by a reading of African American scholar, Geneva Smitherman (2003), who codemeshes in her writing. The ecological resources and environmental factors surrounding the instruction also shaped the LA in significant ways. My identity as a critical multilingual scholar and “non­ native English speaker” probably encouraged students to be experimental (as some noted in their interviews). However, the fact that the LAs were written in an American univer­ sity made students sensitive to the dominant norms, which they had to carefully negotiate for their voices. We must also remember that these LAs were written over an entire semes­ ter, involving multiple drafts, with peer and teacher feedback. We will consider later how this writing process shaped the narratives, with the questions and suggestions from others playing a significant mediating role. In fact, in many cases, the classes became communities of practice, with students helping each other narrate their literacy developments in relation to connected themes and styles. This writing context probably helped the students develop more confidence for experimentation, as they were responsive to each other’s rhetorical moves. Their evolving texts in turn shaped the context and ecology. They changed the relationships between students and between them and me in the class, as we now had access to personal knowledge that we didn’t have before. The changing knowledge also made us relate to our texts differently. The narratives of international students enabled “native English speaker” students to discover their own transnational identity and situate their texts in transnational spaces. In this sense, the LAs reshaped the context, configuring a conducive environment for creativity and resistance.

Material context We have to be open to diverse influences beyond the here and now – or the visible and immediate. We have to take into consideration the variable resources and constraints for writers from their material and spatiotemporal contexts. The narratives to follow will clarify influences such as the following on LAs: technology and other writing resources;

42 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

physical and social spaces for composition; the time available for composing; artifacts such as reference texts and models for writing; and access to language and other relevant semi­ otic resources. We have to acknowledge that writers enjoy relatively less possibilities to change certain material contexts that can constrain their writing and discourse. However, they can position themselves strategically in relation to available resources and locations to generate texts that are creative and affirm their voices. Consider the fact that many of the students writing these LAs don’t have extended and sustained access to privileged varie­ ties of English (such as “Standard Written English” or American English). However, they emplace themselves in the diverse other resources to which they have access (i.e., other languages; images and visuals; and social networks, including literacy brokers) in order to shape their LAs. Strategic emplacement in relevant material contexts and resources may provide qualified agency for writing. We have to see the LAs as themselves part of a network of relationships, among social participants, other texts, and ecological resources that constantly shape each other, progres­ sively reframing the terms of communicative interaction. About ten years after some of the earliest LAs presented here were written, I am even more confident in talking about codemeshing and translingual writing, thanks to the way in which these texts and my presentation of them in academic communities have changed the context. The increas­ ing visibility of such texts in pedagogical and scholarly forums has prepared readers for encountering them more and reading them more receptively. The very process of writ­ ing them has generated clarity and boldness for experimentation for some of us. On the other hand, the texts that have followed ours have made us understand our earlier writing differently. Readers therefore must be open to the possibility that the rhetorical, social, academic, and historical contexts I have outlined above are themselves reconstructed and reconfigured by LAs, generating greater receptivity to personal, narrative, and alternate discourses and knowledge.

Analyzing the transnational LA It is not only the writing of LAs that is shaped by diverse contexts; analyzing the LA is also similarly shaped. The knowledge we develop from narratives is informed by one’s objec­ tives, values, interpretive processes, and frames of analysis. For these reasons, Barkuizen (2011) coins the term “narrative knowledging” to indicate that the knowledge we gener­ ate from narratives is an outcome of a shaped and mediated activity. Making knowledge from narratives is rhetorical and social, influenced by the relevant contexts for knowledge construction and dissemination. Therefore, analyzing and reporting on narratives requires acknowledgment of the researchers’ interests, beliefs, and goals, among other contextual influences. Extricating the tropes and themes away from mediating contexts, with a stance of objectivity and detachment, is misguided. Before I explain my orientation to the analysis of the LAs presented in this book, I wish to present some general guidelines that have emerged through thoughtful meta-analytical publications in recent years (see Pavlenko, 2007; Barkhuizen, 2011). Barkhuizen distinguishes between narrative analysis and analysis of narratives. The former is the use of narrative as a research tool (or method) to explore diverse themes (such as identity, learning, or community relations). The latter is a study to understand narratives, including features such as their structure and discourse. Furthermore, the former treats

The shaping of literacy autobiographies


narrative as a process, with sensitivity to its social shaping and its construction, while the latter treats narrative as a product to analyze its form. Pavlenko (2007) has usefully classi­ fied possible modes of narrative analysis into the following three: life reality (what the nar­ ratives say about events and experiences); subject reality (what the narratives say about the development and trajectories of the narrator and his/her identity); and text reality (what the discourse, language, or writing say about the text and how it has been constructed). For example, I can study the LAs written by my students for what they say about their cultures or communities (life reality); their own development as learners or writers (subject reality); or their preferred styles, genre conventions, languages, and voices (text reality). Even if we prioritize one mode of analysis for our purposes, it is good to keep the other considerations in mind for how they comment on our focus. For example, while mining the narratives for themes, we cannot overlook how the themes are shaped by the way the text is put together. Furthermore, we must be mindful that there are narratives within narratives in every textual or oral artifact. Scholars have made a distinction between big stories and small stories (see De Fina & Georgakopoulou, 2008, ch. 2 for a discussion). While big stories are fullfledged, with a well-developed trajectory and characters, small stories are underdeveloped or alluded to. They might be brief anecdotes or vignettes that contain the germ of a story. We should consider the ways in which the smaller episodes are framed in relation to the larger narrative being developed. Note that the pair of constructs big/small stories is dif­ ferent from the ideologically informed constructs discussed earlier, such as major/minor narratives (Young, 2004) and master/little narratives (Alexander, 2011) that indicate status differences. In the case of multilingual writers, we should consider how their narratives might differ across their different languages. Some researchers are fortunate to find an alternate version of a writer’s story in another language. Some writers may have narrated a version of that story orally or written some earlier drafts in another language, enabling comparison. It is useful to compare them to find how the rendition and tropes are different across languages. From that perspective, we have to be also mindful of changes across different modalities of the narrative. In many situations, writers first construct a narrative orally or in multi­ media format, such as video. In the example of the autoethnography Ena and I co-wrote (Canagarajah & Lee, 2014), we first presented it orally with the aid of PowerPoint slides to a conference audience. There were differences in theme, focus, and style when we wrote that afterward for publication. In cases of narratives elicited through interviews or survey questions, there could similarly be changes in the written version. I will show in the fol­ lowing chapters how texts from readings, discussions, and activities in classrooms were “entextualized” into the written narrative of my students. As articulated above, we have to consider the contexts of elicitation, production, and dissemination of the narrative to con­ sider how they influence the telling/writing. Similarly, different versions of the draft can reveal the choices and decisions of the authors as indicated by their changes. We must also acknowledge that the silences are sometimes as telling as the explicit statements. Therefore, we have to consider not only what is included in the narrative but what has been excluded. Moreover, researchers have to declare their analytical interests and theoretical par­ adigms. Even in coding the narratives for recurrent themes, such as in the fashion of grounded theory (Clarke, 2005) as I did for these narratives, we should be aware that our theoretical frameworks and guiding questions shape the results. We cannot pretend to be neutral and treat the coding as objective, as claimed by early waves of grounded theory (see

44 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

Clarke, 2005 for a critique). In this way, the knowledge researchers create from narratives is shaped by their analytical and interpretive concerns and their theoretical and ideological leanings. My focus and objectives in the analysis to follow are shaped by the themes I have chosen to explore. I intend to analyze an underexplored orientation in the text reality of LAs – that is, translanguaging. Other analyses of the interactional and textual moves in a narrative do exist. The discourse analytical model of Labov and Waletzky (1967) suggests the progres­ sion and evolution of the story by categorizing them into the following: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Abstract – How does it begin? Orientation – W ho/what does it involve and when/where? Complicating Action – Then what happened? Resolution – W hat finally happened? Evaluation – So what? Coda – W hat does it all mean?

Some have analyzed the production formats in the narrative by adopting Goffman’s (1981) terms: author, principal, and animator. These constructs help understand how the voices of writers, authorial personae, and characters are layered and differently positioned in the narrative (see for a review, De Fina & Tseng, 2017; Pavlenko, 2007). Other scholars have studied code-switching or register shifts in the speech of characters. There are very few analyses of codemeshing in the authorial voice and within the body of the same artifact. I hope to bring a fine-grained and interactional analysis of how authors mesh diverse codes in relation to the interpretive strategies of their readers and their rhetorical objectives. This textual dimension adds insightfully to my focus on the literacy development and identity construction of my students (i.e., subject reality). As the writers discuss their attitudes toward competing literacies and languages, and comment on new realizations for their writing practice, they are also shaping their own texts to comment on their trajectories. There is thus a performative side to this writing. The text reality comments on their sub­ ject reality. I have adopted grounded theory as my analytical procedure. Simply put, this approach involves multiple iterations of coding for recurrent patterns and tropes in texts. The process is recursive – i.e., between the micro to the macro, from details to generalizations, and text to context – revising the formulation of patterns as one proceeds till there is a sense that saturation has been achieved and more iterations won’t alter the knowledge constructed. Though early models of grounded theory made it appear that the procedure was totally objective, scholars now acknowledge that one’s values, expectations, and backgrounds will shape the patterns identified (Clarke, 2005). Readers must keep in mind my theoretical discussions, research expectations, and contextual descriptions that shape my analysis. Though grounded theory is useful for text analysis, we must be sensitive to the contexts and interactions surrounding the negotiation, circulation, and production of texts. For this understanding, I adopted an ethnographic orientation (Greene & Bloome, 1997). The larger context helped me comment on the textual choices more insightfully. In coding for these patterns, I took into consideration the social and cultural information from my classrooms to interpret the data. The ethnographic orientation to data gathering involved the following procedures: periodic interviews with participants on their attitudes and

The shaping of literacy autobiographies


practices; stimulated recall of textual choices for chosen authors; collecting drafts of texts, journals, and artifacts of classroom activities; and observation notes on classroom activities and interactions. As I will demonstrate below, these multiple data sources provide useful information on the shaping of these texts and code choices. To serve my research interests, I have coded the multiple drafts of LAs, journal entries, online discussions, interview comments, and survey responses of students and the teacher and student feedback on drafts to explore the following concerns of text reality: 1 2 3

What strategies do authors adopt to mesh diverse semiotic resources in their texts? What strategies do readers adopt to interpret such codemeshing? How do students learn to read and write this form of negotiated literacy?

To explain these textual resources and practices, I focused on the following questions of subject reality: 4 5 6

What are the trajectories writers narrate on moving between languages, literacies, and communities? What are their motivations for these mobilities? What dispositions facilitated and developed these mobilities?

In addition to the contexts shaping the research and teaching that generated the data, the venues where I am presenting my findings shapes the knowledge being constructed. My presentation of these LAs in refereed journal articles led to disembodied presentations that classified the patterns and strategies of text reality (see Canagarajah, 2013, 2015). The version in this book for what I consider a mix of audiences and fields (i.e., teachers and researchers from linguistics, literacy, and education) permits me to paint a more holistic picture. Also, I am able to narrate my own learning and development process as I teach and study literacies. The narrative mode enables me to demonstrate how these strategies are connected to the interests of the participants and the affective dimension of grappling with composing and interpreting texts. In order to adopt this mode of presentation in this book, I had to re-analyze the data for findings that my previous interpretive iterations didn’t explore. In other words, my different modes of knowledge dissemination are not an act of reframing knowledge one already has on these narratives but generating new knowledge and interpretations. These processes are part of what Barkhuizen (2011, p. 391) refers to as “narrative knowledging.”

The limits of the self As we study LAs, we have to adopt a qualified view of the expressive, transcendental, and resistant potential of the self. Humanist and modernist orientations to the self might give the impression that people have unqualified agency for expression, self-making, and selfunderstanding. We have to critically interrogate the following assumptions, which might influence our reading of LAs: 1

Self-understanding: that the writer always has clear and accurate knowledge of one’s identity conflicts and trajectories of development;

46 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

2 3

Self-construction: that the writer is able to adopt any identity or voice one desires with unqualified agency; Self-representation: that the writer can accurately and transparently communicate one’s perspectives and trajectories.

First of all, there are limits to how much self-knowledge one can develop into one’s own trajectories in multilingual literacies. There is no objective analysis of oneself possible for anyone. Also, one’s experiences are not transparent even to ourselves. We must recognize that our understandings are shaped by social and discursive processes. Even to understand ourselves, we need language and discourse. Disciplinary discourses, political ideologies, and social values surrounding us mediate our understanding of ourselves. Therefore, the orientations writers provide into their trajectories, motivations, and aspirations are partial, contingent, and situated. The same writers might represent a different understanding of themselves in a different time, place, or genre for a different audience. Secondly, self-making is also shaped by diverse factors. We mustn’t think that we have the power or agency to make ourselves into any person or identity we want to be. The personal is through and through social. Our interactions with others, the discourses we share, and our social ties go into the layering of who we are. There are also time and space constraints on who we are and would want to be. We are shaped by historical and geographical situatedness. Factors such as structural inequalities (i.e., class position, power difference) and material constraints (i.e., access to resources) are more challenging to nego­ tiate in the making of oneself. Posthumanism would question the notion that each person is autonomous and agentive, and demonstrate how we are an assemblage of diverse mate­ rial, social, and semiotic resources (see Pennycook, 2018). One’s “becoming” therefore should be understood as a qualified and constrained enterprise. Though we are shaped by the affordances and constraints in our social, geopolitical, ecological, and material context to work toward a constant making of oneself, we might strategically position ourselves in these networks to achieve resistant voices and interests. Consider again the ideological shaping of our identities, which can take very subtle forms in a neoliberal dispensation. The biopolitics that favors powerful institutions require certain forms of the self that we might find desirable. There are often illusions of selfmaking, creativity, and diversity that might sound empowering to us but which also play into the interests of powerful organizations and institutions. As production and marketing practices transcend borders, and technology leads to new communicative and produc­ tion practices, neoliberal subjects are expected to constantly learn and develop hybrid and diverse repertoires. Furthermore, we cannot also ignore appropriation. The values, dispo­ sitions, and skills writers develop in their literacy can be appropriated for marketization purposes and ulterior motivations. As many have pointed out, certain types of multilingual and multicultural discourses serve the status quo (Kubota, 2014; Flores, 2013). As for self-representation, we should remember that the reader’s interpretive work, motivated by their values, strategies, and motivations, shapes the writers’ stories about themselves. Our LA is part of a network of many other LAs, alongside relevant scholarly and creative texts. Though writers can engage with this intertextuality to shape the nar­ rating of their lives in strategic ways, they don’t have total control of the reception. Read­ ers from diverse times and places, bringing their own texts to bear, will receive these LAs differently. And this writing/reading process is not linear or direct. We have to consider

The shaping of literacy autobiographies


this literacy activity as part of a semiotic network, with readings shaping our own under­ standing of our earlier and future retellings of our lives. Additionally, this representation is shaped by diverse discourses. There are cultural differences in representation. Scholars have pointed out that the self is represented differently in different communities (Atkinson, 1997). This is partly also dependent on how the self is understood. Sharma (2015) and Wil­ liams (2003) point out the difficulty for some international students in writing LAs accord­ ing to American academic discourses. They observe that students conceive of the self as embedded in the collective and may find it uncomfortable to glorify the self. Their narra­ tives might therefore appear less directly focused on their own development or concerns. All this is not to say that writers don’t have agency. We just have to develop a more qualified notion of agency that works toward understanding, representation, and identity construction in relation to diverse structural constraints and ecological affordances (see Ahearn, 2001). Rhetoricians have recently developed metaphors, such as emplacement, that theorize the need to situate oneself strategically in the contexts of given material exigencies for voice (Pigg, 2014; Rickert, 2013). Also, power can be renegotiated, but with consider­ able sensitivity to the constraints, inequalities, and sources of domination. We will explore such strategic and qualified forms of agency in the LAs we analyze in the chapters to follow.

References Ahearn, L. (2001). Language and agency. Annual Review of Anthropology, 30, 109–137.

Alexander, K. P. (2011). Successes, victims, and prodigies:“Master” and “little” cultural narratives in the

literacy narrative genre. College Composition and Communication, 62(4), 608–633. Atkinson, D. (1997).A critical approach to critical thinking in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 33(1), 71–94. Barkhuizen, G. (2011). Narrative knowledging in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 45(3), 391–414. Belcher, D. D., & Connor, U. (Eds.). (2001). Reflections on multiliterate lives. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Brandt, D. (2001). Literacy in American lives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Canagarajah,A. S. (2002a). A geopolitics of academic writing. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Canagarajah, A. S. (2012). Autoethnography in the study of multilingual writers. In L. Nickoson & M. Sheridan (Eds.), Writing studies research in practice: Methods and methodologies (pp. 113–124). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. Canagarajah, A. S. (2013a). Translingual practice: Global Englishes and cosmopolitan relations. Abingdon: Routledge. Canagarajah, A. S. (2013b). Negotiating translingual literacy: An enactment. Research in the Teaching of English, 48(1), 40–67. Canagarajah, A. S. (2015). “Blessed in my own way”: Pedagogical affordances for dialogical voice construction in multilingual student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 27, 122–139. Canagarajah, A. S., & Lee, E. (2014). Negotiating alternative discourses in academic writing: Risks with hybridity. In L.Thesen & L. Cooper (Eds.), Risk in academic writing: Postgraduate students, their teachers and the making of knowledge (pp. 59–99). Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Chang, H. (2008). Autoethnography as method.Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. Clarke, A. E. (2005). Situational analysis: Grounded theory after the postmodern turn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. De Fina, A., & Georgakopoulou, A. (Eds.). (2008). Narrative analysis in the shift from text to practices. Special Issue Text and Talk, 28(3), 275–281. De Fina,A., & Tseng,A. (2017). Narrative in the study of migrants. In S. Canagarajah (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of migration and language (pp. 381–396).Abingdon: Routledge. Flores, N. (2013).The unexamined relationship between neoliberalism and plurilingualism:A cautionary tale. TESOL Quarterly, 47(3), 500–520.

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Goffman, E. (1981). Forms of talk. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Greene, J., & Bloome, D. (1997). Ethnography and ethnographers of and in education: A situated perspective. In J. Flood, S. B. Heath, & D. Lapp (Eds.), Handbook of research on teaching literacy through the communicative and visual arts (pp. 181–202). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Holborow, M. (2015). Language and neoliberalism. Abingdon: Routledge. Kraemer, D. Jr., (1992). Gender and the autobiographical essay. College Composition and Communication, 43(3), 323–339. Kubota, R. (2014).The multi/plural turn, postcolonial theory, and neoliberal multiculturalism. Applied Linguistics, 37, 474–494. Labov, W., & Waletzky, J. (1967). Narrative analysis. In J. Helm (Ed.), Essays on the verbal and visual arts (pp. 12–44). Seattle: University of Washington Press. Miller, C. R. (1984). Genre as social action. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 70, 151–170. Pavlenko, A. (2007). Autographic narratives as data in applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 28(2), 163–188. Pennycook, A. (2018). Posthumanist applied linguistics. London: Routledge. Pigg, S. (2014). Emplacing mobile composing habits: A study of academic writing in networked social spaces. College English, 66(2), 250–275. Rickert, T. (2013). Ambient rhetoric. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Robillard, A. (2003). It’s time for class: Toward a more complex pedagogy of narrative. College English, 66(1), 74–92. Sawyer, R., & Norris, J. (2012). Duoethnography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Selfe, C., & Hawisher, G. (2004). Literate lives in the information age. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Sharma, G. (2015). Cultural schemas and pedagogical uses of literacy narratives: A reflection on my journey with reading and writing. College Composition and Communication, 66, 459–466. Smitherman, G. (2003). The historical struggle for language rights in CCCC. In G. Smitherman & V. Villaneuava (Eds.), From intention to practice: Considerations of language diversity in the classroom (pp. 7–39). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. Soliday, M. (1994). Translating self and difference through literacy narratives. College English, 56(5), 511–526. Swales, J. (2004). Research genres. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Williams, B. (2003). Heroes, rebels, and victims: Student identities in literacy narratives. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47(4), 342–345. Young, M. (2004). Minor re/visions:Asian American literacy narratives as a rhetoric of citizenship. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.


—யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் ரேளிே்

That was my first trip outside the country. I had finished my undergraduate education in the capital city and returned to Jaffna (my rural place of birth, where I had lived continuously for twenty years) to teach English as an instructor in the local university. I had declined job offers elsewhere as it was our custom to always return home, though we might study or work temporarily out of town. My community members preferred to study, work, marry, and die in our own soil. The crib where I slept was used by my two daughters, and would have been used for their children and their children’s children. However, the recent ethnic conflict drove many of us abroad as refugees, and changed our way of life. Given this background, I approached my first trip overseas with a mixture of anxiety, curiosity, and excitement. I wasn’t going too far. It was only to India, right across the sea; but it still counted as a foreign trip to me. I was attending a conference for Christian youth from countries all over Asia (including Australia and New Zealand). The first part of the conference involved a field trip in small groups to study issues of poverty, caste, and gender in selected regions. As I mingled with my team members from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Philippines, I realized the benefits of proficiency in English. We could communicate with each other and share our diverse experiences. I had many questions about the com­ munities they came from, and compared how their accounts matched what I had read in newspapers. Even within the short span of a week, we had developed good friendships with our team members. As we conversed about our love for our communities, our fears for the planet, our concern for rampant poverty in our continent, and how our spirituality called us to activism and engagement, we were growing intimate. This language was helping us build a cosmopolitan disposition beyond the differences we brought with us. After the field trip, we met with the other groups in New Delhi for a workshop designed to ana­ lyze our observations and formulate an agenda for social change. Sadly, on the last evening, before our departure to our respective countries, this mystical harmony was shattered. A friend from New Zealand and I were seated under a banyan tree, talking, as the conference organizers were getting the dining hall ready for the final meal. As the balmy tropical wind blew under the moonlight, things got a bit personal. We talked about our dreams for the future. Then she asked me if I was working. I said I was a teacher. “Of what?” I said, “English.” There was a pause. She thought hard for a moment, and then asked me: “You mean, you teach your English?” Another pause. I thought for a moment, puzzled as to

50 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

what this question might mean. What was wrong with teaching my English? Even more puzzling, what was wrong with my English? Unable to respond quickly to a question I had never encountered before, or perhaps confused at the prospect that there might indeed be something wrong with my speech and identity, I simply said, “Yes, I teach my English” and moved on. However, that question remained with me as I took my flight home the next morning. Was there indeed something wrong with my language? The possibility that it was deficient added something different to my identity. I felt alienated from my Caucasian friends from Australia and New Zea­ land. I didn’t make an attempt to find the handwritten note on which we had exchanged our mailing addresses and phone numbers, promising to keep in touch. I realized for the first time that something might be wrong with my English. Having lived my whole life in a community where there was a shared local norm for English, I had never had an opportunity to problematize my variety. I considered my English perfect. I was even proud of it because, together with other educated middle-class families in my country, I believed that it was superior to that of my less educated and poorer compatriots. Now, all those assumptions crumbled. Thus, began my journey toward a new identity and communicative practice. It started with that painful realization of otherness at the transnational social field. As I expanded my frame of reference beyond my own community, I experienced conflicts with my localized sense of proficiency and identity. This is an experience that is narrated over and over again in the transnational LAs of my students, reported in this book. People encounter difference as they shuttle across borders. They then experience conflict, alienation, pain, and/or disorientation. They might resolve this disturbance in different ways. In cases where they encounter a “higher status” language, multilingual students initially desire the identity the second language pro­ vides. In some cases, they might resist and withdraw to the security of their home language and identity. For a majority of people, however, the tension between semiotic systems results in shifting subject positions, initiating a negotiation that is ongoing, leading to what Kramsch (2009, p. 98) labels “subject-in-process.” It can turn out to be a progressive and enriching journey of self-development and identity construction. I treat this process as the emergence of a translingual disposition, represented in the trope of becoming in transnational LAs.

The translingual subject The translingual subject can be defined as an identity position situated in the liminal spaces between nation-states, develops a “meta” awareness of negotiating languages and cultures, and treats identity construction as an ongoing process of emergence. This ori­ entation to identity is different from what has been adopted in fields such as applied linguistics and literacy studies. Scholars of motivation, identity, and language acquisition in applied linguistics theorize how people develop competence in a second language and identity, adopting a trajectory of accommodation to a target speech community. For example, early scholarship on motivation posits that those who have an integrative motiva­ tion (i.e., the desire to join or engage with the community that speaks that language) are more successful in learning a second language than those who demonstrate an instrumental motivation (i.e., learning the language for pragmatic goals such as passing a test or getting a job) – see Gardner, 1985. These constructs treat language learning and identity construc­ tion as a case of moving from one community or nation-state to another, in a somewhat linear direction.

Emergence of the translingual subject


In contrast to this largely psycholinguistic orientation, recent social orientations to motivation accommodate socioeconomic and diversity considerations. Adopting the meta­ phor of investment, Norton (1995) theorizes that those who are invested in learning a lan­ guage for social and economic goals (such as asserting their identity in the new community for the economic survival of their family, or gaining a job that suits their accomplishments) are more successful in appropriating the second language for their interests. Such learn­ ers go on to develop hybrid identities. However, these studies have largely explored the appropriation of another language according to one’s own values and interests in terms of a specific locality, such as a nation-state. Hybridity is sometimes treated as an end point rather than a strategy for ongoing and resistant identity construction (as theorized by Homi Bhabha). Bhabha (1999) defines hybridization as a strategy of emergence, a practice (rather than an essential state) that always resists dominant discourses for empowerment, in an ongoing and situated manner. It is such an orientation that the LAs presented in this book adopt. The authors of these transnational LAs celebrate their in-between status in liminal social spaces, treat identities as ongoing, and compose narratives of “becoming.” Why is it that some people find meaning in liminal language identities, while others resolve their trajectory in favor of native speakerhood (either in a second language or their first)? In this section, I draw from available scholarship to outline how this identity posi­ tioning is theorized. My analysis of the LAs presented in this book adds further complexity to the trajectories in the emergence of identities and proficiencies between languages. Claire Kramsch (2009) offers a theoretical orientation that provides a useful starting point for this exploration. She develops this orientation in relation to the LAs written by students on their multilingual learning and identity experiences in courses on heritage language and intercultural studies. Many of these texts are written by “1.5 generation” students in the US, who are in some ways inhabiting liminal spaces between countries and communities. Understandably, they adopt the trope of liminality and translingual discourse. While many of these LAs are short (students were asked to write a one-page narrative in their courses) and some appear as brief excerpts in data, we glimpse rhetorical and linguistic creativity in their writing. Though many of them contain codemeshing, Kramsch doesn’t label them as such. She treats them as “codeswitching” or “hybridity” and accommodates them under rhetorical creativity. Despite these differences in terminol­ ogy and orientation, I find the models she provides to explain her “multilingual subjects” relevant to those whom I call “translingual subjects,” as their dispositions are similar. Kramsch borrows constructs from Lacan (1977), Kristeva (1986), and Foucault (1991) to explain the emergence of the multilingual subject. I paraphrase Kramsch’s interpretation of these thinkers before I discuss how my position differs slightly in relation to the writing from my students. It is unnecessary for the purposes of this chapter to review the theoreti­ cal discourses of these thinkers extensively. Drawing from Lacan’s (1977) psychoanalytic orientation, Kramsch theorizes identity construction for a child as involving objectifying her identity and separating herself from her emotional oneness with her mother. Develop­ ing a social identity also involves adopting language. Since language is systematized, Lacan considers it as belonging to the father’s world of detachment and objectivity, different from the mother’s world of empathy. Moving from her mother’s world of personal empathy and unity to the father’s world of objectivity and sociality generates tensions for the child. Though the child desires the father’s world of objectivity, she also feels that this world involves subjecting herself to a system that is not fully satisfactory. It involves separation

52 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

from the mother’s world of empathy and wholeness. Besides, the public world of the father is not fully under the child’s control, leading to dissatisfaction. In this sense, Lacan explains how there is always a tension one has to live with in identity construction between the rich empathetic world of the mother and the objectifying organized world of the father. Kramsch proceeds to borrow from Kristeva (1986) to develop the creative possibili­ ties behind these tensions. Kristeva treats the mother’s world as semiotic against the father’s world of systematized language, which she labels symbolic. The mother’s world is semiotic in that it includes diverse expressive resources, such as myths, rhythm, and multimodal resources, which are not connected to language nor fully systematized. Because the moth­ er’s world is embedded in time and space contingencies, Kristeva calls the mother’s world Chora. Identity construction through the systematized world of the father she labels Theta. As the child moves to learn language, she experiences a tension and alienation from the mythic world of the mother. The father’s rational symbol system, though necessary for social communication, proves to be limiting in relation to the mother’s rich and expan­ sive semiotic world. However, this tension generates creativity, as identity construction involves constantly shuttling between both worlds, drawing from the semiotic world to construct new symbols and texts, providing greater coherence. Thus, people fashion new expressive resources between the worlds of the father and the mother in search of more fulfilling identities. Kramsch adopts this process as an analogy to explain the creativity of multilingual students. They experience tensions and alienation writing in English, as they are constantly reminded of the oneness that their home, family, and first language pro­ vide. These influences from the mother’s world are constantly layered in their writing in English, generating new expressive resources and identities for them. Kramsch then borrows from Foucault to bring out the ideological implications behind language learning and biopolitics. Foucault (2004) sees the resistant potential in identity construction in the role of myths that provide a critical perspective on the father’s world of public symbol system. The focus on myths in subject formation rather than on semiotic resources draws attention to the ideologies that inform the expressive systems of the father’s and mother’s world. Though some are empowering myths (such as those that inform the mother’s world to represent rich diversity, new possibilities, and larger connectivities), other myths are limiting. The latter are often controlled by the state and powerful institu­ tions for shaping desirable or compliant subjects. This is the biopolitics of governmental­ ity for controlling people’s affective, cognitive, and behavioral life through language and discourses. These languages and discoursal genres are shaped by powerful institutions and agencies of the father’s world. Finding subjecthood in these symbolic resources and myths involves losing one’s voice and speaking for the status quo. However, the mother’s semiotic world of free-floating signifiers and expansive myths provide people a way to resist the limiting ideologies of the father’s world. This tension explains the possibility of critical thinking and resistance. As people move between ideologies represented by the father’s and mother’s worlds and occupy liminal spaces beyond structures, they develop critical discourses. Kramsch goes on to employ this theoretical orientation to analyze how the tension between languages explains the liminal spaces occupied by multilingual students who shuttle between languages. This orientation also explains for Kramsch their creativity in constructing hybrid texts to find new “textual homes” that resolve their expressive and identity tensions. Her application of this orientation to multilingual writing works by

Emergence of the translingual subject


analogy as follows: The multilingual students who are writing currently in the dominant local language, English, are adopting symbolic self 1 (or S1). However, in writing as S1, they are reminded of the rich semiotic world of the mother. This is the S2, which seems to stand variably for good myths, rich semiotic worlds of the home, or the heritage language of the student. As S2 informs the writing in more engaged ways, the text provides a new tentative home that resolves the tensions for the writer in S3. This S3 is also a reflexive position situated in liminal spaces, marking a subject-in-process. Thus, these orientations help explain the literacy struggles for multilingual students as lying between L1 and L2, home and school, family and society, or native community and host/immigrant commu­ nity, as they construct new identities and expressive repertoires.

Some modifications I apply the theoretical orientation developed by Kramsch slightly differently to accom­ modate the findings in my corpus of LAs. I prefer to treat “father’s world” and “mother’s world” as metaphors for different language and identity relationships in one’s life trajec­ tory. It is understandable that some readers will be alienated by the gendered and reduc­ tive implications of these psychoanalytic metaphors. I’ll adopt the metaphor home for the mother’s world and society for the father’s world. Though their relationship between these domains will be presented in more complex ways below, their implications for identity development have been articulated by a respectable body of literature in applied linguistics. Fishman (1990) has theorized how the home is the critical domain where an endangered language of a minority community can be revitalized, as the family has the power to resist social and political forces that impose hegemonic languages and cultures. Ethnographers of literacy, such as Heath (1983), have theorized the differences between home and school/ society in language and knowledge, especially for minority children, arguing for an effec­ tive transition. In education, Gonzalez, Moll, and Amanti (2005) have emphasized the “funds of knowledge” cultivated by the family for these children, though denigrated by mainstream school and social institutions. However, in my students’ writing, I find that these contrasting domains of the mother’s and father’s world, or home and society, present more complicated challenges and pos­ sibilities. To begin with, the home is not always inhabited by good myths. My students narrate how the expressive life at home was invaded by limiting myths (informed by rigid language norms) very early in their life. This finding suggests that L1 (or their heritage language) should not be romanticized, although it often tends to provide a nurturing and expansive world for the child through being situated in the home and family. L1 can be informed by the limiting myths of purity, order, and rules. The writers of my corpus of LAs narrate how their L1s sometimes presented norms and genres that tended to be restric­ tive for them. Some encountered these restrictive norms in schools, while others encoun­ tered them in homes, as caretakers presented puristic and standardized ways of using the L1, presenting an alienating experience. To make the notion of Foucauldian myths relevant to multilingual writing, I like to treat them as language ideologies (Kroskrity, 2000). Language ideologies are assumptions about what constitutes a language, how it is to be used, and wherefore it gains value. Monolingual ideologies are an example of limiting myths. They treat languages as sepa­ rated from each other, superior to other expressive systems, owned by native speakers, and

54 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

normative. I treat translingual ideologies as empowering myths that are more inclusive, creative, and critical. They treat expressive resources as working together as an assem­ blage for the diverse communicative interests of users. If we treat language ideologies as the issue of concern, we can also say that languages by themselves are not good or evil. It is the language ideologies associated with the use of any language that can make it limit­ ing or creative. From this perspective, all languages in practice tend to be made up of floating signifiers with immense creative potential. It is not the languages in themselves but the ideologies of schools, parents, and politicians that turn languages into repressive and reproductive systems. Furthermore, any language can be associated with repressive or empowering language ideologies, whether L1 or L2. Similarly, the semiotic resources of the home can also be structured into dominating and restrictive systems by limiting ide­ ologies. Therefore, we have to consider the ideologies informing expressive resources to assess their use, effect, and realization. From this perspective, language ideologies provide a more insightful explanation for the experiences in identity construction. Adopting the above qualifications, consider the following analytical possibilities in the LAs presented in this book: •

A language that may be an alienating second language for some students, might be part of the domestic world of empathy and wholeness for others. For example, English can be treated as a symbolic system of the public institutions for some multilingual students. For “native English speaker” students, on the other hand, English can be intimate and sedimented with empathy and warmth. Thus, we can free languages to play creative or limiting functions based on the language ideologies they are attached with. The focus on language ideologies helps us to treat the L1 or L2, home or society, native or host community as not homogeneous or holding the same creative or limiting val­ ues all the time. It is ideology constructions that shape verbal and semiotic resources to be used in particular ways. This explains the possibility for my students that sometimes L1 is inscribed with repressive language ideologies which enter the familial world. On the other hand, some students find creative potential in the world of schools and soci­ ety when they acquired critical insights into language in practice. Hence, for example, English can be liberating for such multilingual students whose L1s have been presented in rigid ways. Even those students who consider themselves monolingual or “native speakers” of a single language can experience the potential in identity construction explained above for multilinguals. That is because the tension between good myths and bad myths (i.e., monolingual and translingual ideologies) can get played out in the same language. For example, someone who speaks or writes only in English can still adopt the trope of becoming and codemeshing in their writing through critical engagement with the diverse ideologies associated with English. There is some truth to the observation that multilinguals are more favorably disposed to critical communicative practices and a translingual disposition (see Canagarajah, 2013a). These possibilities derive from the opportunities for defamiliarization pro­ vided by the diverse languages in their repertoire. As multilinguals shuttle between languages, they have possibilities for understanding the limitations of territorialized language ideologies and other limiting myths. Also, communities in the global south

Emergence of the translingual subject


have accommodated diverse semiotic and symbolic resources for centuries that they are relatively more attuned to more inclusive translingual ideologies. In a similar way, it is possible for language practices of early childhood, associated with the family and home, to be informed by more expansive ideologies. The fam­ ily may not experience the limiting ideologies of social and political institutions too directly. The home and family can turn out to be relatively safe spaces from repressive institutions and their limiting myths, as theorized by Fishman (1990). The expres­ sive resources here are relatively less systematized, unlike those of social institutions. One’s childhood ecology may also feature rich semiotic resources, with communica­ tion involving symbols beyond verbal resources, such as sound, images, rhythm, and body. To some extent, these semiotic resources are part of one’s prelinguistic devel­ opment in infancy, and they remind one of expansive communicative possibilities. Therefore, with some qualification, we can understand how the intimate world of home, family, and community might present resources for creativity and help resist limiting myths.

The orientation articulated above on the emergence of the translingual subject explains the connection between transnationalism (the liminal social spaces beyond communities and nation-states) and translingualism (the communicative possibilities beyond labeled lan­ guages). Writers don’t necessarily codemesh as an artificial exercise or under pedagogical duress. The teaching experiences of both Kramsch and myself show that our students codemeshed even when they were not required to. As writers occupy in-between spaces between the familial and social worlds, they have to construct new semiotic resources to represent their identities. While the society’s repressive discourses are limiting, they can’t also return to the home’s mythic world of empathy. With the knowledge of the public world of politics, society, and institutions, they have lost their innocence. Both worlds are inadequate to contain their awarenesses and realizations. The only way out of this tension is to construct a new symbol system drawing from the competing symbolic and semiotic systems to create a “new language.” Hence the need for codemeshing. Multilingual writers construct an expressive mode that mixes languages and other semiotic resources to answer their identity concerns. In essence, when writers position themselves in transnational social fields, they enjoy the detachment from monolingual and territorialized language ideolo­ gies, and the family and society, to develop a critical perspective and construct new textual “homes” through creative new expressive systems. Their transnational identities require a translingual mode for representation. This orientation also suggests that identity and textual construction always involve mobility, even if one doesn’t physically migrate. We see this in the shuttling between the home and school, and family and social institutions. Such mobility has creative and resistant possibilities. The rich semiotic resources of childhood may reveal how repres­ sive and controlling the institutionalized language system is. Even those who are seden­ tary thus gain glimpses into the unruliness and fluidity of symbolic resources that they might manipulate for creative expression in their first language. Therefore, the role of mobility in identity and text construction is not limited to multilingual and interna­ tional students alone. We understand mobility, the adoption of liminal spaces, and the need for translingual practices as experienced by everyone in identity construction and communication.

56 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

Trajectories of emergence Kramsch adopts her theoretical orientation to offer a three-part trajectory in identity con­ struction. They are: desire, alienation, and subject-in-process. Desire accounts for the need to identify with the powerful symbol systems in society. Multilingual learners of English, for example, may desire to acquire the norms and identities of “native English speakers.” However, this attempt often turns out to be alienating. One cannot identify completely with another symbol system or use that system to satisfy one’s own communicative inter­ ests. And “native English speakers” may not accept a newcomer in their community as an equal. This failure will lead to alienation from the desired language. Such alienation can compel multilinguals to draw from their childhood repertoires, empowering myths, and critical language ideologies to engage in continued identity construction – which leads to subject-in-process. As Kramsch goes on to demonstrate, LAs provide multilingual students spaces for the construction of tentative “homes,” drawing from the different representational systems they are shuttling between. These texts provide models for identity resolution. This out­ come may account for the personal and engaged nature of these LAs. What motivates writers to adopt a transnational locus of enunciation and translingual subject positions is what Kramsch (2009) calls “horizons larger than oneself ” (p. 98). It emerges that these writers are motivated by a larger ethical, spiritual, and social vision that drives them to not conform to any of the available symbolic or semiotic systems but construct a new repre­ sentational world. The in-between position of becoming perennial “subjects-in-process” is motivated by this larger vision. This position is treated as a locus of strength and creativity, despite the pain and difficulties involved in detaching oneself from established worlds. Fur­ thermore, we see that the writers derive this larger vision from their childhood semiotic world. For everyone, the childhood world provides ethical, spiritual, and aesthetic values that help them resist limiting language ideologies and move toward transnational spaces and translingual dispositions. My coding of my students’ LAs unveils additional stages that can help elaborate Kramsch’s tripartite model. (The actual names of the writers are provided below, and their essays appear in Part II of this book.) Risking simplification, I delineate a trajectory that characterizes one’s emergence into translingualism. These stages are not found in every LA or in every writer. They are a compilation of the stages from all the essays I coded, in a possible chronological progression of identity positioning. I match the life context to one’s communicative experience:

1. Childhood/home: fluid semiotic resources A majority of students start their LAs narrating the expansive semiotic resources they practiced in their infancy at home. They talk about a rich range of texts that their par­ ents, grandparents, relatives, and community members socialized them into. It includes children’s literature, epics, legends, and religious scripture, in addition to oral narratives. These texts feature creative uses of language and heterogeneous semiotic resources, such as pictures, sound, color, the use of the body, voice, and rhythm. They are not tainted much by monolingual ideologies, normativity, or systematization. In this sense, they fit

Emergence of the translingual subject


the mother’s world as represented in Kramsch’s orientation. Lifeng Miao narrates how she was presented a rich mythic world of heroes and heroines who introduced her to a larger vision of life not available in the formulaic writing demanded in the school. She describes the ancient Chinese classics as including stories of 盘古 Pan Gu, the creator of the universe in Chinese mythology; 夸父 Kua Fu who chasing the sun and drank several rivers to the last drop; 嫦娥 Chang’e, the goddess in the moon, 木兰 Mulan, the daughter who fights in battles for her coun­ try instead of her old father; and 马良 Ma Liang, who helps poor people with an incredible writing brush, that whatever he draws becomes reality. All these colorful stories built a fascinating world in my childhood and filled it with nights of wonder and imagination. There were also fairy tales from the West she read at that time. However, these diverse texts did not create any linguistic or cultural segregation. She writes: Asian cultures and Western culture, in my eyes, were one as a whole. I didn’t recog­ nize myself any different from those in Western culture. In the magical world of my childhood, although I spoke Chinese at home, I showed the same intimacy towards other cultures. She goes on to discuss how these stories connected her with heavenly bodies, natural world, and the cosmos to perceive herself as part of them.

2. Childhood/elementary school: fluid semiotic resources For some, early stages of schooling also introduced them to such expansive language/lit­ eracy practices. The writers are sometimes introduced to creative literature and provided spaces for multimodal writing. Therefore, we cannot generalize schools as always part of the ideological state apparatus and dominant ideologies. These writers find that early stages of schooling did present creative uses of language and literacy that provided spaces for what might approximate a translingual ideology. Michael Chesnut describes his elemen­ tary school classroom in Canada as follows: there was always something to look at; drawings from me and other students, books, posters, the wood floor which had trapped dozens of small strange objects in its cracks, and the rest decaying nearly 70 year old classroom itself. Other students were interesting as well; chatting away or working on their story books, and occasionally French could be overheard from one of the immersion classrooms down the hall. Seeing a bookcase, the aquarium that held our class snake, and our chalk-dust laden blackboard I daydreamed into a fantasy land of alien desert worlds, giant creatures, and massive industrial machines. It is thus possible for some spaces in educational institutions, such as elementary classes, to be relatively detached from oppressive ideologies.

58 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

3. Growing up/home: L1 monolingual ideology Gradually, the monolingual ideology starts creeping into the home through the influence of educated parents or grandparents who are concerned that the children should be social­ ized into the norms of the society. They are also focused on gate-keeping institutions, such as the school and its examinations. Concerned elders encourage their children to adopt normative uses of speaking and/or writing. In some cases, as in the case of students from Islamic and Confusian backgrounds, strict norms for literacy practices come from religion. Christianity can also inculcate children into scripted reading and decontextualization practices to catch morals and truths in prescribed ways (as Heath, 1983 has documented). Writing practices can become more normative as correctness of spelling or structure is emphasized. These practices were bolstered by product-oriented pedagogies that focused on grammatical norms and formulaic writing. Such literacies are experienced whether the writers grew up in the West or outside. The narratives show the power of monolingual ideologies, together with territorializing, ownership, and puristic values. Shuo Zhao nar­ rates that since his parents and grandparents were teachers, he was quickly inducted into privileged literacy practices influenced by Marxism and Confucianism: “They represented a set of valued writing styles, for instance, observing the natural world and human society, capturing their essence, and bringing them out through lively language.”

4. Growing up/secondary school: L1 monolingual ideology As the writers proceed further in their schooling, especially as they move beyond elemen­ tary school, they are introduced to normative language uses and literacy practices informed by monolingual ideologies. In many cases, the writers recognized them as the practices associated with power and success and worked hard to master them. As a result of ideologi­ cal conditioning, some writers treat these practices as owned by their community, culture, or tradition and don’t perceive coercive effects. Therefore, they respond to them positively, without experiencing any limitations to their voice or identity. They demonstrate a sincere desire to master these practices. However, as they are introduced to even more strict forms of language use, discourses, and literacies, there is recognition of the limitations on their creativity and voice. Many students begin to experience the effects of objectivity, detachment, and structure. Some students, such as Bendi Tso, feel pressured to abandon their creative and imaginative forms of literacy they had enjoyed at home. Bendi explains the pedagogy in her school for teach­ ing Chinese as follows: Both in elementary (1995–2001) and middle school (2001–2007), my teachers would introduce or analyze the structure of an article, draw the structure on the blackboard, and then ask us to follow the structure and write a similarly structured composition. Thus begins a tension between home and school literacies for her. This was true of “native English” speaking students like Michael and Ruth also. They were introduced to formulaic and normative writing in English after their pleasurable elementary school literacies. Ruth Sauder finds her childhood world of imaginative literature suppressed in later schooling:

Emergence of the translingual subject


In middle school, academic writing replaced most opportunities for creative writing. I was somewhat disappointed, but associated more academic writing with getting older and figured that I would just have to learn to enjoy papers and essays as much as stories and mysteries.

5. Youth/social institutions: desiring the other The encounter with a second or third language occurs at diverse locations and institutions as the writers grow up. For many international students, it happens in post-primary school, often in their own countries, such as China, Argentina, or Saudi Arabia. For these students, English and other European languages are often associated with power. They are presented by local teachers (and, in rare cases, by teachers who speak that language “natively”) in normative terms. Initially, the students attempt to approximate those norms enthusiasti­ cally. As the pedagogy is often normative, the students also experience the rigor and disci­ pline in mastering the second or third European language. Shuo Zhao discusses in his LA how he felt the pressure to abandon Chinese rhetorical traditions when he encountered what was presented to him as the logical and rational discourses of English. That English is a different and superior language with more beneficial literate resources is part of the myth (bolstered by a monolingual ideology) that pressures these students to abandon the other semiotic and symbolic resources they bring from home. Some students encounter English in its normative and regimented form after migration with families or for education. Ownership ideologies add more stress to their learning as they embark on the difficult task of adopting “native English speaker” norms. Eunjeong Lee discusses how she struggled to develop an accent and style resembling that of “native English speakers” when she migrated from South Korea to the US. Usually, such pressure is also motivated by the romanticization of the other as more attractive. For Anglo-American students, the encounter with an additional language occurs in experiences of study abroad (i.e., Ruth learning French), travel (Randi learning Portu­ guese), or teaching abroad (Michael learning Korean). Though these contexts involve socialization into the language through communicative interactions and turn out to be more flexible than the product-oriented or normative pedagogies in schools, students suf­ fer from internalized ownership ideologies. They fear their inadequacies in relation to the “native speaker” as they use the language. In a rare case, Randi develops her desire to learn Portuguese through a Brazilian boyfriend in her university in the US. Her writing is a classic exemplification of the trope of desire. Similar to the narratives by Kaplan (1993) and Hoffman (1989), her desire for the language is compounded by a desire for the people who speak them, channeled by a romantic interest in a speaker of that language. For others, the additional languages suggest experiences that are exotic, as the case of French, a third language Natalia Guzman learns in Argentina.

6. Adult/beyond school: alienation At some point during the learning, students may feel alienated from the languages they have newly acquired. This is the second major stage Kramsch has identified in her model for the emergence of the translingual subject. The students gradually become disenchanted in their pursuit of developing proficiencies and identities in terms of the dominant norms

60 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

and expectations. This experience can result in a major crisis of identity or purpose for some, as they find their efforts to learn or progress called into question. This happens over time. Below are the reasons articulated in the narratives I analyzed: Constraint: Some students find the monolingual language ideologies and “native speaker” norms limiting their voice and identity. Shuo finds English writing formulaic. This is partly because his teachers presented academic writing in terms of predefined structures (such as thesis statement, topic sentences, and transitions) in product-oriented and teacherfronted instruction. He writes: “I needed to often remind myself that I could not compose my essay in a 行云流水 (‘floating clouds and flowing water’) style. My teachers of English often assigned us cloze exercises to practice using transitional markers.” Lifeng also finds that she cannot be expressive as she was in Chinese writing. However, one cannot develop total conformity to any symbolic system without losing something of one’s voice, values, and interests. The normative and controlled symbol system cannot embrace everyone’s identities and interests. Prejudice: Some students experienced biases from the speakers of the languages they were trying to learn. Some are laughed at for their difference in idiomatic usage, accent, or word choice. Ruth is corrected for her accent or pronunciation in French. These responses affect their desire to join the other language community or to construct their identities around that language. In some cases, the bias is internalized. The students fear that they can never become insiders because of their differences. In all these cases, it is the notion that identification with that speech community requires similarity/sameness that causes alienation. The speakers and the speech community members don’t consider the possibil­ ity that appropriating the additional language differently for one’s interests and voices is a viable option. Inaccessibility: For some students, their desire to identify with the language and its community is not fulfilled because they have limited access to the additional language. This is often the consequence of prejudice. “Native speakers” of that language may not provide them access to authentic or privileged language resources for learning or emula­ tion. For some international students, this lack of access stems from learning English in communities where it is not used. Their exposure is limited to that presented by their instructors, who often adopt limited pedagogical grammars for teaching purposes. Such is the case of Lifeng, who first learns English in China. The same is true for Kyoko, who first encountered English in Japan. They narrate in their LAs that the English they learned was so reductive, with rigid rules and structures, that it failed to resonate with their desired voice. Illegitimacy: Even those who feel confident in their acquisition of the additional lan­ guage can feel alienated due to experiences of illegitimacy. That is, they are made to feel that they are interlopers in the language, based on their non-native status, as marked by their physiognomy or accent. Without the proper attributes, they might be made to feel illegitimate in a language or alien in the community. In the case of someone like Randi, this feeling of illegitimacy has been internalized through ownership ideologies. In such cases, even without anyone explicitly excluding them, the students feel they are outsid­ ers or interlopers in that language. Given that monolingual and ownership ideologies are powerful and widespread, it is not surprising that some students have internalized them and feel affected in their encounter with other languages and their speakers. My own nar­ rative in the beginning of this chapter is an experience of illegitimacy. My native-speaker

Emergence of the translingual subject


interlocutor conveys to me indirectly that I should not teach English because my speech reveals my perceived “illegitimate” status in that language. Separation: As some students master one language, driven by their desire to identify with it fully, they gradually feel separated from their heritage languages. Their proficiency could decline, and speech community membership be affected. This often happens to multilingual students who are obsessed with mastering such globally dominant languages as English. Bendi, for example, experiences a psychological crisis when she suddenly real­ izes that she is alienated from the rich mythological world of Tibetan classics that she can’t read in Tibetan anymore or can read only abridged translations. Shuo feels alienated from his early rhetorical preferences: By now I am inclined to accommodating most of the English writing conventions, such as, textual structures and logic. Nevertheless, I still do not feel totally comfort­ able with detaching myself from my own writing background. Sometimes, I even feel confused and upset about distancing myself from my early writing development. This probably is the result of the many years’ practice in Chinese writing that values ‘真情实感’ (‘real sentiments’) in written products. Lifeng is also alienated from her childhood rhetorical preferences in Chinese writ­ ing that she feels the separation intensely: “Over time, I became somewhat ‘homesick.’ I missed my expressive Chinese writing. I began looking for Chinese-English translated version of books written in 散文 sanwen, my most favorite genre.”

7. Adult/beyond school: crisis This experience of alienation from their languages acquired or identities being desired leads in many cases to an identity crisis and/or psychological and social disorientation. Sub­ jects are left with feelings of inadequacy or confusion. For many like Randi, this creates an existential crisis, expressed in soul searching, questions about meaning, and doubts about life trajectories. Her romanticization of an imagined Brazilian community and efforts to master Portuguese come crashing down on an actual visit to Brazil. She learns that her Brazilian boyfriend is engaged, which sparks a self-questioning about her pursuits. Bendi also has a crisis during her graduate education in the US. The distance from home perhaps helps her defamiliarize herself from the dominant language ideologies in China and USA and compel her to realize her alienation from her native Tibetan. This leads to a profound self-searching. My own narrative suggests how the realization that I might be perceived as an illegitimate or inauthentic user of English raises questions about my identity as I fly back home, making me disillusioned about the possibility of enjoying cosmopolitan relations with “native speakers” of English and disenchanted with developing a friendship with the girl from New Zealand.

8. Adult/beyond school: epiphany However, many have a flashback to the possibilities in their childhood semiotic world, which motivates them positively for new identities and proficiencies. These are good myths with affirmative visions of life, identity, community, and communication, deriving from

62 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

spiritual, moral, and aesthetic resources in one’s background. They point to “horizons larger than oneself.” The writers consider moving beyond competing languages, dis­ courses, or communities to develop new liminal identities and affiliations. What is signifi­ cant about this larger vision provided by good myths is that it prevents these students from capitulating to narrow material or social interests in their search for identity or meaning. While economic interests can empower some learners (theorized by Norton Peirce, 1995 under the label of investment, as introduced earlier), they can also lead others to marketize their identity by passing a proficiency test or obtaining a certificate for material interests. Such a motivation can compel some to suppress their conflicts and disengage from a search for meaning and values. The larger vision that others draw from (which is not unique to them, as all of us are acquainted with such motivations and visions as part of our common humanity) can serve more ethical, resistant, and empowering forms of investment in their identity construction. It is difficult to say why some students turn to these good myths and others don’t. However, it is important to realize that all of us have access to uplifting visions and horizons larger than ourselves. For Bendi, they derive from the fairy stories read to her, and oral narratives dramatized by her grandmother. For Shuo and Lifeng, they derive from the funds of literary and cultural knowledge from home, which have introduced them to values and visions that are residual in their life. These might constitute moral teaching, social values, and spiritual traditions that provide goals that are expansive and provide meaning to the students. They belong to very diverse traditions, ranging from Tibetan myths, Chinese epics, European fairy tales, and religions such as Islam and Christianity. Perhaps the one thing that is common to all of them is that they provide a “horizon larger than oneself.” This vision takes many forms or realizations. Some writers seek forms of cosmopolitanism, connecting with other people and cultures (as in the case of Ruth and Randi, who are Anglo Americans). Some learn other languages and cultures beyond their own in search of more diverse identities. Some seek a mission in life driven by ethical concerns that involves service. For many, there is a spiritual search for meaning in life, constituting a larger goal and vision for themselves. The most poignant representation of this is in Randi Anderson’s narrative. She adopts the fairy tale about the mermaid (from Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid) to chart her own life trajectory. The story doesn’t serve only to scaffold her writing but pro­ vides a blueprint for her own identity development. The mermaid eventually learns that growing legs to become human, like the Prince she is in love with, is impossible. Randi too realizes that the way to move forward is by being grounded in her own life conditions. For Bendi, the epiphany is a reminder of her Tibetan spiritual world. Paradoxically, the new horizon involves connecting with her forgotten Tibetan roots. Though she failed to learn Tibetan, the stories her grandmother had told her remind her of a lost mythic and spiritual world she connects with. She decides to learn Tibetan late in life, after graduate school. This realization of the larger horizons beyond limiting language ideologies doesn’t hap­ pen always in one dramatic moment. It can be reinforced through small incremental acts and events in one’s life, building up to provide larger motivations and directions. There is considerable diversity in social practice that the institutional symbolic world or bad myths hide or make us misrecognize. In fact, in many cases, it is this larger vision that drives students like Ruth to learn other languages and engage with other communities in the first place. Cooney’s Miss Rumphius, which reminded her to “make the world

Emergence of the translingual subject


beautiful,” sustains her throughout her life to seek opportunities to engage with others. Ruth becomes aware very early from a Native American visitor to her school that she is occupying “their land” – thus becoming guilty and ashamed in her childhood imagina­ tion. She later engages with multilingual learners of English, admiring their resources and dispositions. Ruth realizes the larger cosmopolitan possibilities available in diversity of cul­ tures and languages through interactions with international students in her university. In these ways, she appreciates the diversity in the US itself. Later when she faces a crisis about her future, these experiences motivate her to travel to Haiti and France to study and teach. Similarly, Michael had adopted an embodied orientation to writing from his early days of schooling. When academic literacies attempt to impose disembodied practices, he is able to resist this influence and adopt broader and engaged orientations to writing. Jialei had developed an integrated orientation to literacy through visuals and imagery. She too finds sustenance and direction through this form of literacy when she finds assessment contexts in schooling that deny her this rich semiotic support.

9. Transnational social fields: translingual ideology Such “horizons larger than oneself ” motivate people to move beyond ownership ideolo­ gies, territorialization, reductive identities, and community membership and adopt a limi­ nal positioning. In some cases, this explicitly turns out to be a transnational social field. The writers seek the possibility of moving beyond languages and communities to put together hybridized identities and repertoires. This space provides them a critical detach­ ment from competing languages and cultures. They can thus discern the restricted scope of limiting language ideologies. They can also develop critical orientations on both their heritage and additional languages and cultures. For example, Randi understands the limi­ tations of language ownership by her own community of Anglo-American speakers of English and Brazilian speakers of Portuguese. For many, this space facilitates a more cos­ mopolitan disposition. Though Bendi returns to her lost Tibetan culture, she paradoxically discovers elements of cosmopolitanism there that connect her with the whole of humanity. Ruth also discovers the presence of other cultures and communities in her own American society. From this liminal positioning, writers discover values of diversity and inclusion in their native languages and cultures, resisting the restrictive ways they had been introduced to them before. Encounter with the other deconstructs one’s own symbolic system as well as that of the other. The writers discover elements of diversity and acceptance within and across systems that claimed territoriality and ownership. This ability to defamiliarize themselves from representational systems is an important benefit of liminal positioning. It also enables them to draw from diverse semiotic and symbolic systems as needed, perhaps with more criticality and agency, for the construction of alternate subject positions. Liminal positioning also enables profound reflexivity in the writers. They are able to understand their own values and interests better through this trajectory. While it is a larger vision that motivates writers like Randi and Ruth to embark on learning other languages and cultures, the subsequent disillusionment and disorientation enables them to attain even greater clarity and commitment to their goals. The writing of the LA enables all the writers to revisit their pasts and re-envision their futures. As we discussed in the previous chapters, the narrative serves as a mediational tool to facilitate reflection and criti­ cal awareness. Consider how Bendi revisits her past representing the traditional legends

64 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

narrated by her grandmother, which she had abandoned in favor of Chinese and English. After her encounter with these more powerful languages, she develops a renewed interest in the semiotics of her past, regrets not learning Tibetan so that she can gain better access to that mythic world, and commits herself to learning her heritage language. For all these students, the return to their childhood world is accompanied with a new vision, shaped by their encounter with the adult world of social institutions. They understand their child­ hood, family, or home in more complex ways on their return. The home is not the same anymore, after one has peeked into social institutions. Hence the difficulty in finding com­ fort in the mythic childhood world. One has to recreate one’s world through the shards of both the family’s and society’s representational systems. However, occupying such liminal spaces is not always easy. The price is the lack of stable and permanent representational systems or homes.

10. Liminal spaces: becoming All writers treat self-invention as ongoing. In terms of literacy, they consider their writing style and language repertoires as always in formation. Though they end their narratives without closure, they demonstrate clarity and direction. They see paths forward and dis­ cuss how they are enriched by their experience with diverse languages, semiotic systems, and language ideologies. To add to my examples of Ruth, Randi, and Kyoko earlier, con­ sider Jing Jing’s conclusion after a stifling experience of learning English writing: Though still struggling, I am open to new ways of presenting myself in English, such as inserting a poetic or flowery introduction, trying new words, and using stories in argumentation. To play within the established framework, I pay attention to making the organization more explicit for North American audience. For example, I some­ times repeat the thesis statement, and add transition words between paragraphs or different ideas, to sign post my ideas. When I use a story to imply an idea, instead of leaving the audience to figure out the meaning, I try to clearly explain how the story illustrates the principle or idea. [. . .] I gradually realized that neither my L1 nor L2 writing style are problems. They are the resources for my solutions. I can appropriate the rhetorical differences to write for audiences from different academic communi­ ties. Instead of passively surrendering to what is “right”, I can choose how to write my way, and this can also work well. Though Jing Jing prefers to experiment further, she does articulate some ways forward. The in-between position also helps the writers develop new dispositions, constituting new values and identities that are more egalitarian, ethical, and inclusive. In this sense, the subject in process is not an inconsequential position. There are qualitative changes for the people concerned. The writers are becoming new people at every step. Randi confesses that at each iteration of her LA she could see the development of new awareness and dis­ positions in herself. Ruth’s quest to make the world more beautiful gains more traction, even though she has miles to travel further to realize her quest. Bendi’s awareness translates into practical differences in her educational trajectory. She becomes a different person, accommodating her Tibetan identity into her layering of Chinese name, culture, and edu­ cation on top of those acquired from English. She also develops a new appreciation of her

Emergence of the translingual subject


heritage. She demonstrates new dispositions that enable her to respect and actively draw from what the Tibetan community has to offer. To this mix, we have to add the new reali­ zations these writers acquire of more practical ends such as teaching language or writing more effectively. They become teachers, students, and writers with greater metacognitive awareness. It is in this context that we must understand the role of LAs and other symbolic arti­ facts. They are significant for providing these students opportunities and spaces to engage in reflection and self-construction. They are not only spaces for reflexivity, as these spaces enable them to revisit their experiences with representational systems. They also provide an opportunity to produce a tangible new product with a mix of representational resources that can provide direction for their “becoming.” They provide temporary textual homes. The writing is performative in the sense that the text demonstrates the ways diverse semi­ otic and symbolic systems are brought together by writers to resolve their conflicts. It is not surprising that such writing is often codemeshed, and linguistically and rhetori­ cally very creative. Each attempt at an LA might provide different discourses and models of one’s identities. In this sense, the identities that students construct at different points through various LAs might show different stages of one’s awareness development. They are qualitatively different and rich, marking critical stages in one’s trajectory (as I will recount through my own changes, in the final chapter). Yet, it is important to acknowledge that the travel or quest never ends, as all the authors repeatedly emphasize.

Pedagogical implications As we can see from the analysis of the LAs of my students, when writers adopt a trans­ national social field that is liminal, between communities and languages, they see the possibility of making new textual homes that are codemeshed. We thus see how transna­ tionalism and translingualism are interconnected. Liminal spaces provide scope for detach­ ment from limiting language ideologies; connect writers with larger horizons for meaning making, identity construction, and writing; and facilitate the creativity that goes beyond existing language systems to construct new textual homes. Finding a surrender to exist­ ing language systems limiting, transnational writers resolve to appreciate the fluidity of semiotic resources and renew their identities and vision through linguistic experimenta­ tion as subjects-in-process. They cannot return to their first language, culture, or family discourses because their new repertoires and ideological conflicts pose new communica­ tive and ideological challenges. These creative tensions cannot be resolved by seeking refuge in limiting territorialized languages or ideologies. For this reason, transnational writers are also dissatisfied with nationalist ideologies, labeled languages, and normative communication. This analysis helps us understand the trajectories in this identity progression, unveiling the features that make up the trope of becoming. It is important to note that my analysis doesn’t draw strict cause/effect connections. It is difficult to predict what motivates writers to adopt, ignore, or refuse a translingual subject-in-process status. There is a confluence of ideological and personal factors involved in this trajectory, the mix of which might be hard to predict. This question might be especially important for teachers who want to facilitate such linguistic and rhetorical positions among their students. However, the analysis above does leave us with some lessons for consideration, as I articulate below.

66 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

It is clear that the larger horizons students bring with them from their childhood or extra-school sites of socialization provide the ethical and/or ideological investments that help them resist the controlling semiotic systems. It helps them stay committed to a larger vision for identities, community, and communication, not resorting to easy answers or solutions. It is possible that paralleling limiting ideologies, there are also inclusive and empowering ideologies (i.e., good myths) in all contexts and communities. What this realization suggests is that developing transnational identities is an ideological enter­ prise. Fundamentally, it involves deconstructing the evil myths, being reminded of good myths, and becoming comfortable with constructing identities and repertoires that are more inclusive and critical. Teachers can consider how they can help students remain committed to larger communicative, social, and identity goals as they learn languages and literacies. In some sense, this is a question of reminding students of the rich semi­ otic resources they bring from their homes and communities, which represent a diverse and ethical vision of life, informed by resistant and inclusive myths. In this sense, the pedagogical goal is not about introducing new ideologies to students but helping them tap into the “funds of knowledge” they bring from outside the classroom (see Gonzalez et al., 2005). Such a pedagogy could also mean reminding students of the experiences and resources they bring from transnational social fields. The shuttling they have already been doing between languages in these spaces has endowed them with a habitus, dis­ positions, and discourses that can help them negotiate new symbolic/language systems. Teachers can also unveil the ideologies informing the desired symbolic systems so that students draw from them selectively for their transnational identities and voices. In many ways, this is the project of critical pedagogies. Such a pedagogy amounts to awarenessraising among students to encourage reflexivity and detachment for new hybridities. It can also involve deconstructing dominant language ideologies and limiting myths to expose their ulterior interests and implications. Note that this orientation involves seeing students as resourceful, bringing with them the repertoires and competencies for their self-fashioning. Rather than teaching forms and conventions in a product-oriented man­ ner, this pedagogy involves letting students discover their styles and texts in relation to their trajectories. I will discuss in Chapter 5 how I have managed to construct classroom spaces for such pedagogies.

Coda Before I conclude, I wish to return to my story narrated in the beginning of the chap­ ter. My disorientation deriving from the contact with “native English speakers” and their ownership of English set me off on a search for a multilingual identity. The encounter in India with my friend from New Zealand shattered my mythical world of inclusiveness and harmony. I was made to feel like an outsider. This was a case of being judged illegitimate in English language and excluded from the wider English-speaking community. It was easy for me to resist the “native English speaker” identity and community. I was too deeply rooted in my own community to find it attractive. Therefore, I didn’t enjoy an integra­ tive motivation of trying to master “native speaker” varieties of English appealing. Since I had no possibilities of traveling to the West at that time, I also didn’t consider my use of English as a means of joining “native English speaker” communities in the UK or USA. I developed a resistance to “native speaker” ownership. However, my temptation was to

Emergence of the translingual subject


find comfort in an alternative form of nativism. Though I didn’t think of abandoning English, I was tempted to romanticize the local form of English, appropriated according to local values and norms affiliated with Tamil language and culture. I found that my own accent and idiomatic uses constituted a creativity that brought a difference to English, while indexing my own identities and values. However, this option didn’t constitute a translingual practice. It was a stage of appropriation or resistance from a local Sri Lankan Tamil location. It belonged to another limiting nationalistic ideology from the periphery. It is not transnational, as it clearly treats my Sri Lankan Tamil community and its traditions as superior. It is much later, after I migrated to the United States for graduate studies, that I encoun­ tered even more diverse Englishes and semiotic resources that moved me to a transnational social field. As my positioning changed, I also developed more expanded horizons for my identity and writing. I was reminded of my religious upbringing and later resistant social ideologies stemming from my life in an underdeveloped community to discover “horizons larger than oneself.” Such a transnational positioning shows the dynamics of an ongoing shuttling between languages, communities, and identities to embrace in-between posi­ tions. I began to discover elements for cosmopolitanism and translingualism within my own community and its traditions. The Tamil epigraph for this chapter can be roughly translated as “All places are my village; all people my kin.” A line from 2000-year-old poetry by கண ியை் பூங் குை்றைாை,் it has become proverbial in the community. Though I was chauvinistic earlier, treating Tamil identity as exclusive and superior, I now realized that my positioning was based on a limited ideology. The transnational space ena­ bled me to see that my own language and culture had elements that were inclusive and cosmopolitan. It is recently that I have begun to adopt codemeshing and translingual prac­ tice in my writing. I am still experimenting rhetorically to find new textual possibilities and more empowering voices for myself.

References Bhabha, H. K. (1999). Interview: Staging the politics of difference: Homi Bhabha’s critical literacy. In G.A. Olson & L.Worsham (Eds.), Race, rhetoric, and the postcolonial (pp. 3–42).Albany: SUNY Press. Canagarajah, A. S. (2013a). Translingual practice: Global Englishes and cosmopolitan relations. Abingdon: Routledge. Canagarajah, A. S. (2013b). Negotiating translingual literacy: An enactment. Research in the Teaching of English, 48(1), 40–67. Fishman, J. A. (1990). What is reversing the language shift (RLS) and how can it succeed? Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 11, 5–36. Foucault, M. (1991). Governmentality. In G. Burchell, C. Gordon, & P. Miller (Eds.), The Foucault effect: Studies in governmentality (pp. 87–104). Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press. Foucault, M. (2004). Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1974–1975. New York: Picador. Gardner, R. C. (1985). Social psychology and second language learning: The role of attitudes and motivation. London: Edward Arnold. Gonzalez, N., Moll, L., & Amanti, C. (2005). Funds of knowledge. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with words. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hoffman, E. (1989). Lost in translation. New York: Penguin Books. Kaplan, A. (1993). French lessons:A memoir. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Kramsch, C. (2009). The multilingual subject. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

68 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

Kristeva, J. (1986). Revolution in poetic language. In T. Moy (Ed.), The Kristeva reader (pp. 89–136). New York: Columbia University Press. Kroskrity, P. (Ed.). (2000). Regimes of language: Ideologies, polities, and identities. Oxford: James Currey. Lacan, J. (1977). Ecrits: A selection (A. Sheridan,Trans.). New York:W.W. Norton & Co. Norton Peirce, B. (1995). Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly, 29(1), 9–31.


Since the main contribution to the academic life in the local context was in Tamil I had to write in the vernacular in order to show the relevance of my scholarship at home. In an essay on contemporary Tamil poetry, I adopted my newly learnt1 writing skills from my American graduate school. For example, my introduction followed a move typical of the well-established CARS model (standing for “Creating a Research Space” as formulated by John Swales). I outlined my purpose in that essay, defined how my contribution differed from existing scholarship, indicated the structure of my argument, and spelt out my thesis statement. My colleagues who rarely indulged in meta talk on writing styles, were suddenly quite vocal in expressing their disappointment. Even some of my students came up to me and said that the introductory paragraph had sounded a bit too pompous and over-confident. They explained that in the vernacular tradition (in lectures if not in writing) one opens with an avai aTakkam (i.e., humbling oneself in the court). The speaker starts with a brief confession of his/her limitations, praises the knowl­ edge of the audience, and attributes whatever knowledge he might develop in his/her talk to others (i.e., elders, teachers, God). As the term avai (court) reveals, this rhetorical practice must have developed in feudal times. But the ethos of the scholar/rhetor is still influenced considerably by such an attitude. My cocksure way of beginning the essay – announcing my thesis, delineating the steps of my argument, promising to prove my points conclusively – left another bad taste in the local readership. They said that this excessively planned and calculated move gave the impression of a “style-less,” mechanical writing. Although I had attempted this mode of writing half-mischievously, I understood that a better strategy was to find ways of encoding the planned/disciplined/organized ways of writing without putting off my readers by sounding self-conscious, self-centered, or self-confident. (Canagarajah, 2001, pp. 31–32). That was another episode in my learning trajectory, as narrated in my first LA. Though we have narratives on how texts from the geopolitical periphery fare poorly when they migrate to communities in the center (see Blommaert, 2008), we don’t have many pub­ lished narratives in the reverse direction. In fact, discussions on the migration of texts have been dominated by the difficulty for periphery literacy and language conventions to succeed in the center. The term “peripheral normativity” (Blommaert, 2010, p. 82) was coined to refer to the purportedly innocent view of underprivileged communities that what is normative locally will succeed everywhere. Local communities are also considered

70 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

unable to recognize or master norms from elsewhere. Blommaert argues that the unequal power relations geopolitically suggest that while periphery texts and literacy practices will fail to receive uptake elsewhere, those of more developed communities will enjoy translocal currency. This view is based on the assumption that the norms and values of the privileged transcend space and time constraints. Blommaert treats them as “high mobility resources” (2010, p. 12). What this excerpt from my LA shows is that the norms of privileged Western coun­ tries also don’t travel freely to gain universal appreciation. They are as “local” as those in periphery communities. These norms derive from practices and traditions local to the privileged communities and could be peripheral to the interests and practices of other communities. My use of conventions associated with English writing didn’t enjoy intelligi­ bility or ready appreciation among my Tamil colleagues. The power associated with center norms makes people treat them as universal. We have to therefore consider the mobility of texts and literacies as requiring negotiation everywhere. We cannot assume that certain types of literacy are naturally superior and universal. Furthermore, it is also condescending to assume that underprivileged communities with local norms might find it difficult to negotiate or appreciate other texts and literacies from elsewhere. Though it is evident that my colleagues and students in Jaffna have their own values and preferences, it is wrong to assume that they can’t rise above them to negotiate texts that travel from elsewhere. They perhaps assumed that I would choose the norms familiar to us in the local setting. Take me as an example. Though I come from this Sri Lankan community, socialized into its practices, I was “half-mischievously” adopting the norms from the center. This means that I was able to rise above both center and periphery norms in my writing practice to playfully experiment with different styles. I narrate how I meshed discourses from diverse commu­ nities in my future writing after this initial “experiment.” The fact that I am adopting in Tamil those practices associated with English and learned in the US suggests that literacies are not tied rigidly to separate languages and communities. There is considerable mobility and fluidity in literacy practices. Though my compatriots have their own tastes and prefer­ ences, they are not strangers to texts or practices from outside, especially from English and the West – perhaps through my own writing, such as the one I narrate above. Such mobility of texts and negotiations for meaning have always been there in history. The dominant orientations to literacy have not acknowledged or studied them effectively. The focus on transnational social fields has unveiled these textual migrations in a more pronounced way and called for fresh theorization. Often the challenge for readers and writers is that they are influenced by the limited definitions of literacy, such that they don’t respond effectively to texts from elsewhere. Through a theorization of negotiation strategies, we can develop in students more explicit and practiced ways of engaging with foreign texts. Though transnational literacy problematizes the dominant ways of reading and writing, we shouldn’t think of the new theorization as relating to a special kind of literacy. What emerges is true of all literacy. All texts are mobile across space and time in both their production and reception. All texts are also implicated in diversity and contact, requiring negotiation for meaning. There is nothing self-evident, transparent, or homo­ geneous about texts, as if they stand free of interpretation or negotiation across contexts. In this chapter, I will first examine the dominant orientations to literacy – i.e., autono­ mous literacy and social literacy – and the way they deal with mobile (or traveling and bordercrossing) texts. I will then articulate an alternate orientation, negotiated literacy, that helps us

Negotiation strategies in literacy


address better the ways texts gain meaning in contexts of mobility, contact, and diversity. I draw from a range of studies to develop this model. They are: my own classroom obser­ vations on students from diverse parts of the world negotiating their literacy practices, especially in their construction of LAs; empirical studies on language contact in the fields of applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, and literacy; and scholarship in rhetoric on effective practices in communicative diversity. After the theoretical articulation of negotiated lit­ eracy, I narrate how my students and I “discovered” and developed these literacy practices from the ground up in an academic writing course. The narrative will help me illustrate these practices and further analyze them as I continue my theorization of transnational literacy.

Dominant orientations to literacy What Brian Street (1984) labeled autonomous literacy – i.e., a practice of isolating the text in reading/writing relationships – has marked “modern” orientations to texts and literacy, informed by assumptions and values that have undergirded other parallel movements such as European enlightenment, modernity, science, and Western civilization. It is inspired by the theorization of such classicists as Goody (1977) and Havelock (1982) that the emer­ gence of alphabetic writing in Greek civilization marked an important shift in cognition, communication, and social progress. In enabling human beings to physically represent their thoughts, alphabets were considered to introduce the advantages of decontextual­ ization. Thus, alphabetic literacy was theorized as enabling detached rational thinking and objective truth, which facilitated science, technology, and modernity. The treatment of written literacy as superior to orality, for those reasons, gave way to reading/writing practices that preserved the virtues of decontextualization. In literature, the school of New Criticism cultivated the art of separating the text from the writer’s intentions (labeled “intentional fallacy”) and reader’s biases (i.e., “affective fallacy”) in the cultivation of close reading (see Wimsatt & Beardsley, 1954). These fallacies effectively cut loose the text from social and material contexts and made it stand alone in communicating meaning. Compo­ sition scholars and teachers have also been influenced by autonomous literacy and trained students to represent ideas as clearly as possible, in self-standing texts that would eliminate ambiguities and vagueness in meaning. Such views comport well with the conduit model of communication that has been popular in many fields (see for a critical discussion, Pratt, 1987). According to this model, meaning travels from the writer’s mind to the reader’s mind through the text, unfiltered by any other mediating influences. Such a view of a selfstanding artifact capable of conveying objective meaning, and reading/writing practices that can capture meanings accurately, assumed that textual representation will be the same in any time or space. The label autonomous literacy suggests that texts can represent universal meanings unaffected by historical, geographical, and social contingencies. If reading and writing were so simple, this model would provide the ideal condition for the mobility of texts. However, ethnographers such as Street (1984) and Heath (1983) have challenged this model through their socially situated close observations of literacy practices in diverse communities. They demonstrated how local literacy practices are divergent and influenced by the ways of life of the respective communities. Texts and literacy practices emerge as embedded in the social histories and collaborative work of those communities. From

72 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

this perspective, texts are not autonomous but gain their meaning and shape from social practices. How texts are written and read, and how they are valued and interpreted, are connected to a community’s ways of life, work, and communication. Therefore, social practices are given more importance than the self-standing artifact in the construction of meaning. Such findings have shaped an alternate orientation, called ideological literacy (because texts are informed by values and power relationships) or social literacies (because texts are situated in community practices). The plural in “literacies” emphasizes that peo­ ple’s textual practices are diverse. In the light of this alternate model, we have broadened our understanding of literacies. Included in social practices are conversations around a text. As texts gain their meaning from talk, the separation of literacy from orality has been questioned. As the social litera­ cies model extended its focus to texts in diverse modalities beyond the printed page, we are also becoming sensitive to texts as multimodal, where words participate with visu­ als, sound, objects, and diverse semiotic resources beyond the alphabet. The rise of digi­ tal technology and social media has added to the complexity of literacy. These literacies require diverse sensibilities beyond the visual to gain meaning. Such developments have led to the coining of another label: new literacies (see Cope & Kalantizis, 2000). In the place of the universalism informing autonomous literacy, we are introduced to a healthy pluralism. We now recognize that the claim of objectivity in meaning making leads to an imposition of the interpretation of dominant social groups, suppressing the alternate reading practices of diverse communities. De Certeau (1984) therefore aptly relabels autonomous literacy as scriptural literacy, suggesting the orthodoxy and normativity in literacy practices in religions. While situating texts in social contexts is an important scholarly contribution, social literacies approaches leave open significant questions relating to textual mobility. What about texts that travel from one community to the other? A possible answer is that they will be appropriated by each community according to its local practices. For example, in Heath’s (1983) ethnography, the Bible is read differently by the working-class white and black communities of Roadville and Trackton, respectively, according to their ways of life. Trackton recreates the Bible according to its experiences and values and creatively personalizes its meanings. Roadville decontextualizes the scripture to explicate morals and maxims from the passages, motivated by its routinized life style. Its reading is more scripted compared to Trackton, whose life is more fluid. These practices suggest how the Bible is embedded into the space/time orientations of both communities. However, there is no discussion in Heath’s analysis that the texts in the Bible come from another time and place, requiring an engagement with its otherness. One might say that the narratives and discourses of the Bible are considerably informed by the Semitic cultures dating from the evolution of many of the books. While texts are appropriated and meanings reconstructed by communities, texts and languages also have a material life. The otherness of the text can be recalcitrant and, in fact, change the practices and values of communities. The text/community relationship is not one-sided, favoring the community. The text can also reshape social networks and material ecologies. For example, consider how my Sri Lankan Tamil community related to the Bible since around the 16th century when European missionaries introduced it. The interpretations by Europeans shaped the discourses that accompanied the Bible in our land. There is a power inequality here as the interpretations of the missionaries were presented as authoritative to local people. These discourses have affected my local Tamil Christian

Negotiation strategies in literacy


community in many ways. Into the Hindu worldview of circular time and history, the Bible introduced a teleological perspective with expectations of gradual progress toward an end time, with local people adopting a more pragmatic orientation toward achieving progress. Colonial ideologies – i.e., that those in power enjoy divine appointment and they have to be accepted without questioning – were also supported by biblical interpretations. However, some among us also read resistant messages into the scripture, motivating us to question the power of the missionaries and colonists. The suffering of Christ and his sensitivity to the poor have a special resonance for us, making our reading different from the triumphalist readings that still influence “prosperity theology” in the West. There is, therefore, a dynamic relationship between the Bible and the communities renegotiating its meanings. From this perspective, we might think of the text as a contact zone. The Bible becomes a site where multiple interpretations from its changing histories in diverse com­ munities get played out. The materiality of the text also contributes to its otherness, generating alternate mean­ ings. The psalms and parables are now written and are no longer available in their original oral form. Even though translated into Tamil, the language is archaic, giving the Bible a different aura. The bulky text of 66 books is unlike any contemporary smaller and color­ ful books we read. The characters, cultures, and places are also very distant and alien. We negotiate these differences with exploratory strategies to consider if we can move closer to their conditions. Though we also appropriate the text according to our local literacy and social practices, as social literacy models theorize, this interpretive process is not a onesided exercise. We are open to a two-way negotiation of letting the materiality of the Bible also engage us. The negotiations I articulate above present other challenges to the social literacies model. Note that scholars in the early waves of this movement (Street, 1984; Heath, 1983) treated the community as bounded, coming with its own values and practices, both social and literate. However, the advent of the Bible has generated diversity within my Sri Lan­ kan Tamil community, perhaps accentuating the differences already there. There are now community members who adopt both circular and teleological views of history and others who adopt either as situationally relevant (see Daniel, 1983). Mobility of texts (such as the Bible) and ongoing mobility of people (continuing from before and after coloniza­ tion) have increased contact and diversification of the community. In Heath’s ethnography, migrant blacks are treated as marginal to the life of the Trackton community. Also, the possible contact between working-class white and black communities in workplaces is not made much of. Communities are treated as bounded and homogeneous. The potential for cross fertilization of values is thus not considered in the ethnography. The practice of textual negotiations suggests that power differences may not be too static or rigid. The contact between different literacy practices and communicative norms might engender new texts and genres, even without the conscious effort of communities. That is how Pratt (1991) theorizes the creative potential of contact even in contexts of power inequalities. More importantly, scholars are also theorizing the “everyday convivi­ ality” of people in contact zones, as people engage more harmoniously with the norms of each other (Mao, 2010). These transnational encounters are engendering new ethics of cosmopolitanism and diversity whereby people are engaging with more tolerance, under­ standing, and reflexivity with other communities and communicative norms, even within structures of power difference. Informed by such realizations, I depart slightly from social

74 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

literacies to articulate a different notion of literacy, which I call negotiated literacy. Though this model was initially formulated to address the challenges characteristic of transnational textual encounters (Canagarajah, 2013b), it is in fact typical of all literacy interactions. We have to keep in mind, as discussed earlier, that mobility is not exceptional but always present in social and material life.

Theorizing negotiated literacy While previous models assume shared norms for meaning making in literacy practices (either within or across communities), negotiated literacy accounts for meaning mak­ ing when communities and texts bring together different norms and conventions. Note that autonomous literacy assumes homogeneous norms and conventions being used by all communities to decode a uniform meaning in texts. Social literacies consider the shared norms of each local community as helping it appropriate the text according to its practices. However, mobility accentuates diversity. As we saw above, the conventions of good writ­ ing that I brought from the United States were interpreted differently in Sri Lanka. What we learn from communicative encounters in such transnational contact zones is that inter­ locutors don’t expect shared norms (of grammar), forms (such as genre expectations), or practices (of how to read and write) but negotiate their difference (see Canagarajah, 2007). In order to do this, they must be ready to move beyond their own localized and habituated meaning-making practices, which I label “integrated” following Schatzky (1996, p. 98). These are practices that have sedimented over time, based on a community’s history of literate activity. Such are the practices discussed in the social literacies approach. For engagement with texts and communities in transnational mobility, people adopt more exploratory and less sedimented practices, which Schatzky (1996, p. 91) labels “dis­ persed.” They are informed by what Ratcliffe (1999) calls a “code of cross-cultural con­ duct” (p. 195). What my research shows is that these are strategies designed to engage with the otherness of the text or interlocutor (Canagarajah, 2013b). Such strategies situate the text in expansive spatial and temporal contexts of its circulation to understand words/texts in the fullest possible ecology. Dispersed practices involve all parties in the interaction negotiating the text or semiotic resources with equal footing, demonstrating solidarity and collaboration in meaning making, though they might enjoy power inequalities in relation to other scales of consideration. As they can’t rely only on verbal/grammatical resources (which might not be shared), they are open to adopting diverse semiotic resources, includ­ ing gestures, objects, multiple modalities, and the materiality of the text. They also engage in a full-bodied and multisensory response to text, going beyond the traditional focus on words as visual or auditory media for a cerebral processing of meaning. More impor­ tantly, they adopt a reflexive orientation, being self-critical and exploring their own values, norms, and assumptions that they might employ to interpret the other. Negotiated literacy also treats the text’s materiality as a resource and as an architecture for meaning making. That is, it treats textual resources as an assemblage for meaning. Meanings are not predefined, with indexicalities of semiotic resources treated as precon­ structed. We treat them as constructed in and through negotiation, emerging through the act of meaning making. Though certain genres and semiotic resources do come with sedimented meanings, interlocutors keep these expectations open for situated negotiation. This performative approach to literacy is different from the traditional approach of trying to

Negotiation strategies in literacy


extricate a predefined textual representation. Furthermore, rather than treating the text as an autonomous spatial construct representing an arrangement of words, negotiated literacy considers the text as ecological, embedded into complex social, material, and temporal net­ works. The meanings of the text move beyond the literal to include the aesthetic, rhetori­ cal, affective, and metonymic. Taking into account such considerations, negotiated literacy defines the text as co-constructed in time and space – with parity for readers and writers in the ongoing shaping of meaning and form – thus performed rather than preconstructed, making the material, multimodal, and multisensory dimensions of the text fully realized. That transnational literacies bring into prominence such negotiation strategies shouldn’t be taken to mean that they constitute a special kind of literacy. These strategies are needed for all literacy events. All interactions are unpredictable and involve trave­ ling texts, languages, and discourses. The traditional emphasis on homogeneity ignores many subtle forms of difference within a social collective. It also ignores the contact members of a collective have with others and how they are shaped by these contacts to develop diverse identities and values. Furthermore, texts are never static and stable. There is always mobility involved, whether of local and limited scales or beyond. Consider how a text I wrote yesterday in Starbucks for a reading by my students in a classroom today already involves mobility. We have to ask what the change of spatial location does to the way the text is now interpreted. Similarly, we have to ask whether there are traces of yesterday’s conditions in the discourses that gain resonance under today’s conditions. There are always spatial and temporal migrations that problematize the uptake of the text. Therefore, there is a need for exploratory, or dispersed, strategies in all literacy encounters. However, in ongoing and situated interactions, there is a possibility for certain practices to become sedimented and evolve into shared practices for some social groups. At that point, they become integrated practices. Even then, it behooves community members to keep their minds open to unpredictability and not take recourse in their integrated prac­ tices for every textual encounter.

Negotiation strategies Based on my observations on how students negotiate texts in classrooms, and drawing from sociolinguistic and applied linguistics studies on language contact (see for a review Canagarajah, 2013b), I have classified these strategies into four types. I have labeled them envoicing, entextualization, recontextualization, and interactional. As I continue to study mobile texts in transnational contexts of classrooms and professional domains, I am further refining my classifications and definitions. I’ll introduce the four strategies briefly before I narrate how they work in a literacy event. Some of these strategies, such as entextualiza­ tion and recontextualization, are well studied in applied linguistics (see Briggs & Bauman, 1992). I am borrowing them for my purposes with slight modifications. As the nominali­ zations imply, these constructs have been largely used in an impersonal way to consider the changes texts go through in their production, circulation, and reception. For example, entextualization captures the diverse textual and ecological resources that go into the con­ struction of the text. Recontextualization refers to the changes in meanings and values of texts in the successive new contexts they are placed or read. In keeping with this orienta­ tion, I have also chosen the other two terms – envoicing and interactional – to focus on the processes involved in text construction and reception. Envoicing refers to identities

76 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

represented by the text or writers. Interactional refers to the social interactions surround­ ing meaning-making practices. Though some literacy processes exceed human control, especially in macro-level spati­ otemporal scales of consideration, others demonstrate social negotiations at relatively local levels. Therefore, I consider also how these processes play out in face-to-face literacy inter­ actions. While I have defined and illustrated these strategies with seemingly unqualified human agency in the past (Canagarajah, 2013b), I have since developed an appreciation of the materiality and spatiality of communication that accommodate the agency of objects and other non-human actants. These strategies call for a more qualified, negotiated, and responsive orientation to human agency. I treat agency in communication and activity as evolving from people’s ability to position themselves strategically in relation to situated contingencies. Agency means our ability to act strategically within the available constraints and affordances, along the lines of scholars in material rhetorics who articulate forms of emplacement (Pigg, 2014) or attunement (Rickert, 2013). Therefore, in my illustration below, I will demonstrate how readers and writers adopt strategic practices to negotiate texts within and in tune with the relevant communicative ecologies. Let me explain these strategies before I demonstrate how participants in a classroom literacy interaction practiced them and developed further proficiency in them. First, envoic­ ing addresses the notion that texts are not simply conveying literal information, with only the denotational meaning of words. Texts are also about values, affect, and identities. As Bakhtin (1986) has reminded us, there is no language use without voice. To communicate is to populate words and texts with one’s interests and values. This process is especially challenging in the case of multilingual writers who would envoice the texts in relation to the diverse languages they speak and the values from their mobility. Therefore, they need to renegotiate the norms of dominant literacies with creativity and criticality. A key consideration in such envoicing processes is indexicality. That is, the textual and social pro­ cesses involved in words (and other semiotic resources) pointing to meanings. Both readers and writers have to adopt reciprocal strategies to give these diverse and perhaps atypical semiotic resources meaning. Writers have to be mindful of their readers achieving positive and successful uptake of semiotic resources they may not share with their readers. Readers also have to be open to the new norms and meanings emerging from the semiotic resources to give voice to the text. Note that beyond the writer’s voice, texts embody diverse other voices inherent in text production and continual circulation, belonging to various partici­ pants and discourses, which readers and writers have to negotiate in giving voice to the text. A strategy that helps in envoicing textual resources is recontextualization. It is accom­ plished by framing and footing, which are terms introduced by Goffman (1981). Writ­ ers indicate the way they frame the text (i.e., in terms of the genre and social conditions explaining the shape of the text) and the footing (i.e., positioning of readers and writers in relation to each other and toward the text) for suitable uptake in changing settings. Gumperz’s (1992) contextualization cues might be interpreted as linguistic, textual, and semiotic pointers to the assumed framing and footing for the text. Beyond the author’s effort, these cues might be shaped also by the history and ecology of the text. For example, when audiences in an American university might readily assume certain established norms in academic writing (i.e., that the essay should adopt dominant genre conventions of lin­ ear/detached writing and be written in “standard written English” – or SWE; see Lu &

Negotiation strategies in literacy


Horner, 2013 for use of this term), a multilingual writer will find it strategic to signal to them his/her intentions of adopting more diverse Englishes and alternate genre conven­ tions. Readers have to be similarly sensitive to the recontextualization of the text from its previous contexts of spatiotemporal circulation to negotiate it appropriately. In fact, recontextualization is an inherent part of all texts. As words from one text are reused in another (in the form of quotation or citation), or the words of someone are reported, these semiotic resources are being recontextualized. Similarly, as the text migrates to new places and times, it is getting further recontextualized. Both readers and writers have to attune to such changes of contexts and conditions in negotiating meaning. Entextualization is the process by which diverse resources get woven into a text (see Prior, 1998 for a demonstration). Writers may strategically embed chosen semiotic resources for resistant meanings. In this more personal and agentive use, entextualization refers to con­ figuring the spatial and temporal arrangement of the text (i.e., the different sections and textual spaces, sequence in which the text unfolds, etc.) to achieve desired indexicality and favorable uptake. We have to ask which resources are used, where, and how. Read­ ers entextualize the meaning through the strategies and processes they adopt to align the semiotic resources and textual ecologies in relevant contexts. They have to be sensitive to both the writers’ strategies and the influences from the mobility of the text in entextual­ izing meanings. Finally, interactional refers to the strategies that readers and writers adopt to negotiate meanings with each other via the text. Dispositions such as a willingness to negotiate, tolerance, patience, reflexivity, and conviviality inform these strategies. A key feature of interactional strategies is alignment (see Atkinson, Churchill, Nishino, & Okada, 2007). The term refers to the way readers and writers have to align their footing with each other, in relation to the semiotic resources they bring with them, and the diverse material factors in the environment (featuring different scales of consideration, from the more immediate to the distant) to construct meaning. Alignment suggests that there is never a complete fit between the resources one has, the contextual conditions, and textual requirements for meaning making. The fit has to be achieved strategically. This strategy brings to the fore the constraints we face in transnational literacy. The languages and semiotic resources one uses may not be shared by others. Here’s where emplacement becomes relevant. If alignment is agentive, emplacement is less so. Readers have to emplace themselves in the ecology of relevant texts, semiotic resources, and material conditions to let them shape their extex­ tualization. Similarly, writers have to remember that meaning making is not fully under one’s control. They have to be prepared for a give and take in meaning making, where their communicative objectives achieve qualified uptake. We will distinguish between dispersed/exploratory practices and integrative/sedimented practices under interactional strategies. We must remember that these negotiation strategies are related and influence each other. Their separate labeling above is to help analytical and teaching purposes. Further­ more, we have to think of these negotiations as ongoing. As readers and writers negotiate the text, they should recalibrate their strategies according to the demands and progression of the interactions. Writers often revise their texts in relation to the uptake of the readers, and readers change their interpretive strategies in relation to their evolving understanding of the text. In this sense, these strategies are also reciprocal. Readers and writers change their footing and framing of texts in relation to the contextualization cues of writers, while

78 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

writers might revise their entextualization of drafts in relation to the previous uptake of the readers. Such awareness should motivate us to adopt an expansive orientation to mean­ ing making, treating writing or interpretation as involving multiple iterations. Failed or unsuccessful negotiations can give way to more positive uptake in later iterations. How­ ever, failed negotiations should be acknowledged. Some interlocutors may refuse to nego­ tiate, preferring to insist on imposing their own meanings on texts and participants. Often, this is an exercise of their power. Refusal to negotiate is itself performative of the mean­ ing one intends to convey. Therefore, these negotiation strategies are not guaranteed to always produce convivial meaning construction. They help us analyze the strategies behind diverse outcomes in meaning making. Such a perspective on literacy would shift our focus from bounded texts to zones and practices of negotiation. Rather than focusing on the text is isolation, we would focus on the material ecologies and social networks that come into contact in the production, circulation, and reception of the text. The focus would be on the processes, practices, and procedures involved in meaning making and not on the textual artifact alone. Note that the primary focus of autonomous literacy was on the text, with human negotiations around it sidelined to capturing the textual essence. In social literacies, the focus was on bounded communities for the ways the text was appropriated within their well-established practices. Negotiated literacy opens up the meaning-making process to all the conditions of diversity and unpredictability kept intact. It focuses on the activity, not the text or the community.

Practicing and learning negotiated literacy I narrate below the activity of a group of students and myself in a course on teaching writing. As we adopted certain strategies to write and read texts situated in transnational social fields, we also learned about negotiated literacy. It is quite understandable that we should be learning this form of literacy in practice, not in theory. As the models that cur­ rently dominate policies and pedagogies are autonomous or social literacies, we don’t have a theorized or reflective understanding of negotiated literacy. This form of literacy has to be practiced and learned in contact zones, where diversity and mobility become signifi­ cant. To treat the classroom as a contact zone, I didn’t privilege particular literacy norms and models for our pedagogical negotiations. I created a relatively open learning space where students had the freedom to adopt diverse discourses in their writing. I emphasize “relatively” because no space is totally free of hierarchical structures and power relations. The syllabus, materials, and my policies signaled to students my invitation to negotiate the diversity of norms and genres in society and education. The students also had to engage with texts, discourses, and languages from diverse backgrounds. This relative openness created the conditions for negotiated strategies of reading and writing. The narrative will show how we socialized ourselves into these strategies of negoti­ ated literacy. I have presented these strategies in a somewhat disembodied and taxonomic manner in research publications elsewhere (see Canagarajah, 2013b for example). Here, I present a chronological progression, which provides insights into how we developed the strategies over time in response to our struggles in meaning making. Through the temporal perspective, I am able to show how we all learned these strategies gradually and developed competence in them over time in response to situated challenges and resources. This rendi­ tion also allows me to show how the strategies were interconnected and multifunctional.

Negotiation strategies in literacy


I taught this course for a mix of upper-level undergraduate students and Master-level students in applied linguistics. They came from both “native English” speaking and “non­ native speaker” backgrounds. The main requirement was a semester-long writing of their LAs, through many rounds of response and revision, paralleling readings on composition theory and pedagogy. I didn’t instruct students to codemesh in their essays – and many stu­ dents didn’t. I believe that imposition of writing norms is precisely the type of instruction that stifles diversity and creativity. What emerged was that there was a compelling need for students to codemesh, as performative of the types of identity constructions and voice representations they were negotiating as transnational subjects. As specific rhetorical and linguistic challenges presented themselves in the classroom, we educated ourselves on how to negotiate them in our literacy events. We were compelled to search for relevant resources and strategies for resolution. The challenges posed by diversity motivated us to adopt strat­ egies that were creative, resourceful, and participatory. We collaborated in developing strategies to write and read translingual texts. We functioned as a community of practice, learning and regularizing these strategies through our ongoing joint enterprise of exploring, reflecting on, and representing our transnational experiences. We became a learning com­ munity. As the narrative of the emergence of these strategies reveals, we pushed ourselves to practice bolder, more creative, and critical writing in our literacy narratives over time. As part of this community of practice, the “native English speaker” students also participated in these strategies, adopting them for their codemeshing as they deemed them suitable for their own experiences in the transnational social field. The fact that this learning process was played out in the electronic forum made the trajectories of learning available to the students and myself for further analysis and development as the course progressed.

The story Ruth started the process of unconventional writing that pushed us to read and respond differently. Perhaps it was the need for envoicing that motivated her to adopt an atypical structure for her LA. Her design was to represent her evolving identity through a collec­ tion of texts she grew up with. She adopted the cinematic technique of montage to provide scenes from her literacy development that were not explicitly connected or explained. Though the scenes were chronologically organized, the thematic connections were not made obvious. Ruth adopted certain motifs to distinguish the texts – i.e., ~~~ to separate texts; and to separate them from her authorial voice. She also adopted different fonts – i.e., Bookman Old italicized for quotations from cited texts; regular for her narration of vignettes in earlier time; and Calibri for authorial voice for the present. She started with excerpts from Mrs. Rumphius read to her by her parents (Cooney, 1982) about Alice’s effort “to make the world more beautiful,” which she used as a motif to narrate her own quest to make the world beautiful through her education and vocation. Consider her opening:

Finding beauty

In the evening Alice sat on her grandfather’s knee and listened to his stories of faraway places. When he had finished, Alice would say, “When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.”

80 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

“That is all very well, little Alice,” said her grandfather, “but there is a third thing you must do.” “What is that?” asked Alice. “You must do something to make the world more beautiful,” said her grandfather. “All right,” said Alice. But she did not know what that could be. In the meantime Alice got up and washed her face and ate porridge for breakfast. She went to school and came home and did her homework. And pretty soon she was grown up. (Cooney, 1982, p. 6) I snuggle closer to my mom as she reads about Alice, who will grow up to be Miss Rumphius. [. . .] ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I sit in my chair, slowly turning red with embarrassment.

“No,” I answer. “It’s not the telephone book. It’s The Hobbit.”

My second-grade classmates look puzzled.

I wish I hadn’t brought it.


Golden and brown crusts of batch loaves, nut-bread, and oatfarl shone in the candlelight; tureens of steaming barley and beet soup, filled with corn dumplings, were placed at intervals, between hot cheese and mushroom flans and fresh spring salads. Flagons of spiced fruit cordial and dandelion tea vied for place with pear and chestnut turnovers, apple and cream puddings and two huge wild cherry and almond cakes (Jacques, 1998, pp. 45–46) I savor each delicious word of The Long Patrol as I sit curled up on the couch at home. [. . .]

My mother is a librarian and both of my parents are dedicated readers, so our house has always been full to the brim of novels, picture books, magazines, newspapers, reference books, comic books, biographies, and theological literature. [. . .] (D1)2 We gradually figured out Ruth’s envoicing strategy. The excerpted texts are performa­ tive of the discourses that have shaped her. These are the texts that have developed her creative, imaginative, and socially conscious disposition that she proceeds to narrate in her LA. Her draft is itself performative in representing a different voice. In breaking the

Negotiation strategies in literacy


linear narrative mode for her writing, Ruth aspires to a different voice. The creativity and imagination embodied in the text could have been motivated by the type of reading she was exposed to as a child. The putting together of these excerpts suggested her entexuali­ zation strategy also. The LA is entextualized by the voices and artifacts that constitute her own literacy. The LA embodies the ecological and semiotic resources that shaped Ruth’s literacy development. In that sense, Ruth’s envoicing is influenced by her entextualization strategy, suggesting the way these two strategies are connected. There were good reasons why Ruth’s creative semiotic resources gained indexicality and uptake. Because Ruth used the fonts and motifs consistently throughout her essay, we figured out what they indexed. We sensed the rhetorical effect of the different texts and vignettes presented in her montage and looked for the connections. Though Ruth didn’t use languages other than English at this point, her LA was codemeshed in other ways. Her writing showed a clever use of diverse semiotic resources for meaning making and voice. That is, in addition to the different fonts and visual motifs, she mixed registers and shuttled between narrative, personal, and academic discourses. Note the citations above to appeal to academic readers. The subtle analysis of her literacy development was made explicit with a theorization at the end of her LA. Ruth’s entextualization called for creative and responsive interactional strategies to fig­ ure out the meanings. The text was writerly, or enthymematic, requiring our interpretive work and not offering the writer’s intentions and messages explicitly. A writerly text as opposed to a readerly text (in Barthes’s, 1974 terms) is one that requires readers to invent meaning imaginatively and actively. Unlike readerly texts, which strive for transparency and require less interpretive work from the reader, the writerly texts expect agile interac­ tional strategies from readers to “write” the text. Though we were initially surprised by the lack of adequate sign posting to help readers, we quickly figured out that Ruth wanted us to interpret the connections. The carefully planned structuring and assembling of texts suggested that the text called for a different process of reading. Some students commented that the affective response itself was perhaps part of the objective, beyond the themes that could be rationally analyzed. Fatima quipped that some of the evocative descriptions in Ruth’s excerpts from Jacques (1998) made her hungry! Among the first to appreciate Ruth’s strategies and adopt them to his needs was Michael. He was seeking more suitable forms of entextualization for his own writing objectives. He wanted to dramatize more effectively his struggles in learning Korean in his experience teach­ ing abroad. Michael was not satisfied with the linear and controlled narration of his early drafts because he found that the style didn’t suit the messiness of his encounter with Korean language and people when he visited the country as an English language teacher. He wanted to “perform” the struggles in learning a new language and culture. He asked in his journal how he can “show” and not just “tell.” He explained:“I have some big problems with it [i.e., his draft] in terms of telling instead of showing.”This concern was so absorbing that he started signing off his journals around the midterm with “facta non verba” (sic). He too desired a writerly text that would compel readers to achieve the rhetorical objectives through their entextualization of his semiotic resources. Note that this performative interest provides also an envoicing dimension to Michael’s objectives in his LA. He wanted his text to “voice” his struggles and discoveries. Michael soon realized that Ruth’s entextualization strategy of using different fonts and motifs to juxtapose separate vignettes would help entextualize the seeming lack of

82 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

coherence he initially experienced in his social and communicative encounters in Korea. This performativity would also enable the readers to construct the evolving and achieved coherence he managed to accomplish. Therefore, he announced around the midterm in his journal: “The way some other students (maybe Ruth or Chrissie?) used different fonts to really show different voices is something I’m going to try.” His comment suggests many things. It shows his positive uptake of Ruth’s strategy, learning from a peer, and motivation to adopting it in his writing. By adopting this strategy of entextualization, he demonstrated to readers how he learned Korean through socialization and contextual use. He designed the temporal and spatial placement of Korean words strategically to achieve indexicality. Consider an instance of this entextualization strategy in Michael’s later draft. Here he changes to Bradley Hand ITC for narrative, after using Calibri for his authorial exposition:

The teacher clutched herself and slowly said “nalshiga aju chewuyo.” I stared at her knowing that I had a pained expression on my face and will myself to understand her. “Nalsiga aju chewuyo” she repeated and this time she shivered as well. I stared at her blankly feeling a growing headache come upon me. (D6) Note how Michael includes details on the gesture of the teacher to give clues as to the meaning of the Korean phrase (i.e., that the weather is cold). There is also a temporal dimension to his entextualization strategy here. Leaving the first occurrence of the Korean phrase undefined serves Michael’s performative objective of simulating the search for meaning. The readers too are left with curiosity as to the meaning of the phrase. In a later interaction, Michael locates Korean greetings strategically in the unfolding text to help readers interpret the meaning:

“Michael San, Oraeganman eya!” Tatsuya perked up when he saw me walk in to Hard Rock, it looked like he was drinking alone, not all that uncommon for either of us. “Uhhh, Oraeganman Tatsuya. Chal chinae?” I knew he’d say he was fine even though he was worried about his job, worried about staying in Korea, and generally just a bit worried. I met Tatsuya when I was the English teacher and he was the Japanese teacher at Sasee Language Institute and he was almost too nice a guy to be a teacher. Chal chinae. Maekju mashilae? (D6) “Oraeganman” and “Chal chinae” gain indexicality in context. Through the repetition in the interaction, we can guess that both terms are part of greeting routines. We also know from Michael’s sentence after the first use of “chal chinae” that it refers to “doing fine.” Here, again, the spatiotemporal location generates curiosity and makes us peruse the textual ecology for more clues. We are compelled to adopt this interactional strategy to interpret the Korean words as Michael doesn’t provide us definitions or glosses. The extextualization of these Korean words then not only gain meaning but also create certain

Negotiation strategies in literacy


performative effects important for Michael’s narrative purposes. We are made to adopt the process Michael himself undertook to interpret an unknown language from context. Unlike Ruth, who wasn’t using languages other than English in her early drafts, Michael was codemeshing Korean in his writing. But Ruth’s diverse registers and Michael’s differ­ ent languages are used for narrated characters (i.e., “narrated self,” to adopt Wortham & Reyes, 2015). Codemeshing is not used in the authorial voice (i.e., “narrating self ”). These codes are used in interactions or vignettes that are narrated. The authorial voice is in nor­ mative SWE. However, for some international students in the class, codemeshing was a compelling need for their own authorial voice. They adopted the entextualization strate­ gies Ruth and Michael were using for their own envoicing purposes. Saudi Arabian stu­ dent Buthainah took the semiotic resources of nonlinear juxtapositions, distinct fonts, and section dividers to new heights. Her envoicing involved freely using her localized form of English (which deviated from native-speaker norms), her home language Arabic, and her third language French. She mentioned in an interview with me that the use of codemesh­ ing was important for her voice: Although some people assume that ‘excellence’ is associated with writing like a ‘native,’ I strongly disagree with such belief. Who is a native speaker anyway? And why should a second language English writer have to mimic ‘native’ in order to be given the award of excellence? Deviating from native-speaker norms was metonymic of her identity. Consider Buthainah’s opening:

‫وم ن ي ت ه يّب ص ع ود ال ج ب ال ~~~ ي ع ش اب د ال دّه ر ب ي ن ال ح ف ر‬ As I type each word in this literacy autobiography, storms of thoughts stampede to be considered and mentioned. Which experiences should I value, which shall I consider, and which should I ignore. My literacy situation is unique as only a few number of students in the department share the same status. As I click the keys on the keyboard, an illustration of my literacy development shunt me to continue my ongoing learning adventure from my academic communities, my home, and my life experiences. (D6) The title is in Arabic and not translated. The idiomatic and grammatical peculiarities in English in the opening paragraph might pose challenges for interpretation (note “storms of thoughts stampede,” “a few number of students,” “my literacy development shunt me,” and the missing question mark). Though some of us were initially critical of such opening, seeking a translation and expecting closer editing for grammatical deviations, we gradu­ ally recognized that Buthainah’s entextualization choices were rhetorical. What helped us make this shift and adopt suitable interactional strategies were the following: Buthainah had used SWE in earlier drafts, demonstrating her proficiency in that variety. It appeared that her use of codemeshing was deliberate. Her refusal to edit away these choices in sub­ sequent drafts also suggested her intentionality. We wondered if Buthainah was experi­ menting with new meanings for these phrases. It appeared that Buthainah was seeking a

84 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

recontextualization for her text – i.e., from a “native English speaker” norm to a multilin­ gual writer perspective – so that we would read her choices as rhetorical and not deficient. Other international students also resisted “native English speaker” norms to represent their voices. Fatima, another Saudi Arabian student, wrote in her journal: ESL [English as a Second Language] students should never isolate their writing in English from their cultural beliefs. It is true that they should use the English standard of writing in terms of grammar, punctuation, organization, rhetoric, etc. However, that does not mean that they should use English cultural background in order to develop their ideas, they should stick to their identities and be proud to express them­ selves freely even if their culture is completely the opposite. Fatima envisions entextualizing a hybridized text that merges her cultural resources with English. In addition to adopting a prose similar to Buthaiah’s, with a mixture of Ara­ bic and localized English, she also uses photographs, visuals, and motifs that reflected her Arabic heritage. These multimodal resources went against our preferences for alphabetic and autonomous literacy and compelled us to adopt strategies of negotiated literacy for meaning. What helped us adopt unconventional interactional strategies to engage with these drafts was that these envoicing strategies by Buthainah and Fatima were gradual. They were cautious and considerate in their rhetorical experimentation, adopting more demand­ ing and creative strategies in their later drafts. Consider how Buthainah tries out more creative strategies of envoicing. In the first draft, for example, Buthainah doesn’t codemesh at all. Her essay is a linear narrative in English, approximating SWE. The only indications of experimentation are two smiley faces. It is in the second draft that we see the first signs of linguistic experimentation. She begins her essay thus:

“Oh God! Give me more knowledge” --My education dictum through the years is a verse in the Quran stating: “‫ق ل رب ي زدن ي ع ل م ا‬.” (D2) Note that she begins with the English translation first and gives the Arabic original next. In her later drafts, she will begin with the Arabic quotation and delay the translation (as we saw above). Even in her fourth draft, she writes “Thank Allah” and not “ma sha allah,” going on to use solely the Arabic expression in later drafts. Through these uses, Buthainah is preparing readers for more complex codemeshing in subsequent drafts. Such strategies also qualify her agency in writing, suggesting that she was aware of the dominant norms and conventions in American academic contexts and was deploying her envoicing strate­ gies cautiously to suit her audience. Note, furthermore, her interactional strategies here. She is developing an audience readiness for her unusual semiotic resources. She realizes that in order for these resources to achieve indexicality, the writer must prepare the audience to negotiate in creative meaning making. She therefore develops this audience readiness slowly and incrementally. As her strategies gained uptake and her semiotic resources gained indexicality, Buthain­ ah’s envoicing became bolder. She soon began to adopt non-verbal resources for other voicing purposes, beyond simply separating vignettes as Ruth and Michael had done.

Negotiation strategies in literacy


Buthainah used emoticons in her essay and rationalized her use thus: “Symbols serve as another ‘language’ that words may not be the best tool to express.” She also used a cul­ tural motif ~ ۞ ~ ۞ ~ ۞ ~ for indicating section headers and cuing different vignettes. In a stimulated recall interview with me, Buthainah justified the use of this motif thus: It is a familiar shape that one may find in Islamic art. Since I am a Muslim, and Islam influenced me, it also influenced my literacy experience. Thus, using this particular motif was a hint to the reader to my heritage. These interactional strategies were reciprocal. Writers anticipated certain strategies and cued them. The readers had to be willing to go beyond their habituated (or integrative) interpretive practices and adopt new strategies. For example, how did we give meaning to the untranslated Arabic title in Buthainah’s draft, when a majority of us were not proficient in that language? It is a careful and patient reader who would find the translation in the second paragraph of the essay. In certain other cases of untranslated Arabic, we had to align diverse vignettes and texts to infer the meaning. Buthainah said later in a stimulated recall interview that she delayed the interpretations deliberately as this would coax the reader to adopt relevant interactional strategies of aligning disparate texts for meaning: If I translated everything, then the readers would simply go through it. But, if I did not translate it or provide an immediate translation, then, I am encouraging the reader to question the relationship between the poem and the stories being told and promote critical thinking. In this way, Buthainah anticipated some dynamic and creative exploratory strategies on the part of her readers to achieve indexicality for her Arabic resources. As we can also see, she is trying to move readers out of their comfort zone of sedimented integrative practices, as befitting her writerly text. She is reducing the transparency of the text in her extextualiza­ tion by forcing readers to construct the coherence through their interactional strategies. The range of exploratory (or dispersed) strategies we adopted to make sense of her later drafts emerge dramatically in a vignette that was the most difficult for us to interpret. In the following excerpt, Buthainah seemed to use an Arabic verse as an epigraph, without translating it anywhere in the text. This strategy was different from others where she pro­ vided translations or clues for interpretation: ~ ۞~ ۞~ ۞~ ‫وم ن ط لب العال سه ر ال ل يا يل‬ ‫ي روم الع ز كيف ي نام ل يال‬ ٍّ ‫و م ن رام ال ع يل م ن غ ي كد‬ ‫ع يل ب ن ا بي ط ال ب‬

ُ ‫ب ق در ال ك ِّد ت ك ت‬ ‫سب المعا يل‬ ِ ‫ال آل يل طلب م ن ال بحر يغوص‬ ‫ال م ح ال ط ل ب ي ف ال ع م ر أض اع‬

When I was in fourth grade, I became sincerely interested in enrolling in the Communication Club (CC). Students in the club have the opportunity to give a speech in front of all of the attendees at the school. The advisor for the club, however, restricted those who may enter that club by requiring the interested candidates to submit an essay about nutrition. Since my desires to be a

86 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

member of that club were high, I did not mind writing the essay and submitting it for an evaluation. I understood that whatever knowledge I will gain by being a member of CC would be helpful. That writing competition was my first of many that ended with success, ma sha Allah. Later in the week, the advisor informed me of my acceptance. Upon hearing my acceptance, I was thrilled to be a part of the Communication Club. [P.S. Later that year, I found that CC lacked the factors of entertainment and coolness.]. . . . (D6) Under the constraint of not having the resources to easily decipher those codes, we adopted very exploratory interactional strategies to make sense of them. Our agency was qualified and limited as our habituated reading strategies and knowledge of English grammar could not help us. To begin with, we were compelled to change our footing. Consider Tim’s strategy of “meeting the text halfway.” He finds that he has to move out of his comfort zone for this kind of reading. He wrote in his peer review of this draft: By not translating you are excluding a wider audience, your non-Arabic speaking audience from being able to engage fully with the text. Perhaps you are challenging them to bridge that gap as readers. That if they want to gain access to your writing (to a piece of you, perhaps?) they have to meet you halfway somehow. Note that Tim is also developing a different orientation to texts. He acknowledges that he might not gain access to the whole meaning (only “a piece of you”) and that reading involves constructing meanings rather than being given meanings by the author. Similarly, Michael was ready to consider the possibility that different readers will con­ struct the text in slightly different ways, opening the text to a diversity of readings: To me, a non-Arabic speaker, this quote is a beautiful collection of alien writing, fascinating but incomprehensible. It is a statement to me that there is something Buthainah understands that I do not. It is a move that distances me from Buthainah but also leaves me intrigued and interest[ed] in reading more. We can see a similar abandonment to the text, or emplacement in the available resources and ecologies, for meaning making. Rather than giving up reading, the difficulty and opaqueness of the text only challenges Michael to read more closely and actively. This is exactly the strategy Buthainah had sought through this writing, as suggested in her interview with me. Note also that Michael is prepared to appreciate the “beauty” of the Arabic script, though he cannot understand its literal meaning. Thus, his reading becomes more multisensory rather than remaining at the habituated literal and alpha­ betical level. A lack of understanding of the verbal resources opens up a multimodal aesthetic reading for Michael. The alienness of the text compelled us to adopt more expansive and exploratory inter­ actional strategies and appreciate other performative meanings beyond the literal level. For Chrissie, an Anglo-American student, Buthainah’s identity (including perhaps her

Negotiation strategies in literacy


appearance in class with the head scarf ) enabled her to appreciate her verbal resources as embodying a different voice. She wrote in her peer comment on Buthainah’s drafts: As a student at an American University, she knows that following the “rules” of aca­ demic writing will get her far, but I think she does so with a sense of who she is. She obviously respects her L1 and explicitly shows us, the reader, through out the text with poems, and how expressions are beautiful in Arabic, but awkward in English (for example) Chang recognized that Buthainah always displayed a streak of using language agentively in the classroom and interpreted her unconventional norms accordingly: She realized the power of a new language when she was young and her way of deal­ ing with it was study hard to have a share of it . . . Therefore, she had the motivation to learn any new word she came into, to grasp this knowledge of language and to use it independently as her own voice. Buthainah’s peers gradually shifted their perspectives to treating her semiotic resources in terms of her envoicing, demonstrating uptake of her strategy. We also opened up our interactional strategies to the temporal dimension of meaning constructed through our negotiations. The reader’s erroneous attempts at meaning making are factored into this interpretive process. There is a performative side to this, as readers are taken through the hermeneutic cycle – through inferences, interpretations, and revisions – to problematize their readings. As readers engage with Buthainah’s text at different times, and perhaps serially, they will come to different understandings of her strategies. Christie changed her opinion dramatically on the place of Arabic quotations in Buthainah’s drafts. She mentioned in her peer review: Although, last week I wrote that she explain her Arabic poems, I now feel that they are a key part to her narrative. She is indirectly showing us, the reader, who she is through these poems . . . Perhaps it is up to us to figure out the significance of these words? After repeated readings, and a revised understanding of Buthainah’s strategy, Christie develops a richer interpretation of the narrative. She gains new insights into Buthainah’s ethos, merges the author’s identity with her literacy trajectory, and factors in the feelings associated with reversing the reader/writer roles and her footing. It made Christie ques­ tion her assumption that all English essays should use codes accessible to her. Buthainah’s envoicing strategies made her powerless and compelled her to acknowledge the right for others to use all their languages in a multilingual world. This realization is a performative effect of Buthainah’s text. From this perspective, we also learned that meaning is progres­ sive and temporal in the essay. More important than capturing paraphrasable content is the route readers/writers take in negotiating meaning. For negotiated literacy, it is not the what but also the where that matters. Christie and others were becoming more open to the possibility that meaning is a “becoming” – not a product to be extricated from the text. While these interactional strategies for interpretation taught us that we should develop a broader notion of meaning – i.e., beyond the literal to affective and performative

88 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

meanings – we also had to look for broader contextual and social cues for interpretation. We had to go beyond the traditional boundaries of the text and draw from wider spati­ otemporal scales for entextualizing the semiotic resources. For example, after raising some questions about the untranslated Arabic verse, Tim wrote, “I think discussing this with you and hearing your thoughts would be more helpful. Hopefully we can do this on Wednes­ day” He was counting on a face-to-face conversation to unpack the meaning of the Arabic verses during or out of class. He treats talk as part of a joint construction of textual mean­ ing. Ruth also said, “I trusted my classmates to explain what was important” when I asked how she dealt with the untranslated Arabic. In her case, Ruth is counting on others in the class too to help her during the online peer review and other discussions. For her also, meaning making is collaborative and stretched across time. Though Buthainah was pre­ pared to engage in these conversations and answered many such queries in the electronic forum and in the classroom, she refused to translate her Arabic verses on the text (as proven by their presence in the final draft). It appears that Buthainah was satisfied with these expanded social interactions for unpacking the meaning of these poetic lines. Buthainah assumed that her explanations and interactions in classrooms, interviews, and peer critique were part of the negotiation of meaning. It was clear that Buthainah also treated interpre­ tive interactions as taking place outside the text. The text is part of broader social action. As we adopted these exploratory strategies and also combined them with our earlier sedimented strategies (used for fonts and section divisions), we came very close to under­ standing the untranslated Arabic excerpt (cited above). The six lines in Arabic, arranged symmetrically and ending with what appears to be the name of the poet at the bottom, are followed by a narrative about Buthainah’s attempts to gain entry into a coveted English Club in her school. It is also clear from her section divider that this is a new and separate vignette. We can intuit the following by aligning these semiotic resources: These are lines of poetry, based on their symmetrical arrangement; in relation to the narration that follows in English, we can infer that they refer to achieving success by struggling against all odds; they comment on the importance of hard work; Buthainah finds inspiration for her English language and literacy acquisition through Arabic culture and values. Such an interpretation is confirmed later by Buthainah’s comments in a stimulated recall interview: The message of these lines is that who desires the best, need to work for it. He/she needs to stay up late working for it just like how divers have to search for the natural pearls. And those who try to get to the top and not work for it, they will waste their life getting nothing. Though we came close to deciphering Buthainah’s intended meaning of the lines, it is also clear that the metaphor of pearl divers eluded us. We had to await further interactions with Buthainah and other interactional strategies to unpack the meaning of this metaphor. In fact, interview commentary such as the above has itself helped us now understand that metaphor, if we include these ongoing interactions with Buthainah as part of our interac­ tional strategies. Though difficulty in entextualization motivated new interactional strategies that helped construct richer meanings, it can also create some anxiety and confusion about proper footing and framing. There was confusion as to whether we should adopt our sedimented literacy practices for academic literacy or shift to a different footing that goes beyond autonomous and situated literacy approaches and “native English speaker” norms. In such

Negotiation strategies in literacy


instances, many of us wondered if writers could have done more to frame the essay in such a way that we felt motivated to change our footing. Therefore, readers started asking for more help. These challenges were most pressing in the writing of Fatima, who used more unconventional semiotic resources. Michael, who appreciated Fatima’s exuberant multimodality but also worried about the proper framing to entextualize them, offered a strategy that we might label recontextualization. He said: I really liked the way you constructed your paper with multiple colors, texts, and sidebars. However I do want to know why you constructed it that way and how you are going to justify the construction. [. . .] I think your paper could be stronger if you pulled in other scholars who say that the way you write, with colors and more, is better in some ways that [than] just a plane [plain] white essay. He offered the acronym ABER (or Arts Based Educational Research) as suggesting a fram­ ing device for Fatima’s essay. Michael defined ABER as follows: “The generation of new and interesting questions is the product of arts-based educational research” (D5). Since Fatima’s semiotic resources seemed to be not purely for denotating one’s literacy trajectory but also posing new questions about how literacy and multilingualism worked, ABER seemed a use­ ful framing device. It would signal to readers that Fatima’s LA is problematizing dominant assumptions of literacy to create new knowledge about not only her literacy trajectory but how transnational literacy works in practice. Fatima’s essay subtly conveyed to us how religion influenced language and literacy acquisition and the role of multimodality in communication, among other things. As we will see later, Fatima adopted Michael’s suggestion for contextual­ ization and provided clues to the framing and footing of her essay in her later drafts. What Michael offered his peer as a help for her communicative challenge, he found useful for himself as well. Through ABER, he was helping himself. He realized the need for a suitable framing for his own LA as he continued to experiment with the performative challenges behind his own writing. He called it a “breakthrough” when he heard about Arts Based Education Research (ABER) and considered it a possible frame for his essay around the midterm. From his fifth draft onward, he adopts this framing in the place of the earlier chronological opening: I am using arts-based educational research “to make vivid certain qualities encoun­ tered by the researcher” (Eisner, 2008). Through my work I want to bring the reader with me to Korea in order to generate “new, and more interesting questions than the ones started with” (Eisner, 2008). The generation of new and interesting questions is the product of arts-based educational research. (D5) As Michael started his later drafts with this mention of ABER, we changed our footing to reading his essay by looking for new and interesting questions posed by his literacy trajectory. As readers might recollect, Michael had wanted to “perform” the challenges in understanding a new language and gradually mastering it. When he changed the framing of the text, we became curious about what the text was “doing” rather than just saying. We realized that we had to be alert to question our own assumptions, values, and reading strategies as we processed his montaged vignettes of scenes in Korea where he encountered new linguistic and cultural resources.

90 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

Recontextualization is not a one-sided process of writers dictating how they want to be read, but also readers influencing writers on appropriate strategies of entextualization. This is a dynamic and evolving process. It involves constant monitoring of one’s footing with interlocutors and changing the framing accordingly. Writers have to recalibrate the text in response to ongoing negotiations, just as readers are responsive to writers’ cues. After Michael had accomplished his envoicing strategies to his satisfaction and provided a contextualization cue to his readers in terms of ABER, he provided other contextual­ ization cues in deference to possible processing difficulties. In an online journal entry in the final week of classes, he mentioned: “My narrative should be a bit confusing because these experiences were confusing and contradictory and the reader should, perhaps, have to struggle through that to pull what they want from the narratives.” That this recontex­ tualization was accomplished not through the text itself but from his journal also shows his ability to exploit the expanded resources from the wider writing ecology to facilitate our reading. The recontextualization strategies of some other students were more conservative. Though Ruth and Buthainah had adopted an in medias res opening with languages and texts that were unconventional, they relented a bit and provided more direct orientations to readers in their final drafts. Both introduced a formal introduction and thesis statement after their surprising opening. They also introduced a concluding paragraph that pulled all the narrative threads together and pointed to the scholarly implications. Similarly, Kyoko and Fatima shifted from their storytelling opening and started their final drafts with a formal introduction that articulated their objectives in the essay. Kyoko high­ lighted her in-between position in English and Japanese discourses in her new opening. This helped readers process her Japanese cultural references and deviations from SWE as creativity. Though Fatima maintained her earlier personal opening, she followed it up in the second paragraph with an explicit statement of her in-between identity: “Being a Muslim woman who lived in an Islamic country and in a non-Islamic country has affected my life, my view of the world, and my literacy. It resulted into a different identity from who I knew as a child” (D5). She also concluded her essay with a rounding off of her themes, drawing attention to the trajectory of her literacy development. When asked the reason for such an opening, Fatima explained: “I would say that in order to under­ stand my development fully, especially during my college years, one need to understand the context where I came from.” The functionality of these recontextualization strategies became clear from the peer responses of readers. Christie mused about Kyoko’s opening: “I feel that your introduction helped me to focus on what was to come in your autobiog­ raphy . . . What made you decide to write your introduction? Was it to give your readers a sense of who you are as a writer before you began sharing your experiences?” Kyoko assented. The success of these negotiation strategies and positive uptake of the unconventional semiotic resources meant that more students were prepared to experiment with creative envoicing strategies. As we developed the strategies to provide indexicality and voice to these unconventional semiotic resources and became comfortable with negotiated literacy, many students became emboldened to adopt more creative strategies for voice. More inter­ esting about this learning trajectory was the realization of many “native English speaker” students that they too were multilingual. The voices of the international students helped them realize their own transnational subject positions (as suggested in the previous chapter). This was a performative outcome of writing and reading LAs. The participants redefined

Negotiation strategies in literacy


their identities. Ruth, who started the creativity in writing in the course by meshing dif­ ferent registers of English, later went on to include French to entextualize a multilingual repertoire. Consider the following in her later versions of her draft: From my journal while in France: vendredi, le 12 janvier, 2007 [Friday, January 12th, 2007]

Today was a little lazy, because I didn’t have any classes. I woke up around 9 and, after breakfast, walked down to Notre Dame de la Paix, la poste, et des magasins [the post office and stores]. Ils sont tous très proche [they’re all very close]! I saw service times, mailed letters, and bought yaourt, muesli croustillant avec 6 fruits, et trois pommes [yogurt, crunchy fruit granola, and three apples]. Then I had a lovely lunch and read. At 15h, I met Chelsea à la fontaine [at the fountain]. After wandering a bit, we went au bureau [to the program office]. [D6] As we can see, Ruth is still somewhat cautious and translates her French to help with interpretation. The translations were added for presentation in the LA and not present in the original journal entries. However, both the original French and the English translation also performed her own learning strategy at that time in her study abroad experience. In her later versions, Ruth went on to include some French without translations in her LA, adopting even bolder envoicing strategies. It is possible that multilingual students like Buthainah, Fatima, Kyoko, and others were seeking strategic ways to navigate their evolving grammatical control over English by including more non-verbal resources in later drafts. Their strategy might be considered a case of emplacement, as they were skillfully aligning the English verbal resources avail­ able to them with other semiotic resources for making meaning. In a stimulated recall, Buthainah justified her choice of her non-verbal resources as follows: Symbols work as another way of expressing myself. I used Arabic, poems, French, and now symbols. Limiting myself to one language is – ironically – limiting. . . . But, experiencing more than one language, we are able to express ourselves in different ways or the best way. In other words, she didn’t consider these semiotic resources as being used as compensatory to any language deficiency but as an expressive resource.

A community of practice This narrative provides many insights into how a classroom community of writers might develop their negotiation strategies, learn from each other, socialize themselves into new literacy and language ideologies, and enhance their literacy proficiency. This is the advan­ tage of setting up a space that invites negotiations for meaning making. Though subtle power differences and normative pressures are still evident in my class, writing spaces

92 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

without an overt imposition of literacy and linguistic norms can succeed in facilitating such learning. My point is that liminal transnational spaces, where norms are unshared or unpredictable, require creative negotiations to achieve indexicality for texts and semiotic resources. Though my classroom interactions are being played out in an American uni­ versity (where monolingual ideologies are dominant), it is possible to set up classrooms as contact zones, as I will illustrate from my pedagogy in the next chapter. Since diversity and mobility are always already there, such pedagogies simply mean accentuating those resources in the classroom. As students represent and negotiate their differences, they are able to develop new literacy strategies and voice. The narrative suggests how we became a learning community. Students learn strategies from each other for voice and for making meaning from texts.The discussion about ABER and the use of different fonts and motifs for montage-like structures show how students developed expressive conventions for voice. In many cases, they developed a conscious aware­ ness of these resources and their benefits.They go on to recommend strategies to each other to resolve expressive problems others might be facing. In all this, we see a group of writ­ ers engaged in their craft.They are creatively experimenting, consciously reflecting on their options, consulting each other, developing new strategies, and constantly revising to produce more creative and bold texts. As they communicate, they are also learning about effective communication. In fact, diversity in the classroom ecology makes this group of students more engaged in their craft. Our experience shows how an engagement with diversity can be pro­ ductive for literacy and language development. An imposition of norms would have stifled this development and learning. Normativity in writing would have led to a lack of engage­ ment and investment in writing for multilingual students. However, out of difference, shared norms and practices eventually evolve. They emerge as achieved (not given), through situated interactions. As we saw, certain disparate (or exploratory) strategies tried out by individual students to resolve their personal commu­ nicative needs and objectives become sedimented and integrative (to use Schatzki’s, 1996 terminology). Consider how entextualization strategies such as the use of fonts and icons to distinguish vignettes and motifs to represent voice gained uptake, developed indexicality, and began to be used by more students to represent their voice. At the same time, students still adopted exploratory strategies when certain writers used more challenging envoicing for performative purposes. It is also clear from the experience of students like Chrissie that these strategies are learned through trial and error. Students shifted their footing between disparate and integrated strategies as demanded by the texts. This narrative also shows how community is achieved out of diversity. Students from diverse backgrounds develop ways of interacting with each other while accepting the dif­ ferent languages and interactional strategies they bring with them. As they negotiate their difference, the members learn more about each other and develop shared understandings. This is a corrective to notions that difference is confusing or dysfunctional and that inter­ actions premised on shared norms are more successful. This also challenges the notion that shared norms and values are needed for understanding or harmonious social relations. Community is achieved with an acceptance of diversity. Students are prepared to reposi­ tion their footing and statuses, or redefine their identities as translingual from monolin­ gual, to develop more harmonious relationships with their peers. More importantly, students develop certain new dispositions such as tolerance, patience, and willingness to negotiate through their classroom interactions. Quite dramatic are the changing orientations of “native English speaker” students like Michael, Tim, and Chrissie

Negotiation strategies in literacy


who step out of dominant grammatical norms and autonomous literacy assumptions to negotiate with multilingual writers for meaning. I will develop a more focused discussion of dispositions suitable for transnational literacy in the next chapter. What this chapter shows is that students are not strangers to new orientations to literacy nor depend on teachers to introduce them. Since everyone is already engaged in negotiated literacy in the global contact zones, sometimes intuitively, transnational subjects draw from their experi­ ences in classrooms to develop these strategies further. Students need a space to bring these strategies into their interactions freely, engage with them critically, and develop a reflective awareness of them. As we develop a new literacy disposition, we also socialize ourselves into corresponding negotiation strategies. Note also that the writing activity is performative. Beyond encoding ideas and mean­ ings, these texts accomplish social outcomes. The students learn from each other, expand their repertoires, and develop new identities. For example, the “native English speaker” students learn from multilinguals certain translingual communicative resources and rede­ fine themselves as translinguals by discovering facets of their backgrounds that lay hidden. In this sense, the writing collaboration leads to changes in identity and dispositions. As we can see, Ruth gradually included the French she had learned in study abroad, discussed her experiences in France, and presented herself as a transilingual after reading about the experiences of other multilingual students. Similarly, Michael tapped into his experience teaching in Korea to represent his learning of Korean and in group community forma­ tion with Korean people. Here again, translingual identities didn’t have to be imposed on students. They discovered them in classroom interactions, developed a positive valuation of them, and redefined themselves in relation to their writing experiences. What these outcomes suggest is that negotiated literacy, translingual dispositions, and transnational identities are experienced by everyone in their everyday life. They need a supportive envi­ ronment to reflect on them and develop them. We thus see that in a congenial learning/ writing context, students are able to shift to negotiated literacy and develop strategies that are suitable for such negotiations. The writing activity socializes them into effective new reading/writing practices. The narrative also provides a more complex orientation to agency in transnational lit­ eracy. At a local scale level, we do find writers adopting strategies such as envoicing, entex­ tualization, and recontextualization to represent desired voices and performative interests. Similarly, readers adopt reciprocal interactional strategies to construct meaning. Writers reciprocate by recaliberating the ease or difficulty, writerly or readerly texts, based on the uptake of the readers. However, we must realize that both readers and writers often feel challenged. Their language competence is sometimes inadequate to entextualize the LAs in a satisfactory manner. In such contexts, they emplace themselves in the fullest ecology of the writing/learning context to draw from expansive resources for meaning making. Multilingual students adopt diverse languages and semiotic resources to complement their English verbal resources. “Native English speaker” students adopt new strategies to seek alignment between diverse verbal, semiotic, and ecological resources for interpretation, going beyond their habituated norms and literacies. In such cases, the difficulty and lim­ ited competence don’t become a liability but a resource. Students go beyond the literal and boldly accomplish creative new meanings and voice representations. Note also that not always are these negotiation and entextualization strategies deliberate. There are ecologi­ cal, social, and historical factors of wider scales beyond the individuals and the classroom that shape the texts, requiring an emplacement for meaning making.

94 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

Though I have presented above the way these strategies developed in a single class, one of the earliest I taught using this genre of LA, I cannot say that the same strategies emerged in other classes in the same way. The broader macro strategies I identify – i.e., recontextualization, entextualization, envoicing, and interactional, based on the coding of this data – generally come into play in all classes I have taught. However, the specific manifestations of the four and their relative importance can vary for different students and writing communities. No literacy event is the same, as the writing ecology is always dif­ ferent. Furthermore, these strategies develop across different literacy interactions and texts. What I have presented in the duration of a single course is a snippet of the strategies and interactions that readers/writers develop over more expansive times and spaces. I provide the above narrative as an example to help writers and teachers become alert to the disposi­ tions and strategies they can develop in their own teaching/learning experiences.

Notes 1 I address the use of Britishisms such as this later. 2 I indicate the draft number this way. Note that these drafts are slightly different from the final ver­ sions included in Part II.The published drafts went through additional revisions. Furthermore, all data is presented minimally edited. Since the interviews were conducted electronically, they also feature students’ typographical mistakes.

References Atkinson, D., Churchill, E., Nishino, T., & Okada, H. (2007). Alignment and interaction in a sociocognitive approach in second language acquisition. Modern Language Journal, 91, 169–188. Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays (V.W. McGee,Trans.).Austin: University of Texas Press. Barthes, R. (1974). S/Z (R. Miller,Trans.). New York: Hill & Wang. Blommaert, J. (2008). Grassroots literacy:Writing, identity and voice in central Africa. London: Routledge. Blommaert, J. (2010). The sociolinguistics of globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Briggs, C. L., & Bauman, R. (1992). Genre, intertextuality, and social power. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 2(2), 131–172. Canagarajah, A. S. (2001). The fortunate traveler: Shuttling between communities and literacies by economy class. In D. Belcher & U. Connor (Eds.), Reflections on multiliterate lives (pp. 23–37). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Canagarajah, A. S. (2007). Lingua franca English, multilingual communities, and language acquisition. Modern Language Journal, 91(5), 921–937. Canagarajah, A. S. (2013b). Negotiating translingual literacy: An enactment. Research in the Teaching of English, 48(1), 40–67. Cooney, B. (1982). Miss Rumphius. New York: Penguin Books. Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (Eds.). (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures. London: Routledge. Daniel, S. B. (1983).The tool box approach of the Tamil to the issue of moral responsibility and human destiny. In C. F. Keyes & E.V. Daniel (Eds.), Karma: An anthropological inquiry (pp. 27–62). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. De Certeau, M. (1984). The practice of everyday life (S. Rendall, Trans.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Goffman, E. (1981). Forms of talk. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Goody, J. (1977). The domestication of the savage mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Havelock, E. (1982). The literate revolution in Greece and its cultural consequences. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with words. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jacques, B. (1998). The long patrol. New York: Random House. Lu, M-Z., & Horner, B. (2013).Translingual literacy, language difference, and matters of agency. College English, 75(6), 582–607. Mao, L. (2010). Searching for the way: Between the whats and wheres of Chinese rhetoric. College English, 72(4), 329–349. Pigg, S. (2014). Emplacing mobile composing habits: A study of academic writing in networked social spaces. College English, 66(2), 250–275. Pratt, M. L. (1987). Linguistic utopias. In N. Fabb, D. Attridge, A. Durant, & C. MacCabe (Eds.), The linguistics of writing: Arguments between language and literature (pp. 48–66). Manchester: Manchester University Press. Pratt, M. L. (1991).Arts of the contact zone. Profession, 91, 33–40. Prior, P. (1998). Writing/disciplinarity: A sociohistoric account of writing in the disciplines. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Ratcliffe, K. (1999). Rhetorical listening:A trope for interpretive invention and a “code of cross-cultural conduct.” College Composition and Communication, 51(2), 195–224. Schatzki, T. (1996). Social practice: A Wittgensteinian approach to human activity and the social. New York: Cambridge University Press. Street, B. (1984). Literacy in theory and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wimsatt,W. K., & Beardsley, M. C. (1954). The verbal icon. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. Wortham, S., & Reyes,A. (2015). Discourse analysis beyond the speech event. Abingdon: Routledge.


Can I provide any hints for other non-native writers that will help them engage in academic discourse confidently in their professional life? Is there a secret to my success? I have mixed feelings about these questions. On the one hand, I don’t feel I am “successful” – I am still a student of academic discourse, restlessly experimenting in order to find a suitable voice in this discourse. (It is possible that it is this creative tension that has given life to my writing so far.) I also feel that I have not been provided with the available conventions and discourses from the standpoint of one’s ideological and rhetorical prefer­ ences. As I come from a non-native language group, this truth was conveyed to me all the more glar­ ingly. I learnt about appropriating the dominant conventions or developing multivocal texts not from postmodernist academic scholarship, or pedagogical and technical recipes. This is because I had my formative education in a community which doesn’t indulge in much meta-talk about writing process, and the theories handed to me during my graduate studies in the West have not always understood the unique challenges confronting a periphery scholar like me. But from another point of view, there are some lessons I have learnt during my literacy development that can help others. These are largely intuitive realizations and reflective insights that derive from the diverse contexts and cultures of writing I have been situated in. To begin with, I find that being caught between conflicting and competing writing traditions, discourses, or languages is not always a “problem.” These tensions can be resourceful in enabling a rich repertoire of communicative strategies. The conflicts I have faced as I shuttled between my native community and Western academic community generated many useful insights into the ideological and rhetorical challenges in academic communication. I developed a keener appreciation of the strengths and limitations of either discursive tradition. It was probably a blessing that I was an outsider in both the center and periphery academic communities! The restlessness that was created by these rhetorical con­ texts generated an experimental attitude towards finding ways of cultivating my voice in the academy. Perhaps all writing involves ways of appropriating but from the painful personal experience of shuttling between discourse communities. Perhaps the qualities that helped me treat my conflicts positively and educationally were the traits I identified at the beginning of the essay – i.e., humility in relation to knowledge, a reflective learning attitude, critical questioning of dominant practices, and contextually grounded theorization. It is somewhat anti-climactic to point to these very basic learning strategies as those that helped me in my progress towards a confident play with academic conventions. But these are

Dispositions of transnational literacies


after all the skills and strategies that lead to a constructive, self-directed, everyday learning experience. This is how I became a bilingual when I was a child. This is how I have grown to manipulate compet­ ing literacy conventions as an adult. (Canagarajah, 2001, pp. 36–37). That is the conclusion to the literacy narrative that I have been excerpting through this book. This section was written to address the questions the editors of the collection had sent me to articulate my recommendations for other multilingual writers, in keeping with their objectives behind this publishing project. I start by alluding to the questions of the editors: “Can I provide any hints for other non-native writers that will help them engage in academic discourse confidently in their professional life? Is there a secret to my success?” One can discern my discomfort in giving “recipes” for success. My discomfort also derives from my understanding of writing competence as ongoing and not having an end point. One thing I am certain of is that I see the tension between literacies, languages, and com­ munities – i.e., a feature of my transnational habitus – as providing resources for ongoing learning. I articulate the need to shuttle between literacies as beneficial, though unsettling. In this sense, I see the liminal space of transnational social fields as bringing certain advan­ tages and resources. It is almost as if mobility itself is a pedagogy. In my ongoing writing and teaching, I still find that “these tensions can be resourceful,” as I stated almost 15 years ago. They have continued to be a form of learning that I have developed since childhood, when I gradually developed competence in English through social participation and eve­ ryday practice, as the narrative presents in its earlier sections. What exactly about this process of shuttling between communities, literacies, and lan­ guages is pedagogically resourceful? I will outline the value in relation to the notion of lit­ eracy socialization. It refers to developing proficiencies for communication in actual practice with others in everyday social life (Duff, 2008). It celebrates learning by doing. That is, as people engage in actual communicative practices, they are also learning the conventions and norms that matter in specific genres and contexts. This kind of learning is social in that proficiencies are collaboratively developed in relation to the challenges and interests of those engaged in communication. It is practice-based and tacit, as distinct from formal or explicit. Because it is practice-based, the learning is situated and embedded in the com­ municative and material ecology, not isolated or detached for convenient learning. There are important reasons why literacy socialization is beneficial for some kinds of learning. As evident in my cited literacy narrative, in a context where formal instruction on writing was limited (in Sri Lanka) and the notion of appropriating dominant discourses was not pedagogically well-developed or approved (in the US), the classroom couldn’t help me. I developed my hybridized writing through my ongoing writing practice. In this type of situated, embodied, and embedded learning, the material and commu­ nicative environment plays an important role. This learning is ecological. The richness and even messiness of the communicative environment is valuable in providing resources for one’s learning. The competing traditions of literacies and rhetorics turned out to be resourceful for me, though they were also sometimes confusing and debilitating. How­ ever, ecological resources by themselves don’t become educational. Scholars in ecological pedagogies state that one’s ability to negotiate these resources to facilitate his/her language development can turn them into “affordances.” Van Lier (2004) defines affordances as: “what is available to the learner to do something with” (p. 91). Much depends on the atti­ tudes of teachers and students to engage with these resources actively and turn them into

98 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

beneficial affordances. Therefore, Guerrattaz and Johnston argue that “affordances may either enable or constrain language learning” (2013, p. 782). Though they identify positive affordances in language learning, even limiting affordances can shape literacy develop­ ment, as students learn to negotiate constraints. Furthermore, there is no linear cause/effect relationship between ecological resources and literacy development. The concept of emergence in ecological models adopts a com­ plex orientation to cause/effect. It might be difficult to isolate one factor as leading to the emergence of new genres or voices. Several factors might act in multiple directions and subtle ways to contribute to new possibilities. Van Lier (1997) warns, “evidence of learn­ ing . . . cannot be based on the establishment of causal (or correlational) links between something in the input and something in the output” (p. 786). We must also remember, as discussed in the last chapter, that not all ecological resources are under one’s control. Mate­ rial ecologies are agentive and shape texts and learning in complex ways as an assemblage, working together with diverse resources. Those who benefit from material resources are those who can emplace themselves in the communicative ecology to adopt a responsive and negotiated relationship with the environment. It is in this sense that even the con­ straints one faces in language/literacy socialization can become affordances. One must cultivate a strategy of emplacement to transform diverse resources in the communicative environment into an ecology attuned to one’s interests. In this sense, emplacement involves adaptation. The ecology of my literacy socialization featured mobility. The diversity of languages, cultures, and rhetorics I shuttled between in my migrant trajectories, between the center and periphery, contributed immensely to my learning and development. Furthermore, the communicative ecology was not stable or static. Ecologies change, more so in response to other influences of human and material mobility. Also, as writers shuttle across communities – as I did between the USA and Sri Lanka – they are traversing diverse material and social ecologies. This mobility of resources and people is also immensely educational. In addition to the rich resources one encounters in mobility, the process calls for dialogical and interactional engagement with the contexts for learning. One cannot take one’s norms and strategies for granted, as one would in a stable social environment. One always learns the limits of sedimented strategies and norms, sometimes through painful cases of failure. In this sense, mobility calls for constant negotiation. One has to negotiate meaning with diverse other mobile participants and semiotic resources. In this sense, my shuttling across communities for my education and employment set off a constant process of learning and socialization. A key disposition developed through such process is what we might call a “nomadic consciousness” (Guerra, 2004). Such awareness is nonlinear, unscripted, and resistant, being resonant to one’s life trajectories and attuned to negotiating mobile literacy practices and norms. What learners develop from these ecological resources and learning processes are more than a knowledge product (i.e., a fact, proposition, information, or rule) or skill (i.e., a habituated technical ability to write in a particular way or genre). They develop dispositions that facilitate creative and critical transnational communication. In other words, what they acquire is not primarily grammars, literacy norms, or genre conventions. Nor are they behavioral abilities and skills that come through repeated practice. These are secondary to the awarenesses and dispositions that can help them negotiate diverse languages and genres they might encounter in transnational life trajectories. It is such dispositions that I bring

Dispositions of transnational literacies


out as my secrets for success in the conclusion of my LA (cited above). I refer to them at that time as “qualities” and “traits.” I illustrate them as “humility toward knowledge, a reflective learning attitude, critical questioning of dominant practices, and contextually grounded theorization.” It is clear also that I am very defensive in offering them as my path to literacy development, possibly in deference to the educational philosophies and literacy traditions that view skills and knowledge as more important. Though I was prompted by my personal experience in appreciating the value of such dispositions, I have since gone on to study them more carefully and theorize them further. I define dispositions along with Bourdieu (1977) and others as a form of habitus. Dispo­ sitions constitute the following notions: They are shaped by material and social structures that frame one’s social life. They are developed in the process of socialization and everyday life. In this sense, dispositions suggest how identities and subjectivities are socially and mate­ rially constructed. However, these dispositions are not constraining or limiting; they enable people to be creative and renegotiate social structures. Dispositions offer a robust middle path between behaviorism that values environmen­ tally determined skills and cognitivism that values the transcendental agency of the mind. I categorize the dispositions that favor transnational literacies into three overarching con­ structs: i.e., rhetorical sensibility; language awareness; and negotiation strategies. It is dif­ ficult to separate these dispositions, as one feeds into the other. Before I narrate a classroom experience where these dispositions shaped – and were shaped by – the transnational lit­ eracy practices in classroom interactions, I offer a brief description of each of them. Negotiation strategies: Those adept at transnational literacies develop the disposition to focus on negotiating meaning with considerable tolerance, openness, and humility, rather than imposing their own expectations on the texts or treating communication as based on impersonal and rigid norms. Such strategies characterize both writing and reading. Just as readers interpret texts with sensitivity to the diverse contexts and influences shaping the texts, writers are also sensitive to possible trajectories of the text in space and time, generating diverse meanings. This disposition would make them adept at the practices of negotiated literacy, as defined in the previous chapter. Furthermore, such strategies also characterize good learning. These are the strategies that characterize effective pro­ cesses of language socialization, whereby participants adopt intuitive strategies to learn from the rich resources embedded in communicative ecologies. These strategies, thus, turn resources into affordances, valuable for literacy development. Rhetorical sensibility: This set of dispositions prepares people to treat literacy and com­ munication as not an encoding of information according to predefined rules and norms for instrumental communication but a representation of voice. In this sense, meaning making cannot be separated from affective, social, and aesthetic considerations. Reducing mean­ ing to information or decontextualized/literal knowledge would narrow the implications of writing and literacy. Thus, writing effectiveness, including those of LAs, needs to be judged in relation to the rhetorical objectives and interests shaping the interaction. Rhe­ torical sensibility involves an awareness of how genre conventions and semiotic resources

100 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

might be critically renegotiated and strategically deployed for creative and critical com­ munication. It also disposes writers to assume texts as performative, that is, generating meanings and effects in literacy activity, rather than serving as a container for predefined meanings. Language awareness: This is related to the above two dispositions, as it involves going beyond grammatical norms and correctness to consider how language is shaped accord­ ing to the rhetorical interests of the participants and how they gain uptake in literacy negotiations. Those adept in transnational literacies are comfortable with a diversity of norms, expansive semiotic resources, and situated meanings emerging out of negotiations. In this sense, they are also prepared to go beyond a single labeled language (i.e., standard English) and draw from diverse semiotic resources to achieve indexicality. In transnational and translingual writing, language awareness plays an important role, as verbal resources gain different values and meanings in different locations. It endows one with a disposition to always negotiate language norms in contact zones, with tolerance, patience, humility, reflexivity, self-criticality, and willingness to engage with diversity. An orientation to effective literacy practices as based on suitable dispositions also helps us reorient to pedagogy. We begin to see the proficiencies of our students differently. That multilingual students may be new to English and academic literacies should not be taken to mean that they are deficient or ignorant. They are bringing valuable dispositions developed from their transnational and mobile life trajectories. Though students already bring dispo­ sitions favorable to transnational literacy from their life outside the classroom, this doesn’t mean that educational institutions don’t have a role to play in developing literacy proficien­ cies. The school can provide a space for students to develop these dispositions with greater reflexivity, criticality, and rigor. What is developed outside the classroom can be largely intuitive. For this purpose, schools should consider how to invite the home resources of the students into the classrooms. These rich ecologies and mobile conditions can help students continue their disposition development. In this chapter, I articulate how I configured classroom environments to accommo­ date the ecological resources writers negotiate outside for their learning and development. I demonstrate how students transform ecological resources into affordances to develop effective dispositions for transnational literacies. This pedagogical mission is still ongo­ ing, as I continue to learn more bold strategies for writing from my students and enhance my teaching from their experiences. My narrative illustrates the principles and strategies that facilitated the LAs presented in this book. However, the pedagogy is not presented as a recipe for all to follow. What is more important are the broader principles shaping the pedagogy, which will be adopted or implemented differently in relation to one’s teaching contexts and objectives. Bear in mind that the student LAs presented in this book come from a course on teacher development in second language writing for beginning Master-degree students and advanced undergraduate students. It emphasized writing practice as a means of devel­ oping both literacy dispositions and teacher identity through narratives. As such, its goals are different from basic writing and other composition courses where LAs can be used for other pedagogical purposes and literacy themes. In the appendix, I provide two sample syllabi – one for an undergraduate course and the other for a graduate teacher development course. Both are influenced by the pedagogical principles described below. They show how literacy dispositions and proficiencies can be developed through practice-based, ecological,

Dispositions of transnational literacies 101

and dialogical pedagogies in classrooms designed as contact zones. Though curricular approaches for developing LAs will vary (see Young, 2004; Soliday, 1994; Sullivan, 2003 for other examples), they typically share the following pedagogical processes: carefully sequencing the writing process to guide students through identifying key moments in literacy development; analyzing their narratives to discover one’s own trajectories; using research and reading to critically reflect on one’s experiences and trajectories; engaging with teacher and peer feedback to triangulate them to revise one’s text; shaping one’s themes according to one’s trajectories and interests; and, finally, working toward an effec­ tive finished product that emerges out of revision and editing. The whole writing process is thus supported and shaped by useful ecological resources, transnational dispositions, and literacy socialization.

Classrooms as contact zones To shape the learning environment according to the principles described above, I consider it suitable to foster the classroom as a contact zone. I consider contact zones as presenting diverse material ecologies and social networks, beyond semiotic resources, to facilitate literacy development. Note that the classroom, like other social spaces, is already a contact zone. Classrooms feature a diversity of resources and influences. The problem is that some teachers don’t draw from these resources – or even suppress these resources unwittingly – thus turning classrooms into normative and homogeneous spaces. I adopt pedagogical practices and policies that accentuate the resources in the classroom to facilitate contact, negotiation practices, and language socialization. They allow for diverse educational and communicative resources to flow freely, inviting students to take them up according to their own interests and objectives. I must acknowledge that such a classroom is not totally value free, as teachers do come with their own agendas and ideologies, not to mention those of the institution and the dominant social groups. However, we must expect the teacher to be relatively reflexive and more open to acknowledging diversity in the learn­ ing environment. Note that even in teacher-controlled classrooms, it is difficult to prevent diverse semiotic resources that are already there from influencing the interactions. There is more than meets the eye in a classroom. Similarly, students are often strategic in bringing discourses and resources that are not invited into the classroom to pursue their own inter­ ests. A teacher who is sympathetic to this diversity and mobility will make those resources for learning salient, avoid suppressing diversity, and encourage students’ collaborative work in turning these resources into affordances. In the contact zone, teachers would encourage the strategic emplacement of students and themselves with these resources for generating literacies that represent their voices and interests. Why is the contact zones (CZ) pedagogy significant for facilitating transnational lit­ eracies? It reflects the communicative unpredictability in transnational social fields. As in social contexts, in CZ classrooms language and literacy norms are diverse and unpredict­ able. Students have to negotiate and develop their interests ground up for effective com­ munication. Classroom as a contact zone simulates such transnational social conditions for communicative success, negotiation, and learning. Furthermore, we don’t know enough about ways of negotiating diversity in transnational language and literacy practices. As researchers and teachers have been focused on shared norms for grounding communica­ tion, they have failed to develop an understanding of the strategies that help negotiate the

102 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

diverse and changing literacies in society. Therefore, in a more open CZ classroom, both students and teachers have to engage in ongoing learning of literacies and negotiation strategies. Understandably, a single teacher cannot be expected to know the languages and literacies students bring to their classroom from their mobility. To empower student voices then, teachers have to think of themselves as facilitators, rather than authorities, offering affordances to help scaffold the development students themselves desire. Furthermore, they have to cultivate the dispositions to respect the knowledge of the students and develop a familiarity with the language and literacy repertoires students bring with them. After ensuring such sensitivity, they can provide critical feedback for their students on their agendas for their reflection and adaptation. There is therefore a responsible middle point for teachers between appropriating student voices according to their teacherly norms and abandoning control over the classroom. Teachers can be creative and resourceful facilita­ tors of learning by configuring learning spaces and interactions strategically for literacy as mobility. I illustrate how I actively shaped the classroom environment for these objectives in the next section.

The ecology of CZ classrooms An ecological orientation to CZ pedagogy treats languages and literacies as shaped by the diverse participants, processes, artifacts, and structures (collectively labeled “ecological resources” by Guerrattaz & Johnston, 2013) in the classroom. To begin with process, I adopt a practice-based approach informed by principles of language socialization, as defined above. I strive to provide spaces for negotiations between readers/writers and teachers/ students from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds with suitable ecological resources to facilitate such negotiations, leading to reflexive thinking, creative risk taking, and critical rhetorical practice. I encourage the emplacement of writers among ecological resources to draw from them responsively to develop their interests. These processes aim to develop suitable dispositions and strategies for transnational literacies through the actual writing students do in the course. In encouraging students to read each other’s drafts, provide feedback, and revise accordingly, learning becomes dialogical and collaborative. In fact, process is not only the means of learning; it is also the end. What students gain from such a pedagogy is to learn how resources come together, strategies renegotiate norms, and dispositions shape texts. This is in keeping with the realization that a non-representational approach (i.e., a focus on the how rather than the what; Thrift, 2007) is more valuable for the achievement of negotiated literacy. In this manner, the course is different from others that are teacher-fronted and focus on the learning of norms and conventions for meaning representation. The main requirement for my courses is a serially drafted, collaboratively reviewed, and actively revised LA. The courses are always computer-mediated, and the readings and writings emerge out of dialogical interactions with one’s peers and the instructor. Students are expected to post at least six drafts of their LA at various stages of development on the course website. The peers and the instructor read the drafts and post their feedback to the author. The authors have an opportunity to respond to the feedback, reflect on their writ­ ing challenges, and pose further questions in their weekly journal entries as they revise the draft for another review. Such a pedagogical process encourages socialization through collaborative interactions and ongoing practice. As students work on their drafts, they

Dispositions of transnational literacies 103

interpret the course readings differently, renegotiate the suggestions of their peers and the instructor, and re-envision their texts. A diverse range of participants contributes to a classroom ecology that is rich and resource­ ful. My classes often include both “native English” and international students. I find such classes more productive for dialogical learning, compared to classes that are segregated according to L1 and ESL identities. This diversity contributes to the richness as well as the challenges in CZ socialization. Note that the international students themselves bring with them multilingual repertoires and diverse identities that contribute to literacy negotiations. We must also include in the mix my own teacher identity. My multilingual, transnational, and ideologically progressive subject positions shape the classroom and literacy negotia­ tions in significant ways. Course artifacts are diversified to encourage CZ negotiations. The engagement with course materials is influenced by one’s writing project. The knowledge derived from them emerge through invested discussions and collaborative exploration. The textbooks I use represent diverse positions on writing, some adopting critical ideologies that favor translingualism, and others that introduce established academic norms. Students have to negotiate these ideologies and rhetorics in relation to their own voices and interest. To represent translingual ideologies, I have used Critical Academic Writing and Multilingual Stu­ dents (Canagarajah, 2002b) in teacher development courses and Rotten English (Ahmad, 2007) in undergraduate courses on writing. For teacher development courses, I have also used Casanave (2003) and Ferris and Hedgcock (2015) that adopt second language writing (SLW) orientations to complement my book. Some of the artifacts that emerged through the processes articulated above, such as the LAs of other students, drafts of one’s own writ­ ing, the journals, and classroom assignments also functioned as artifacts for learning. In some courses, the students read my LA (excerpted in this book, see Canagarajah, 2001) as an example of this genre. Though I didn’t codemesh extensively in that article, students sometimes discuss the idea of codemeshing from my article analyzing the writing of Afri­ can American scholar Geneva Smitherman (see Canagarajah, 2006). As we saw from the narrative in the previous chapter, students were also motivated to codemesh by observing the writing practices and texts of their peers. If the processes and artifacts are somewhat under the instructor’s control, structures are largely impersonal, translocal, and inconspicuous. Within these, we should consider the influences of political, material, and institutional structures. They could represent the dominant ideologies, policies, and norms in particular educational contexts. Consider dominant policies on what is good writing or appropriate language use in many academic institutions. They are conveyed to students through assessment procedures, institutional requirements, and curricular policies. These normative structures can indirectly (some­ times unwittingly) inform the feedback of the instructors and peers in the course. As a member of the teaching faculty, I cannot easily free myself from the dominant assumptions of academic writing in the university. Students have to negotiate the dominant structures of the academic institution through their own learning/writing strategies, depending on their motivations. We must acknowledge the pressure to score good grades that students may have to negotiate. Some students, therefore, limit their textual experimentation and voice representation in favor of safe grades. Other constraints such as material and lin­ guistic inequalities might also limit creativity. For example, some multilingual students possessed limited or marked linguistic resources in English. Consider also the web-based

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instructional system, Angel, used for many of my courses. The system structures commu­ nication between participants in certain unequal ways, positioning students and teachers in different statuses, providing power to teachers for setting agendas and topics for discussion. We will consider below how even these structural constraints are potential resources and creatively get entextualized in one’s written products. My assessment procedure is always aimed at encouraging negotiations with the class­ room ecological resources. In articulating the objectives behind the writing activity in the syllabus, I emphasize the development of dispositions and strategies through an active engagement with course resources. In order to facilitate this, the final portfolio is given considerable importance in the grade. I ask that the portfolio contain a reflective essay that focuses on their learning trajectories and rhetorical/linguistic realizations. To facilitate this reflection, I also conduct midterm and course-end online interviews with the students, eliciting information on the dispositions and strategies they are developing. Thus, students have to look beyond producing textual artifacts and focus on their learning and writing trajectories. These assessment procedures shape the learning process in a positive case of washback (Rea-Dickins, 2007). However, the finished product accounts for at least half the final grade, as I consider it important that the essay should reflect the writer’s control over language, coherence, and thematic focus, in deference to institutional requirements. The points for the finished product are designed to focus on such aspects as “narrowing down your subject, develop­ ing a trajectory, with a sound thesis statement; showing the significance of your biography to the field; creativity, engaging tone and style; and engaging with scholarly publications” (quoted from my syllabus). Though codemeshing or translanguaging are never mentioned as a requirement, many students engage in them for voice representation. In giving more weight to the finished product, I deferred to dominant expectations that it is an impor­ tant indicator of proficiency. However, I found that the finished product might not ade­ quately represent a student’s evolving strategies and dispositions. I will narrate in the next chapter how I have reconsidered its significance, as part of my own ongoing professional development. How these arrangements lead to constructive learning, writing, and literacy devel­ opment I have reported elsewhere in analytical studies (see Canagarajah, 2013, 2015). What I provide below is a narrative of the way these resources and pedagogies devel­ oped constructive dispositions for transnational writing. I narrate the learning experi­ ence and writing trajectory of a single student to show how these ecological resources entextualize her LA and account for the emergence of her transnational dispositions. While the research articles cited above demonstrate the pedagogical implications in more analytical ways, the narrative below shows the chronological and embodied emergence of dispositions and strategies. My analytical articles also didn’t provide much space to discuss my own dilemmas, conflicts, and revisions in knowledge and pedagogy. I reflect in the end how this pedagogy shaped my ongoing identity develop­ ment and teaching practices.

Emergence of dispositions In this narrative, I present a close analysis of the way a student, whom I will call Kyoko, negotiated the ecological resources in the classroom contact zone to shape her identities

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and interests in her LA. The narrative also shows how Kyoko benefits from the ecologi­ cal resources in her trajectory of disposition development. She triangulates the comments of her peers, their LAs, and reference readings to chart her own trajectory and voice. My teacherly discourses and roles were among the diverse ecological resources that Kyoko had to negotiate to shape her writing. Though my feedback as the teacher was sometimes at odds with what she wanted to achieve in her LA, it still served to remind her of insti­ tutional requirements and dominant norms in order to identify the ways she wanted to renegotiate them. There were diverse constraints in the classroom ecology for Kyoko that she had to strategically renegotiate to move toward her rhetorical objectives. We must note that both Kyoko and I – the protagonists in this narrative – are shaped by the social net­ works and material ecologies around us. Neither of us had total agency to achieve what we desired. Nor are our own dialogical interactions sufficient to account for all the outcomes in this literacy narrative. This story adopts my narrative point of view. There is no neutral perspective available for any narration. I am sensitive to other readings and represent my own dilemmas in interpreting my teaching and Kyoko’s progress. I offer this story as only one of many pos­ sible points of view on Kyoko’s literacy development. Moreover, I will demonstrate how my reading of Kyoko’s writing changes in the end when I receive additional ecological resources that recontextualize her texts and entextualize her voice differently. A brief introduction to Kyoko first. Kyoko was a Master-degree student in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) in her fourth and final semester in the US. She had completed a bachelor’s degree, with a major in linguistics, in Japan. She had taken courses on English as a foreign language at high school under Japanese teachers and a college-level course on English composition under an instructor from the US. She had also done a more advanced course on writing in Japanese and written a BA thesis on a topic in applied linguistics in English under a Japanese instructor who had graduate training in the US. Her early schooling had involved largely personal writing in Japanese under Japanese instructors, which she considered more creative and engaging compared to her later/advanced academic writing in English and Japanese, which she considered somewhat formulaic and detached. Kyoko was interested in returning to Japan to pursue a teaching career and departed soon after graduating. She always identified herself as an EFL (English as a foreign language) student and teacher and considered her professional and writing development from the standpoint of her home country and her future as a teacher in Japan. In a web posting to introduce everyone in the course, Kyoko announced her presence in a memorable way. After mentioning her name, degree program, and country, Kyoko added: #1. I’m in the middle of taking in North American academic discourse, and I have been struggling with how I express myself in L2 writing. I feel like being in the mid­ dle of nowhere when I write in English. I was struck by this representation of struggle and confusion, considering the fact that other students, especially Americans, prefer to put their best foot forward and present themselves as able and confident. Others boasted about their past achievements, present ambitions, and future success – all missing in Kyoko’s ongoing presentation of herself.

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Though I initially interpreted this introduction as a reflection of her unfamiliarity with American academic culture, I encountered these sentiments again in drafts of her writing. This is how she begins her LA: #2. For me, wiring [writing] always associates with pain and embarrassment. When I imagine my journal to be accidentally or intentionally read by someone, I cannot stop worrying. I would prefer reading others’ voice to writing my voice. After all, I’m too self-conscious to keep on journaling. So, have I had excessive self-conscious­ ness since I was born? [. . .] I became lazier as I went on to a high school. I had still hated myself, which made me apathetic to learning at school. All I did in a class was napping, daydreaming, observing other classmates or teachers and giggling with my friends. Despite of my apathy toward learning, I had kept a relatively good grade at almost all subjects, which was due to my deep and long attention span. Without clear vision in my future, I just lived in a moment. . . . I knew I had no creativity in writing, and I was not brave to venture to disclose my shame. (D2) Such statements struck me as self-deprecating and diffident. Others might interpret them more favorably as self-critical and painfully honest. Perhaps the scholarly literature on con­ trastive rhetoric influenced my interpretation. I was reminded of the pedagogical discourses on East Asian students as uncomfortable with adopting individualistic stances (Atkinson, 1997; Fox, 1994; Ramanathan & Atkinson, 1999; Ramanathan & Kaplan, 1996). This scholarship presented the rhetorical preference of East Asian students as differing from the expressiveness, self-assertion, and critical thinking of Americans. Influenced by my critical pedagogical disposition, I always nudged students toward more agentive, agonistic, and reflective writing. An opportunity presented itself when Kyoko’s turn came up during a whole class dis­ cussion of students’ drafts for collaborative feedback. It was designed to encourage students to comment on each other’s drafts. I wrote the following questions to guide the discussion on Kyoko’s draft: #3. How is Kyoko presenting herself through these statements? Would you consider this passive and deferential? Does this attitude characterize her whole essay? . . . Is there indirect criticism here [of school writing]? Can she develop this further? Would a more critical attitude make this essay better? I was surprised, however, when the comments of some students revealed that they read Kyoko’s narrative and dispositions differently from me. Chrissie wrote: “I see multiple selves in Kyoko’s writing or multiple identities – Japanese, middle child, good student. Although these are obvious to me she doesn’t talk about them explicitly in the context of identity.” While I was focused only on Kyoko’s authorial identity (i.e., narrating self ), Chrissie was interested in the identities Kyoko represented in her text (i.e., narrated self ). In the latter identities, Kyoko had demonstrated courage by questioning her unfair treatment in her fam­ ily, as she was a middle child and the only girl. She had narrated how the eldest and youngest boys were always given preferential treatment, presumably according to Japanese tradition.

Dispositions of transnational literacies 107

Tim focused on a different set of identities – i.e., that of institutional roles, such as teacher/student relationships. He mentioned: There is the issue of desirability (what does the teacher [want] and what can I do to get a positive response) bound up in the identities we take on in these situations (student v teacher, employee v employer). . . . I feel that these exist (for myself and perhaps Kyoko) no matter how ‘cool’ or ‘open’ a teacher/boss is. He wondered to what extent anyone (in East or West) can be critical or resistant of peo­ ple in authority, like teachers or employers. Since criticality has to be tactful and perhaps subdued in these relationships, he interpreted Kyoko’s criticality as taking less obvious or direct representations. Such interpretations, it turns out, were not lost on Kyoko herself. They provided a counterpoint to my interpretation that she was not being critical or independent. In this way, her social network in the class provided her a way to recontextualize her texts in a different communicative ecology. For example, Tim’s statement on understanding critical­ ity in a context-sensitive way, without employing it in an abstract or universal construct, helped Kyoko to reflect on the type of criticality she adopted from her home community. She wrote in a journal entry: #4. The negotiation of form topic [in the textbook] also made me consider about “critical” in EFL teaching and learning. In my opinion, the notion of critical itself is very western culture originated. Japanese doesn’t have the exact counterpart word of English “critical.” Of course we approach to one thing from diverse perspective in our own way, but, I don’t know why and how, there must be something different between two language cultures. As western democracy does not fit all the country, the concepts of intelligence, critical, negotiation, rights, and education might be slightly different in each culture. Kyoko is mulling over the possibility that criticality would be expressed differently in dif­ ferent communities. In order to represent the Japanese orientation to criticality, she defines it more broadly as “approach to one thing from diverse perspective.” In other words, she represents it as a negotiated position or triangulated thinking. Though not presented as a direct answer to my questions and feedback, it can be taken as a mild criticism of my treatment of critical thinking as similar for all students. Kyoko was suggesting that critical thinking is culturally shaped, and that criticality manifests itself differently in different contexts. Note also her use of “we” to position herself explicitly as an insider in her coun­ try’s discoursal preferences. Here we see the value of a CZ pedagogy. Kyoko was triangulating the diverse perspec­ tives she was receiving from her peers and instructor to formulate her own positions. As peer comments receive the same importance as mine in the web forum, she prefers to draw from the feedback of her peers. In this sense, the material structuring of the electronic forum and course design contribute to a different form of entextualization of student and teacher feedback. Student comments provide a different chain of texts, as an alternative to mine, for Kyoko to position herself and develop her dispositions differently. She thus receives different ecological resources to entextualize her text. The shift in positioning

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helps Kyoko to also read the textbook critically, interpreting my treatment of critical thinking in her own way. The diversity of participants who make up the social network provide resources for her triangulation, critical reflection, and disposition development. We begin to see the emergence of a “rooted translingualism” in Kyoko’s rhetorical sensitiv­ ity, a disposition we will see in a more pronounced way in her revisions and later journals. I define rooted translingualism as an appropriation of diverse semiotic resources, with a clear grounding in one’s own heritage community and its interests. I distinguish this from translingualism in superdiversity (Blommaert, 2015) and metroethnicity (Maher, 2010) where people draw from fluid resources without heritage grounding. Though we don’t see explicit codemeshing in Kyoko’s writing, the merging of registers and discourses is an indication of her evolving translingual disposition. The diverse feedback from students and Kyoko’s own resistant reflections provide more expansive ecological resources to help me, the teacher, to also progress in my own under­ standing of criticality and develop my professional dispositions. I had the good sense to emplace myself in the emerging ecology of social and textual networks, moving away from the somewhat biased contrastive rhetoric model within which I had situated Kyoko’s writ­ ing. Aware of the competing interpretations on criticality (i.e., as represented in published literature and my students’ views) and Kyoko’s own divergent views, I shifted my footing. I adopted a less directive approach in my feedback to Kyoko on her drafts to facilitate fur­ ther reflection. I asked her information-seeking questions, aimed at helping her reflect on her attitudes. Despite the seeming open-endedness of these prompts, we must realize that there are subtle value judgements in these questions as well. Since her early drafts narrated her struggles toward shifting to what she perceived as the “alien” discourse of academic English (see in #1 above the uncertainty and struggle of “taking in North American dis­ course” and being “in the middle of nowhere”), I asked her: #5. It appears then that your trajectory of development is “subtractive”-i.e., losing a form of literacy in order to acquire another. Do you see your development this way – or are you planning to narrate a different trajectory of development in this narrative? (There are ways of reconciling both traditions.) As I had articulated in my textbook through a review of publications that critique sub­ tractive bilingualism, I preferred a trajectory that draws from competing discourses and literacies to develop translingual third spaces (Canagarajah, 2002b, p. 172). Since Kyoko was already aware of subtractive bilingualism from the readings, I was showing the con­ nection between those constructs and her writing. My rhetorical question above suggests that I prefer a hybrid option. In response to such prodding, Kyoko engaged more critically in her writing process. My comments, together with the journal writing that provided a means of reflection, enabled her to develop a reflexive disposition toward her own rhetorical challenges. Consider the way she critiques the previous draft and explains the changes she plans to make in the next, in a journal entry: #6. In my second draft, I just described my memories of writing like talking to my friend. Then, I got stuck what to write my current situation; in other words, I was in the middle of nowhere not knowing how to connect the past and the present

Dispositions of transnational literacies 109

in a meaningful way. That was my second concern; how I can analyze my ongo­ ing writing development process. The comments from the class gave me a clue to explore the direction of my essay. I should be more objective by referencing articles or by approaching to an event from other perspectives. Until this time, I have never written autobiography in L1 as well as in L2. Once I started to write my literacy autobiography, it made me realize that literacy and my identity cannot be apart. [N]evertheless I don’t have a writing habit. This writing experience gave me an opportunity to reflect my own history, too. I mentioned my appreciation in the class already, but let me say that again. Thanks for all for your powerful comments! Kyoko identifies two challenges in her earlier drafts and charts a way forward. She recog­ nizes that she was too casual in her tone and lacked a direction. She now proposes to adopt a more objective and academic tone, as befitting an academic essay. She also gains more insight into her own writing dispositions. In addition to her continuing self-criticism and reflection on her “own history” of writing, she also achieves an insight into how literacy and identity are interconnected. This is a rhetorical sensibility we will see solidifying fur­ ther and shaping her LA in new directions. Beyond what she claims, there are other dispositions “enacted” through her writing practice, as evident in the statements above. She demonstrates a disposition to negotiate with diverse ecological resources for her writing development and learning. She mentions how the comments from her peers (and possibly the teacher) gave her clues as to which direction her writing should take. In addition, the process of writing itself makes her self-critical (note her mention “once I started to write” and “this writing experience”). We must also consider the value of journal writing, such as this one. Kyoko is receiving an opportunity to reflect on her choices and options. Through this journaling, she is able to identify her own writing background and dispositions more clearly. These ecological resources help her adopt a dialogical orientation to writing, develop greater self-awareness, and identify areas for revision. As she is now personally involved in a quest to understand criticality and the trajec­ tory of her development, Kyoko demonstrates a motivation to turn many other semiotic resources in the classroom ecology as affordances for self-directed learning. Finding a reference to an LA by Connor (1999), a Finnish professional, who narrated her trajectory of acculturating to American norms, Kyoko obtained the publication to read for herself. Connor narrates how her discoursal acculturation to American norms was so complete that she went on to become an American citizen and raise a family in the US. Kyoko expresses her discomfort with such an approach in her journal: #7. She [Connor] rejected her L1 background and has acquired a new identity as an American through her life in the US. However, I am not her, obviously. Neither do I want to deny my history nor become a mini American. I cannot smoothly sift [shift] my L1 to L2 as Connor does. Am I wrong? Departing from the trajectory of Connor’s LA, Kyoko leans toward acquiring English with­ out abandoning her own heritage. She is perhaps seeking a way to reconcile the competing discourses of Japanese and English in her writing. Though she is somewhat influenced by my earlier advice to move to a translingual position, she still wants to draw heavily from

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her own formative discourses in Japanese. Her irony about turning into a “mini American” is telling. Though she is still wondering how to incorporate her Japanese background into her writing in English, she is clear about what she doesn’t want to become. This rhetorical sensibility of what I earlier labeled “rooted translingualism” takes gradual shape through these negotiations. Note also her negotiation strategy here. She adopts Connor’s text for dialogical thinking. She uses it to frame her own search on negotiating competing home/ academic discourses. But she also resists Connor’s trajectory to chart her identity develop­ ment as a counterpoint. Kyoko finds a clue to resolve her dilemma when she reads a chapter from Critical Aca­ demic Writing and Multilingual Students (which she abbreviates as CAW). She engages in an invested reading and self-directed learning, inspired by the challenges posed by her writing and identity representation: #8. Right after reading Connor’s autobiography, I read CAW Chapter 4 to prepare for the last class. It gave an answer to my confusion. CAW refers to Connor as one example of development of self in writing, and offers us with other four approaches. I understood that my approach must be different from Connor as my first impression, and such divergence in expressing self might be all right. She is relieved to learn that there are diverse ways for multilinguals to resolve their iden­ tity conflicts. Connor’s trajectory of assimilation is only one of them. Two days later, she articulates in her journal an in-between position as a worthy alternative that might satisfy her concern for voice: #9. As long as I can refer to CAW chap 4, the concept of “third position” by Kramsh [sic]and Lam (1999) and the responses from ESOL students by Canagarajah (1999) exactly represents my current situation. Therefore, I’m planning to take the trans­ position approach at this stage. It’s difficult to be critical to analyze my own writing. The textbook defines “transposition” as an appropriation of competing discourses in the writer’s own terms to develop a translingual voice (Canagarajah, 2002b, p. 116). What we see then is that Kyoko is opting for a voice that merges resources from her heritage ( Japanese) literacy with the dominant conventions of the American academic context. Her reading and journaling serve to construct a textual chain that mediates and scaffolds her essay revisions. These publications (i.e., Connor, Kramsch, the textbook) serve to entex­ tualize Kyoko’s own LA. We must also appreciate Kyoko’s own invested negotiations with these texts to facilitate her learning and writing development. Certain other dispositions are only gradually developing. Her mention of “difficult to be critical to analyze my own writing” above refers to the difficulty of detaching herself sufficiently from her writing. These are the beginnings for Kyoko in refashioning herself in her LA by adopting the transposition approach. However, rather than being imposed by others, her identity con­ struction emerges through her own rhetorical struggles. Other ecological resources help in the development of this critical reflexivity. The facil­ ity for embedded comments in the word processing software helps her to have a conversa­ tion with herself and with her readers as she revises her LA. In her subsequent drafts, we see that she includes marginal comments, with questions about possible trajectories and

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rhetorical choices. She is apologetic at times and clarifies the purpose of her questions in a note to her third draft: “To those who read this draft, please ignore comments I inserted. I’m questioning myself by these comments” (D3). We see the development of a reflexive disposition, different from the personal, spontaneous, and subjective orientation earlier. We also see the demonstration of a negotiation strategy whereby Kyoko adopts an internal dialogue to develop her writing. It gradually became apparent that the essay genre (LA) also helped her in developing a reflexive disposition and metacognitive language awareness. In addition to helping her reflect on her trajectory, the somewhat personal genre acquainted her with the trajectories and experiences of peers from different communities. The collaborative writing process also helped her develop a critical reflection and awareness that could explain the shape of the more complex later drafts. Also, the LAs written by her peers (i.e., the drafts by Ruth, Buthainah, and Michael that we discussed in the previous chapter) are part of Kyoko’s ecological affordances. In this way, other students’ writings entextualize Kyoko’s essay. Kyoko journals: #10. By reading other students’ experiences, I realized that wiring [writing] devel­ opment is interconnected to the development of their personality. [. . .] We have many things to write about personal experience and opinions. However, the dif­ ficulty in teaching academic writing is to transit from personal to critical. I think literacy autobiography is an effective tool to shift from personal writing to critical writing. The writer can start from telling her own personal story, and then she can narrow down to specific and objective perspective through revision process. The identities and experiences of other multilingual students in the CZ classroom encour­ aged Kyoko to represent her own voice in her writing, exploring some creative envoicing strategies. It is evident that the narrative tropes of others in the class have given Kyoko the confidence to develop her own themes and tone. The diversity of styles and trajectories of others encouraged her to develop her own discourse and dispositions. Thus, the class is behaving as a community of practice, shaping each other’s writing interests and styles. We might consider this an indication of how Kyoko’s own language awareness is developing to accommodate diversity. Furthermore, Kyoko finds LA a congenial genre to gradually transition to critical writing. She perhaps finds this trajectory non-threatening because the genre allows for a range of representations. Kyoko also benefits from the composing process, a mediating factor we need to consider in the shaping of dispositions and texts. Evidently, the practice-based and socialization-influenced CZ pedagogy is facilitating such developments. At a more macro level, we see the influence of the present American class­ room ecology, which differs from the teacher-fronted and form-focused Japanese pedagog­ ical conditions she has experienced before (as it will emerge further below). Furthermore, the social networks in this class help the writer negotiate discourses and textual develop­ ment differently. Kyoko emplaces herself in the available resources in the current ecology to responsively develop her texts and dispositions. Her successive drafts show her seeking an appropriate way to merge her expressive discourse into a more objective writing, developing a translingual text. From being an unwieldy mix of semiotic resources, the text gradually shows authorial design. One of the vignettes that went through changes and shows the entextualization of these competing

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discourses is the following paragraph on a writing assignment in her high school. Consider an early draft, written before the reflections above: #11. I knew I had no creativity in writing, and I was not brave to venture to dis­ close my shame. Besides, I was not interested in a book report either because all the assigned books by teachers never inspired my interest . . . On the final day of the summer break, the day before the submission deadline, I finally settled down to work on writing. Facing blank writing paper, I had been bewildered for a long hours by fingering with a pencil. Then, suddenly, one unforgettable moment of the sum­ mer crossed my mind . . . I decided to write about my bitter-sweet feeling of saying good-bye to the old car and welcoming a new one. Once I got started to write, my deep and longer attention span assisted me to drive a pencil. Noise around me got mused, light around me got dark, and time flow stopped. I wrote, wrote and wrote as my heart tells. When I finished writing the last sentence, it was already at the break of dawn. While writing, my eyes were full of tears. It may be because I was so touched by recalling our dear old car, because I couldn’t see the goal of the writing, or because I was too exhausted by long hour writing. (D3) There is almost a mystical quality in the writing she did at night time. The romantic dis­ course of inspired lone writer gushing with feelings characterizes Kyoko’s writing in other places in her LA. Consider also the parallelism and rhythm in Noise around me got mused [muted], light around me got dark, and time flow stopped. I wrote, wrote and wrote as my heart tells. Notable also is the personification of the heart. Kyoko gives evidence of many instances of her writing in Japan that were expressive and got rewarded in some student essay competi­ tions, with her Japanese instructors exulting over their effectiveness. However, I didn’t interpret the essay the same way as her Japanese instructors did, given my own dispositions and institutional positioning in an American university. I drew Kyoko’s attention to what I considered the awkwardness of her excessive emotionality in her writing in my teacher feedback: #12. What is striking about your literacy is the high place you have given to feelings. Not only was your Japanese early writing emotional, this very narrative is emotional at places. You must theorize the high place you give for emotions in writing. Is this from your culture or is this your personal preference? . . . There are many directions in which you can take this narrative . . . . And I cried a lot when I read some sections of your narrative. (No, I am kidding. I am trying to respond like a Japanese writing teacher!) It is clear that I am entextualizing her semiotic resources in a different way from her Japa­ nese instructors. Though I am not directly criticizing her, I am trying to make her reflect on and theorize the place of emotions in her preferred discourse so that she develops a criti­ cal awareness of her writing strategies and dispositions. The parenthetical comment was an allusion to her Japanese instructors, whom Kyoko mentioned in her LA as responding to her writing with tears. At that point, I didn’t consider such sarcasm hurtful. In retrospect, it is possible that Kyoko felt insulted by such teacher feedback.

Dispositions of transnational literacies 113

Kyoko modified the discourse in her own terms in deference to the transposition approach she had identified for herself, demonstrating impressive negotiation strategies. For example, she completely omitted the following sentences from the fourth draft of her autobiography: When I finished writing the last sentence, it was already at the break of dawn. While writing, my eyes were full of tears. It may be because I was so touched by recalling our dear old car, because I couldn’t see the goal of the writing, or because I was too exhausted by long hour writing. She lessened or adjusted the degree of her feelings in her writing, though she didn’t omit the parallelism, personification, and poeticism of her prose. There is also evidence in her fourth draft of greater control over the language and text. In the body, she reduces or omits many parts with personal and emotional reflections and merges them with academic texts to build a more qualified hybridity. Consider the way she introduces some citations to back up her claim that Japanese literacy and education focus more on the whole person, unlike her experience with English literacy, which happened to be form-focused: #13. Since an elementary school classroom teacher addresses students’ whole per­ sonality, it builds an intimate teacher-student relationship. Several researches (Lewis, 1988; Easley & Easley, 1981; Lee et al., 1996; Stevenson & Stigler, 1992) state that Japanese elementary school teachers apply various approaches to encourage students cognitive and literacy skills in various subject areas. (D4) The citations show a new set of textual resources getting entextualized into Kyoko’s draft. They are academic publications from education. They suggest Kyoko’s recognition of the importance of using academic resources and merging them with her personal experiences in order to make her essay more relevant and effective. The terminology relating to peda­ gogical processes also suggests the influence of these textual resources on her evolving corpus of vocabulary. We thus see how some of the research readings become affordances for transposition. Kyoko journals her negotiation strategy adopted here, thus: “In revision process of 4th draft, I tried to connect my story to researches . . . . This time, I decided to cut intro and other tiny stories for coherence. Academic resources might have helped me to narrow down what I am going to say.” In keeping with the hybridization of transposition approach, however, Kyoko did not avoid expressive writing altogether. In the vignette cited in #12, she still preserved the poetic flow of her writing. Furthermore, her citations in #13 paradoxically refer to devel­ oping a “whole personality” and appreciating “an intimate teacher-student relationship.” Is she subtly making a scholarly case for feelings in writings? Is she citing these sources to prove the importance of feelings? Not surprisingly, she preserved some of her poetic and emotional passages from her previous drafts in her subsequent drafts. In the evolving trajectory of her text, we thus see demonstrated her changing language awareness. From valuing expressive prose, based on her primary socialization in Japan, she evolves to merge discourses and languages for certain interests. There is a resistant potential behind this hybridization, as she is positioned in her community values and discourses while accom­ modating the preferences of her current writing context.

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Kyoko might have been helped in this merging of the poetic and scholarly by the sup­ portive comments she received from her peers. Though my teacher feedback had dem­ onstrated a wariness of feelings in writing, her peers appreciated it. Cissy observed in her peer review: “In your literacy autobiography I see a very poetic writing, especially when there is an emotional memory, and that is something I wish my writing could be more like.” Michael mentioned: “The identity you write about in the start of the paper seems very different from the person who wrote such an interesting and personal story.” Michael’s interpretation was that Kyoko was deliberately adopting a strategy of a naïve narrator. In beginning the essay and this paragraph with her difficulties for voice, she had perhaps set us up for a surprise. We see that her peers are entextualizing Kyoko’s draft differently from me, probably influenced by the different dispositions and resources they bring with them. Their extensive interaction with Kyoko as a peer per­ haps provides them different ecological resources from what are available to me. Such diversity of responses – i.e., that of the peers conflicting with the instructor’s – gave Kyoko more resources for negotiation. She triangulates these responses for different forms of uptake as she formulates her own footing in the competing rhetorics and lit­ eracies. The expanding ecological resources, including her own journal reflections, her self-chosen reading materials, teacher feedback, and peer review, get entextualized in her narrative to shape a more hybridized prose that differs from the emotionality in the previous drafts. As Kyoko’s revision continues, her changes contribute to a layered discourse – one that merges expressivity and scholarly objectivity, innocence and irony, spontaneity and greater self-awareness, poetry and citations – in keeping with her transposition approach. However, the dramatic changes in her discourse also posed an interpretive problem for me. Though Kyoko is gradually changing my estimation of her dispositions and discourses, I was caught between different ways of entextualizing her writing. My dilemma was exac­ erbated by competing textual ecologies in which to situate her writing. For example, I was wondering if I should I situate her drafts in the contrastive rhetoric discourses or translingual ideologies? I will illustrate how I received more clues over time to situate her text differently and arrive at a different estimation of her writing, thus also enlarging my teacher dispositions. Consider the layering of a subtle irony in her final draft below. This is how she assesses her learning as she moved to college-level writing: #14. Once I learned the writing rules of a particular school of thought in Applied Linguistics, it was quite smooth to write a research paper since all I had to do was imitate their writing styles. Research design and implement processes made me real­ ize how to make up the findings “sound objective.” I gained some peculiar word usage in the field from reading articles, and I made repeated use of these words as children do when they learned a new vocabulary. My thesis advisor checked my draft a couple of times, and every time she said nothing but “you were doing well.” The final draft was edited by the “Mac enthusiast” native English speaking teacher. It was predictable that he corrected my all grammatical mistakes in detail. Of course, my findings were not one of the major finding in the 21st century. And of course, nobody knows my BA thesis is well done. (D6)

Dispositions of transnational literacies 115

At face value, this paragraph could be interpreted in the same vein as her diffidence, inno­ cence, and self-abnegation earlier. She could be confessing how she was apathetic in her school work, as she had done in the classroom introduction and opening draft. However, her statements could also be read as a thinly veiled criticism of the English-based writ­ ing pedagogies she encountered. Kyoko has perhaps developed sufficient linguistic and rhetorical confidence to be playful here. She could be subverting the dominant discourses pertaining to Japanese uncritical writing through her expression of performed passiveness. She is “playing up” the pedagogical practices and dominant discourses of impersonal aca­ demic writing to her advantage. While the tone is sarcastic, it also narrates how she was sarcastic in her writing practice in college. She certainly did not enjoy doing this kind of mechanical writing. Her teachers are not sufficiently orienting toward her argument. They give her perfunctory feedback or focus only on editing issues. The fact that this writing activity lacked purpose is also indicated by the final sentence where she says that these cop­ ing strategies did not eventually matter to anyone. No one was interested in the content in this product-oriented and formulaic writing pedagogy. What we see here is the surface level expression of passiveness, which is subverted by her critical awareness and discourse, representing a more complex and ironic voice. If this interpretation is justified, we can see a further complexity in Kyoko’s rhetorical sensibility. The sarcasm and criticism under the facade of rhetorical innocence is a tactful writing strategy. Given her demure personal­ ity, this is a less risky way of criticizing dominant writing pedagogies. Such a safe way of couching criticism is another rhetorical sensibility that shows development at this stage in her writing trajectory. Kyoko’s final draft showed a more focused theme and a clearer trajectory, in addition to a self-reflexive and layered prose, that also suggested a more developed language awareness and rhetorical sensibility. Kyoko opens her final draft as follows: #15. Close Encounter of the Alien Japanese is a part of my self. Japanese (L1) literacy development has addressed to my emotional, mental, cognitive, social, and intellectual growth as a whole person. On the other hand, my second language, English, especially academic writing is detached from my self. Possibly the current ESL discourse is limited in academic discourse which mainly address to intellectual competence. (D6) She concludes in her final paragraph: #16. My literacy development process started from a personal level, expression of my feelings, and then extended to more complex and intellectual language produc­ tion process. Through the socializing process via language, I have acquired various registers in Japanese. Although these development processes mainly occurred within schooling systems, the L1 literacy education addressed my whole personality devel­ opment so that I was able to internalize Japanese as my language. Entrance to English as a foreign language introduced me the forms of a new language, but its learning process failed to offer me contexts to internalize its language production and process­ ing processes. Current ESL academic context has been limited to classroom and aca­ demic texts, and I have never had a feeling provoking occasion yet. That is, English

116 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

was more detached and still alien to me. In the end, as a graduate student, academic writing is the final goal to master English. Perhaps, I am in the middle of the shift­ ing process of thinking in English from personal to objective, or from emotional to logical. And I don’t know how long it will take for me to master it. (D6) Here, again, I was torn between two possible readings. My first response was to focus on statements like “Japanese is part of myself . . . English is detached from myself.” This seemed to show that Kyoko hadn’t still moved beyond the native/non-native binary. She goes on to say that “English is still alien to me” and seemed to indicate that she hadn’t managed to appropriate the language for her interests. Much against her desired trajectory of transposition, she seemed to be caught in the binary. Furthermore, she still seemed to feel that her mastery of the discourses was not complete: “And I don’t know how long it will take for me to master (English).” Were these statements to be connected to her earlier apathetic and defeatist disposition? Was she being pessimistic about her ability to master English, literacy, and voice? Did she have any hope of becoming proficient in this lan­ guage? Or are these honest and self-critical observations coming from a position of mature awareness and strength? However, the evidence in the concluding paragraph and body of the essay gave more weight to a reading that treated Kyoko as considerably advanced in her writing strategies. Note that Kyoko has considerably sharpened her thesis with a succinct statement on her tra­ jectory. Though she mentioned diverse other trajectories in her introduction in her previous drafts (see #6), such as reading development and social orientations, she is focusing clearly on writing development in this version. The discourse is also more objective and formal in these sections (though she brings her expressivity in other places in the body). More impor­ tantly, there is a stronger affirmation of her heritage in this version. She begins “Japanese is part of my self ” and accentuates her evolving orientation of a rooted translingualism. That is, she displays ownership of Japanese and relates to other semiotic resources from this per­ spective. She thus indicates the manner in which her heritage (shaped by her first language, nationality, and cultural background) has a bearing on how she relates to English. We must also be sensitive to a layer of metaphors that provide a subtlety to her desired trajectory. There is a romantic metaphor of organic growth and unity between the writer, language, and voice (“growth as a whole person”). Kyoko suggests that she has such organic connection with Japanese but not with English. It is clear, however, that she is seeking this harmony with English also. It is because of this desire that Kyoko comments on her current alienation from English. In other words, Kyoko is not affirming stereotypical dichotomies and identities (i.e., Japanese as personal, English as formal; L1 as self, L2 as alien). She is seeking to transcend them through further investment, helped by relevant pedagogies and meaningful writing in English. In one sense, the limitations are due to ineffective peda­ gogies for ESL writing that she has experienced, as we saw in the paragraph cited earlier (#14). The romantic metaphors are reiterated in the concluding paragraph (note “whole personality development . . . internalize . . . feeling provoking occasion”) to index her desired relationship with English. The title adds another layer of complexity – i.e., “Close Encounter of an Alien.” Kyoko might be borrowing this metaphor from popular culture, such as manga and

Dispositions of transnational literacies 117

horror movies. However, in this case, we don’t know who is referred to as “alien:” Is English or Kyoko referred to as “alien?” Both indexicalities are possible in the context of her literacy autobiography. In either case, it is a frank but sarcastic acknowledgment of the uneasy linguistic encounter. In her conclusion, she demonstrates a bold humility and confident honesty in not knowing “how long it will take to master” English and academic literacy. Attaining an awareness of her desired trajectory (i.e., transposition) is different from actually achieving it. Achievement depends on various other factors, including grammatical control. And yet, Kyoko also displays her capacity to laugh at herself in the title. Despite the journey still to be continued in her rhetorical and dispositional develop­ ment, the conclusion brings out her optimism effectively. Kyoko succinctly summarizes her trajectory developed in the body paragraphs. She has come a long way from her obser­ vations in her earlier drafts and journals that she was “in the middle of nowhere” when writing in English. She is more optimistic in presenting her status now as “in the middle of the shifting process.” With her growing self-awareness, her attitude to language contact has also changed, endowing her with a mature language awareness. Her writing process through the semester has moved “from personal to objective” and “emotional to logical,” suggesting the evolution of her rhetorical sensibility. As we discussed in the previous sec­ tions, the drafts increasingly become more focused, objective, and analytical in response to teacher feedback. In saying “shifting process,” Kyoko is not referring to a unilateral tra­ jectory from one pole to the other. What she achieves and probably intends to achieve (in the context of her positions expressed in her journals) is a creative realization that merges conflicting discourses to develop a hybrid voice – as in the discourse of transposition or disposition of rooted translingualism. Though Kyoko has a strong preference for personal and expressive writing, she is able to layer it within the academic genre with appropriate objectivity and scholarly citations. The academic moves qualify the discoursal subjectivity in her essay, reducing the impression of deficiency that an emotional investment might convey. She is, however, able to rise above the possible silencing in an impersonal academic genre by making a place for her preferred expressive discourses. Such realization in her LA also suggests her skillful negotiation strategies. She emplaces herself in the available eco­ logical contexts to develop her dispositions and discourses. Notwithstanding the improvements in her prose, dispositions, and trajectory, I wasn’t fully persuaded to give Kyoko a high final grade. I didn’t see this rhetorical layering as well integrated or successfully achieved. I felt that additional revisions might be needed to pull all the divergent threads together and give greater coherence to the essay. I thought that the final draft showed her bringing different semiotic resources into her text without melding them into an effective whole. I didn’t think Kyoko had attained the linguistic competence and literacy maturity to weave these layers into an effective text. My eyes lingered on the grammatical mistakes and stylistic infelicities in the final draft (i.e., “intellectual language production process,” “introduced me the forms,” “academic writing is the final goal to master English,” in #16). I was disappointed that she hadn’t taken the essay to the tutoring center to edit the final draft closely. More importantly, her weak grammatical control made me treat her as an immature writer, who had to develop her competence further in order to write with the complexity I preferred to see. Therefore, I gave a B+ for her LA, with her course-final grade also computing to a B+.

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Afterthoughts After the semester ended, I had the time and motivation to access additional resources from the course, which situated Kyoko’s writing in a different ecological context. In keeping with my research interest, I had saved all the different drafts, journals, survey responses, and peer comments for later reading and close analysis. Those resources persuaded me toward a more positive interpretation of Kyoko’s writing and made me reassess her achievement. These additional textual resources gave me more insights into her literacy and communica­ tive dispositions. They also served to recontextualize her earlier drafts for a different inter­ pretation of her trajectory. The new textual resources provided a different communicative ecology to situate Kyoko’s writing and recontextualize her achievement. They revealed a different set of resources and contexts in her drafts, helping me entextualize her writing differently. Schön (1983, p. 26) would label this detached inquiry “reflection on action” – as distinct from the “reflection in action” that I adopted during the teaching of the course. Consider Kyoko’s journal entry in the early stages of the course: #17. I’ve been struggling with how I position myself in L2 context. After coming to an ESL setting, I realized how my literacy background is blessed in my own way. I am not taking over the L2 discourse but I’d rather take advantage of this differ­ ence as an ESL speaker, which might be a reason why I mentioned a lot about my L1 literacy development. Paradoxically, it is after entering an ESL setting that she appreciates her formative educa­ tional and literacy background in Japan as being “blessed in my own way.” This mention indicated to me that Kyoko was seeking a strategic positioning in the competing discourses and literacies of English and Japanese from the beginning of my course. My teacher feed­ back asking her to move closer to the dominant American academic norms in the final product is precisely what she didn’t want to do. She wanted to actively draw from her her­ itage language as she wrote in English. She considered it a blessing she didn’t want to lose as she progressed. How to appropriate academic English according to her own dispositions was a question that she seemed to have been struggling with all along. This realization confirmed to me that Kyoko was more aware of her trajectory in the final version and agentive in achieving the layered discourse than I had previously considered. I also gained more insight into her rhetorical sensibility that was disposed much earlier to rooted trans­ lingualism and appropriation. Kyoko even seemed to have worked out a negotiation strategy for finding directions in her rhetorical project as the course evolved. In her course-end reflection, she wrote: #18. I realized that knowing the rule is the first level of the game. If you want to win the game, you have to take an ownership of it. I think I was more submissive about learning (and teaching) academic writing. From this course, I learned a possibility of teaching writing to make learners be aware of negotiation. She is charting – or at least seeking – a course for negotiating with dominant language and rhetorical norms so that she can take ownership of language and literacy for her pur­ poses. This is a two-stage strategy – i.e., getting to know the rules of the game, then

Dispositions of transnational literacies 119

demonstrating ownership over the game through appropriating the rules. Her metaphor of understanding the rules of the game in order to play it to her advantage is remarkably perceptive of textual resistance. Perhaps the course had served to introduce her to the rules of the game. She was still learning how to reconfigure the rules to her advantage. She has progressed considerably in the second strategy of appropriation, though mastery or end point has not been reached, by her own admission. From this perspective, it is also clear that Kyoko had obviously learned a lot of things in the course despite her still evolving grammatical and textual control. Moreover, she had her own agenda on what she wanted to get from this course and how to position herself in relation to dominant norms. She was making good progress according to her own intended trajectory. Should I have given credit for this awareness development, though it didn’t translate into a good finished prod­ uct? It seemed that I was focusing more on the finished product (much against my espoused teaching philosophy) when Kyoko was focusing on negotiation strategies and awareness development. Furthermore, though I had focused more on her self-criticism, diffidence, and selfabnegation, I now encountered more evidence of her positive engagement with the eco­ logical resources and pedagogical practices in the course. These newly available texts during data analysis showed a greater self-awareness of her intended trajectory in literacy and disposition development and gave more credibility to the more agentive and complex reading of her end product. In a final course survey, she wrote: Reflecting this collaborative online activity on ANGEL, I really appreciate the advance of technology. We were able to communicate at any time. We also were able to accumulate and share the data on ANGEL. If these processes were all done by hard copies, it would be an opposite of current eco-friendly trend. :-) More important thing is, if we don’t have ANGEL, we would not be able to efficiently work together. She appreciates the value of the institutionalized structures for her learning development and negotiation strategies. She demonstrates an appreciation of collaborating with others and triangulating their perspectives for her own development. She also shows a reflexive awareness of the strategies she adopted in her writing development. Other course-end reflections demonstrated her appreciation of the writing practice for its performative value in clarifying her thoughts and directions: I wish I could produce more concise writing in a short time. It is not because Eng­ lish is my second language. I always take time to write in Japanese, too. However, I acknowledge that writing process provokes my thought and organize my thought. Looking back the trace of my learning of this course, now I can see an evidence of my knowledge construction and intellectual interaction with peers. I still hate writ­ ing, but at the same time I appreciate writing. Though the writing still evinces her usual humility and self-criticism in acknowledg­ ing her limitations and dislikes, she has learned the value of practice. The writing activities in this course (i.e., she mentions journal writing and online discussions in addition to LA writing) have helped motivate her and clarify her thoughts. Besides, the availability of the texts online has helped her develop a reflexive awareness of her

120 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

development. Her final statement shows a remarkable poise in acknowledging her con­ flicting feelings toward writing. The new textual resources helped me situate Kyoko’s final draft in a different ecology. These texts recontextualized Kyoko’s drafts and entextualized them into a different whole. It was now possible to consider my second reading of her final essay and her evolving trajectory – i.e., as a qualitative improvement toward a layered discourse of transposition and disposition of rooted translingualism – more justified. I wondered whether I should have given more credit to Kyoko for her rhetorical achievement, literacy development, and awareness than I was prepared to earlier. Though there were limitations of textual and grammatical form in her final draft, I wondered if her progress in other areas deserved a higher grade.

Outcomes The narrative above describes how Kyoko engaged with the classroom ecological resources to turn them into affordances for her own writing and disposition development. As expected in a socialization- and practice-based CZ pedagogy, she engaged with the classroom ecol­ ogy to transform resources into affordances for her progress. As we see, she performs a selfdirected reading of course artifacts (such as the textbooks, reference readings, and peer’s essays) based on her own agenda of negotiating the competing discourses from Japanese and American academic communities for her writing and identity. Her progress is not completely self-reliant. It emerges in dialogical interactions with peers and the instructor. Their feedback and suggestions, though divergent, provide affordances for Kyoko’s writing development. Kyoko is compelled to triangulate their views to discover suitable options for her. Her dialogical interactions help Kyoko to juxtapose my views (which are sometimes unsympathetic, partly because of my institutionalized location) with those of her peers and her own interests to formulate her own trajectory. As we see above, she also mentions how the practice of writing journals and multiple drafts helped her development. The web-based platform of the course for collaboration and reflexive awareness also became a resource. However, not all resources are under Kyoko’s control. Some ecological resources influence her in more subtle ways. If she adopts a more agentive alignment of resources with her objectives and dispositions for her desired development, she adopts a more respon­ sive emplacement for the impersonal and constraining resources. For example, the norms and expectations of the American higher educational institution (often finding expression through my teacher feedback) are difficult to resist. But Kyoko works along with them to develop a hybridized discourse that accommodates competing interests. Consider also that the classroom ecologies in the US are different from those of Japan, both constraining her options and providing new resources for her rhetorical objectives. Similarly, though Kyoko has grammatical and lexical limitations in English, she is able to work with other ecologi­ cal resources to accomplish her rhetorical objectives. More importantly, the texts from the course, voices from her peers and instructor, and her own prior texts from her journals and pedagogical activities entextualize her LA in ways that are too subtle and layered for explicit analysis. Kyoko’s responsive emplacement in these resources contributes to her trajectory of rooted translingualism. In negotiating the available classroom ecological resources in relation to her writing practice, Kyoko developed significant dispositions that are bound to help her literacy

Dispositions of transnational literacies 121

progression. It is important to note that her dispositions are not static; they changed through the course as she engages with the classroom ecology. Nor are these dispositions new; she already brought certain dispositions that possibly help her in her present trajec­ tory of development. For example, she came to the course with an endearing honesty, spontaneity, innocence, and self-effacing humility, all of which facilitate very constructive negotiation strategies. As she engages with the pedagogy and classroom ecology, she dem­ onstrates stronger forms of self-criticism, reflexivity, objectivity, detachment, resistance, and irony. She also brought a confident grounding in her Japanese rhetorical and literacy background that facilitate a healthy development of rooted translingualism as a rhetorical sensibility that marks her development. Also, in coming with a strong awareness of the connection between writing, textuality, and identity representation (as she wrote once in her early journal entry), she is open to a language awareness that develops a layered dis­ course in the end. It is useful to conclude by identifying the dispositions Kyoko has developed through the course socialization. While I examine the three dispositions identified earlier, we must note that they are not compartmentalized. They are connected and enable each other. Consider rhetorical sensibility first. Most striking is the way she develops a position of rooted translingualism. That is, she chooses to ground herself in her heritage/formative Japanese discourses as she charts her future in English language learning and literacy. In order to use English in relation to her own values and interests, she identifies a hybridized discourse as the answer. What she labels “transposition” suggests a rhetoric of negotiating competing discourses rooted in her community. She has to take risks and experiment with textuality to find the best way to represent the seemingly conflicting discourses in her identity and writing. Finding the right balance draws from (and, paradoxically, further develops) her rhetorical sensibility. We can see also that her language awareness evolves. The tangible evidence is the way her prose changes from direct, personal, and emotional to layered, subtle, and more objective. The language becomes more nuanced. Though the abstractions, jargon, and passives might sound a bit awkward at times, they show her on her way to finding a balance in merging registers. While Kyoko doesn’t codemesh in her essay, she engages with a repertoire of registers in English in relation to her desired voice. In crafting her voice in English writing in a manner that approximates her values and interests, she is developing certain disposi­ tions and strategies that will also help her in negotiating diverse languages and semiotic resources. Though she grapples with understanding the dominant genre conventions and semiotic norms, she is intent on going beyond established understandings in pursuit of her own interests. In this, she shows a leaning toward creative and critical language use that will help her in translingual practices. Her language awareness also develops to being resourceful despite her grammatical constraints. As she faces insufficient mastery of English grammar, she emplaces herself in other discoursal and institutional ecologies to gain from them for her voice. She aligns voice, genre conventions, and other rhetorical considera­ tions in her writing to make up for her grammatical constraints in accomplishing her rhe­ torical objectives. What enables her in this emplacement is her belief that writing is more than language or grammatical correctness. This awareness, paradoxically, enables her to be more critical and creative in her adoption of English verbal resources for her purposes. The negotiation strategies she develops in her learning and writing process also constitute useful dispositions for her ongoing literacy development. She learns to negotiate diverse

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texts and voices in relation to her predispositions and values. Without seeking easy options of one extreme or the other, she opts to find third spaces that can both be progressive and relevant to her own locus of enunciation. To move forward, she finds LAs by her peers and other scholars a scaffold for her own writing. This is not always a passive relationship. Sometimes, these scaffolds suggest to her how she should diverge from their trajectory to meet her own objectives, as in her use of Connor’s LA. She also demonstrates an adap­ tive strategy. As she encounters new texts and directions, she adopts them in her own way for her development. She is willing to be socialized into new discourses and literacies by agentively triangulating the divergent voices in the classroom and learning from practice. This disposition will also help in her ongoing learning in transnational social spaces where diversity and unpredictability are the norms. More importantly, she realizes that writing and learning are about developing strategies rather than acquiring propositional knowl­ edge. She is therefore focused on refining her negotiation strategies and disposition devel­ opment rather than being worried about grammatical correctness or finished products. In being open to such a practice-based learning, she is able to adopt the situated negotiations that we have seen above – i.e., negotiations that are strategic, responsive, and triangulated. Thus, her LA becomes performative. She is not only narrating identities in her LA; her writing represents her achieved identity. The LA helps her to craft her identity through the writing process. The text makes her understand her trajectory better, give shape to her past learning, and project imagined future identities and rhetorics. It also facilitates changes in her dispositions. In short, Kyoko is finding herself through her writing. This learning of the performative nature of writing might be considered a rhetorical sensibility in itself. Though these dispositions don’t contribute to an exemplary final product – i.e., one that is grammatically perfect and rhetorically integrated – they set Kyoko up for further learning and development that are more valuable in the long run.

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Atkinson, D. (1997).A critical approach to critical thinking in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 33(1), 71–94.

Blommaert, J. (2015). Commentary: Superdiversity old and new. Language and Communication, 44(1),

82–89. Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Canagarajah, A. S. (1999). Resisting linguistic imperialism in English teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Canagarajah,A. S. (2001).The fortunate traveler: Shuttling between communities and literacies by econ­ omy class. In D. Belcher & U. Connor (Eds.), Reflections on multiliterate lives (pp. 23–37). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Canagarajah,A. S. (2002a). A geopolitics of academic writing. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Canagarajah, A. S. (2002b). Critical academic writing and multilingual students. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Canagarajah, A. S. (2006). The place of World Englishes in composition: Pluralization continued. College Composition and Communication, 57, 586–619. Canagarajah, A. S. (2013). Negotiating translingual literacy: An enactment. Research in the Teaching of English, 48(1), 40–67. Canagarajah, A. S. (2015). “Blessed in my own way”: Pedagogical affordances for dialogical voice construction in multilingual student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 27, 122–139. Casanave, C. P. (2003). Controversies in second language writing: Dilemmas and decisions in research and instruc­ tion.Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

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Connor, U. (1999). Learning to write academic prose in a second language:A literacy autobiography. In G. Braine (Ed.), Non-native educators in English language teaching (pp. 29–42). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Duff, P. A. (2008). Language socialization, higher education, and work. In P. Duff & N. Hornberger (Eds.), Language socialization: Encyclopedia of language and education (pp. 267–270). Boston: Springer. Ferris, D.,& Hedgcock, J. (2015).Teaching L2 composition: Purpose, process, and practice. NewYork: Routledge. Fox, H. (1994). Listening to the world: Cultural issues in academic writing. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English. Guerra, J. (2004). Putting literacy in its place: Nomadic consciousness and the practice of transcul­ tural repositioning. In C. Gutierrez-Jones (Ed.), Rebellious readings:The dynamics of Chicana/o literacy (pp. 19–37). Santa Barbara: Center for Chicanao Studies and University of California at Santa Barbara. Guerrattaz, A., & Johnston, B. (2013). Materials in the classroom ecology. The Modern Language Journal, 97, 779–796. Gumperz, J. J. (1992). Contextualization revisited. In P.Auer & A. di Luzio (Eds.), The contextualization of language (pp. 39–53).Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Kramsch, C., & Lam, E.W. S. (1988).Textual identities:The importance of being non-native. In G. Braine (Ed.), Non-native educators in English language teaching (pp. 57–72). Mahwah, NJ: LEA. Maher, J. C. (2010). Metroethnicities and metrolanguages. In N. Coupland (Ed.), The handbook of language and globalization (pp. 575–591). Oxford:Wiley-Blackwell. Ramanathan, V., & Atkinson, D. (1999). Individualism, academic writing, and ESL writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 8, 45–75. Ramanathan,V., & Kaplan, R. (1996). Some problematic “channels” in the teaching of critical thinking in current L1 composition textbooks: Implications for L2 student-writers. Issues in Applied Linguistics, 7, 225–249. Rea-Dickins, P. (2007).Washback from language tests on teaching, learning and policy: Evidence from diverse settings. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 14, 1–7. Schön, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner. New York: Basic Books. Soliday, M. (1994). Translating self and difference through literacy narratives. College English, 56(5), 511–526. Sullivan, P. (2003). Composing culture:A place for the personal. College English, 66(1), 41–54. Thrift, N. (2007). Non-representational theory: Space, politics, affect. London: Routledge. Van Lier, L. (1997). Observation from an ecological perspective. TESOL Quarterly, 31, 783–787. Van Lier, L. (2004). The ecology and semiotics of language learning. Norwell, MA: Kluwer. Young, M. (2004). Minor re/visions:Asian American literacy narratives as a rhetoric of citizenship. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

6 ேற் றது கே மண ் ணளவு ேல் லாதது உலேளவு

When I saw Kyoko at the year-end department party in a faculty member’s house just before Kyoko was to travel back to Japan. I thought I should have one final conversation about her writing develop­ ment and explain my grade. Kyoko had impressed me as an intriguing student with hints of subtle resistance to my pedagogical practices that left me uneasy. I had mixed feelings about the grade for her course performance. As I wandered about with a glass of red wine in my hand, I saw that Kyoko was busy talking to her friends. I managed to attract her attention for a brief private conversation. I explained that though she had made remarkable progress in her writing, I would have given her a higher grade if she had only submitted to me a better finished product. Many other students had taken their essays to the tutoring center, heeding my advice before final submission, I mildly chastised her. To my surprise, Kyoko smiled in her demure manner, turned back, and joined her friends with a shrug. I was hoping that Kyoko would give some excuse (such as lack of time, which students usually prof­ fered) or ask me to reconsider the grade (as some students in this course had already done). Her response intrigued me. It appeared that Kyoko was leaving the course and the university with composure about her achievements in the course. Her silence suggested a disaffiliation with my assessment of her perfor­ mance. She was refusing to vindicate my assessment, pedagogy, and professional expertise. What made me reread all of Kyoko’s course artifacts with greater care was this chance meeting and conversation at the year-end party. That meeting initiated a process of reflec­ tion and reevaluation that has contributed to my own further pedagogical and rhetorical development. This conversation recontextualized her words and texts for a different inter­ pretation. In articulating in this concluding chapter my own development, I hope to con­ vey that transnational LAs have learning implications for teachers, too, as we collaborate with students in developing their writing practice. The new information and realizations (narrated in the conclusion of the last chapter) have made me reflect critically on my pedagogy in contexts of diversity in the contact zone. I start with the questions on assessment, as I am always troubled by the thought that I probably gave Kyoko an unfair grade. It seems to me that I might have understood the coherence of her writing, voice, and intentions better if I had known what I know now about her interests and expectations for this writing project. I now have more information

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and a richer ecological context to situate her performance. They entextualize her writing differently. Her objective of developing a rooted translingualism, focusing on dispositions and strategy development rather than correctness, and achieving a trajectory of learning rather than reaching an end point make me reconsider my assessment. Though some of the limitations in grammar, editing, and coherence are not to be ignored, I wonder if I should have given so much importance to the final product. What would it take to value the process of learning and writing – involving an engagement with ecological resources, negotiating meaning with other textual artifacts, and triangulating positions in relation to peer and teacher feedback? The strides Kyoko has made in developing her dispositions and strategies suitable for transnational writing are impressive. These dispositions are eventually more critical for one’s rhetorical sensibility and literacy competence than the ability to produce a grammatically flawless final product. The dispositions and strategies show that Kyoko has identified and started moving toward a promising trajectory of learning and writing that will lead to valuable outcomes. What would it take to value process over product, dispo­ sitions over skills, and strategies over texts in writing assessment? Though I was wise to include a space for formative assessment, I didn’t go far enough when I weighted the final grade in favor of the finished product. This experience left with me with questions on my own rhetorical sensibility. Despite my openness to linguistic and cultural diversity, I was still biased in the way I considered how criticality and agency might find realization in voice representation. Reconsidering Kyoko’s trajectory, I wondered if criticality might find realization in ways suitable to students’ own cultures. Kyoko attempts an indirect and modulated criticality that is not too expressive or direct. Apart from her voice in her writing, her own positioning toward me and the course demonstrates a criticality that is subtle. Such an expression of agency perhaps suits better her writing expectations, primary socialization in Japan, and rhetorical interests. Ironically, it would sound self-contradictory for critical pedagogy to impose an essentialized notion of criticality and agency that prevents students from adopting different voices and rhetorical strategies for their interests. I am becoming open to appreciating different representations of critical thinking and resistant voice from students from diverse backgrounds. Secondly, I am also left with new questions on the acceptability of hybridity as a resolu­ tion to competing discourses. I had to reconsider how academic textual hybridity might accommodate a higher level of feelings and expressivity than even open-minded scholars typically accept. Hybridity is an ambiguous construct (Canagarajah & Lee, 2014). What mix of competing discourses is acceptable in hybrid texts for specific contexts of commu­ nication? Though teachers and scholars in the West are open to hybrid realizations of texts, they still expect a greater conformity to dominant (or their own preferred) norms and conventions. Renditions that are distant from one’s expectations are dismissed as contex­ tually inappropriate. What Kyoko achieves in her mix of feelings and argumentation, the personal and the scholarly, spontaneity and reflexive wasn’t satisfactory to me, as I expected even greater accommodation to Western academic norms. Given her groundedness in Japanese expressive traditions, and her commitment to find a way to appropriate English in relation to these interests, her approach might be the best resolution for her. Therefore, I also had to ask myself the extent of the personal, expressive, and poetic that is appropriate for the LA in an academic context. Finally, I was left with pedagogical reconsiderations. I realized that students’ weak gram­ matical control should not be mistaken for lack of awareness, reflexivity, or complexity.

126 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

One’s awareness transcends grammatical proficiency, despite the traditional representa­ tionalist belief that language encodes knowledge and thought. More importantly, students’ grammatical proficiency in a second language shouldn’t motivate us to judge their intel­ ligence, maturity, or sophistication. It is evident that I considered Kyoko as naïve in the beginning of the course. I didn’t consider her sufficiently self-aware or reflexive. I also con­ sidered her disposition as overly self-effacing, humble, deferential, and passive. However, the new information at the end of the course suggested that she was deeply aware of her challenges, options, preferences, and trajectories. Beneath her demureness was a resistant and critical disposition that I failed to appreciate till the end. She was also to a consider­ able degree self-directed, processing texts and interactions in relation to her interests. I had been condescending, interpreting her low grammatical control as lack of awareness. Given the multilingualism and multimodality of expression that my courses have been open to, it is not impossible to see how voice and thinking might find development and representation in surprising ways beyond words.

The story continues I return to my pedagogical negotiations with Kyoko often. There are many features tragic about teaching experiences like this. Teachers are expected to assess based on their still evolving knowledge about their students’ learning and development in a course. However, we can never fully understand the values, interests, and expectations of our students to guide them in their own preferred trajectories. Their values and interests might in fact change during our very teaching. Despite such unknowns, we are expected to give a grade to sum up a student’s performance and development. We live in an assessment culture where everyone and everything has to be graded. Worse still, our pedagogical and assessment approaches can be detrimental to learn­ ing and identity development. In what appeared to be Kyoko’s apathy for a discussion of grades in my final conversation, I saw perhaps her foreboding and exasperation on what this grade might mean for her future. I wonder if this grade would keep her away from a desired teaching position. Would it jeopardize Kyoko’s plans for further studies? More importantly, “judging writing is judging selves” (to use the title of an article by Faigley, 1989). It is not a text that we are assessing. As it is clear in Kyoko’s case, we are also assess­ ing the representation of her identity, the presentation of her values and preferences, and the formation of her dispositions. More than being a mere comment on one’s text, such judgements go on to shape students’ identities and dispositions. Could I have damaged Kyoko’s sense of her desired voice, identity, and trajectory with my assessment? Did I subtly pressure her to change her identities and goals? There are thus ethical questions behind writing assessment. What such ruminations imply is that teaching is both a gift and a responsibility. In giv­ ing us the privilege of engaging so closely with students and shaping their lives, it remains a meaningful and consequential profession. However, this same privilege leaves us open to causing harm to students’ lives. We have to be careful how we engage with students and intervening in their identities and trajectories. How do we leave them empowered and enabled rather than damaged? This dilemma should persuade us that teacher develop­ ment never stops. Though we may not find satisfactory answers to the ethical questions on teaching and assessment, we should continue to reflect critically on our assumptions and

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practices, developing dispositions that are more responsive to the needs of our students, interests of their communities, changes in social conditions, and advances in scholarship. If I had any illusions that after years of experience teaching I’ll be able to formulate a method and curriculum that guarantee success in all my classes, they were shattered after my experience with Kyoko. I am resolved to keep learning as I continue teaching. There are additional reasons why teachers are compelled to be perpetual learners who develop their teaching approaches from the ground up. Spack (1997) cautions: “Teachers should be careful not to create curricula on unexamined assumptions about what students will need to succeed. . . . We cannot safely predict what texts and activities will be most beneficial for our students’ development” (p. 8). She learns this lesson from a teaching experience simi­ lar to mine, after she had misunderstood the expectations and misjudged the trajectories of another Japanese student. Furthermore, our understandings of such questions as “what is literacy” and “what is learning” are also changing with continuing research, changing social conditions, and new theoretical paradigms. Geopolitical conditions in relation to transnationalism, for example, are generating greater diversity in all social spaces. As we grapple with these changes, we are undertaking relevant epistemological shifts that broaden our understanding of knowledge, communication, and community. These developments have significant implications for our pedagogical practices and teaching philosophies. For all these reasons, 30 years after starting to teach, I am still learning valuable lessons on teaching practice, academic literacies, and pedagogical relations. In light of my life expe­ riences and my ongoing teaching practice, I am always “becoming” a teacher. I shouldn’t be surprised by this moral. The ancient Tamil saying by the poetess ஒளனையாை ் that forms the title of this chapter (transliterated as kaRatu kaimmaNNaLavu kallaatatu ulakaLavu) can be translated as: “What we have learned is a fistful; what we haven’t learned is a world full.” The proverb inculcates humility toward teaching, scholarship, and pedagogical relations. To accommodate such ongoing learning, I typically undertake two activities that have been helpful. First, I always adopt a research orientation to my teaching. Sometimes the research is disciplined and formal; at other times I reflect on ongoing classroom happenings in relation to theoretical and empirical publications. As for formal research, methods such as teacher research or action research provide useful guidelines on how to merge teaching and inquiry (see for detailed guidance, Lankshear & Knoble, 2004). The need for merg­ ing teaching and research is so compulsive for me that I now obtain approval from the Institutional Review Board and consent from my students at the beginning of a semester for almost every course I teach. Even though I might not get an opportunity to analyze the data, I still find the exercise of approaching my teaching with scholarly curiosity ben­ eficial. Saving the multiple drafts of the students, their online interactions, journals, and other course artifacts has enabled me to revisit the courses I teach when I find the time. Usually, it is at the end of the course, during inter-semester breaks, that I am able to look at the data closely. A second practice I find useful is narrativizing my teaching experience. As scholars in teacher development have argued, narratives can facilitate critical reflection, learning, and theorization for practitioners ( Johnson & Golombek, 2011). It is for this reason that I adopt LAs in my writing courses and teacher development courses. However, I too engage in this writing periodically to reflect on my own experiences. The functions identified in teacher narratives – i.e., externalization, verbalization, and examination ( Johnson & Golombek, 2011,

128 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

p. 488) and my addition of representation – are true in my case as well. In narrating my teaching experiences, I am able to bring out feelings and experiences that are forgotten, ignored, or suppressed. As I verbalize them in a narrative, I give these experiences order and coherence. As I externalize experiences and verbalize to provide shape, I am being analytical in relation to certain evolving themes and trajectories. The narrative thus not only generates new insights into my experiences but may facilitate ongoing identity con­ struction and pedagogical design. This book embodies my evolved identity and rhetorical positions. I will discuss in the rest of this concluding chapter how these practices have contributed to my teacher development and my understanding of writing in transnational spaces. My interactions with student writers affect not only my view of teaching; they also continue to develop my view of writing.

Changes in my teaching practice The best way to illustrate how my teaching practice and philosophy are changing is to compare my current realizations with the pedagogy I articulated in my book Critical Aca­ demic Writing and Multilingual Students (Canagarajah, 2002b). This book was used as a text for my courses on teacher education on writing (as we saw in the previous chapters). It influenced the dialogical, practice-based, and ecological orientation to pedagogy that I have adopted in my teaching. I feel that the pedagogical principles are sufficiently flexible and open to facilitate meaningful classroom interactions, literacy practices, and learning. As we found in the chapters above, students like Kyoko and Buthainah have expressed an appreciation of this pedagogical design to facilitate their voices and learning (also reported elsewhere – see Canagarajah, 2013b, 2015). However, in retrospect, I see the need for a change in the operationalization of these pedagogical principles. The problem was that I wasn’t sufficiently open-minded to negotiate meanings and norms with my students and see alternate possibilities in their text construction and identity representation. This is not an easy realization. As teachers, we are influenced by dominant norms and ideolo­ gies as represented in scholarship, textbooks, institutional policies, and social discourses to discourage writing practices that stray too far from them. In this regard, I find it impor­ tant to change my beliefs and values about acceptable language and literacy practices that pedagogy generates. These changes have implications for assessment and other aspects of negotiating and responding to student writing. The following are some directions for my ongoing professional development: •

Reconsidering the place of textual products in course outcomes. If dispositions, awareness, and writing strategies transcend grammar/textual realization in literacy development (as mentioned earlier), I have to give credit to the diverse ways they express themselves. Also, I have to give equal importance to the other activities of the course, such as journals, interviews, and peer interactions, which show the develop­ ment of rhetorical sensibility, negotiation strategies, and language awareness, beyond the finished product. How do I develop an assessment for dispositions, shifting away from an emphasis on the text? I now prefer to focus on the following three con­ structs: depth of awareness, extent of reflexivity, and trajectories of learning. Through the journals, drafts, peer feedback, and end-of-semester surveys and portfolio, I have

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the opportunity to see how students grow in these dispositions required for critical, engaged, and creative writing. Depth of awareness refers to the transformative potential of dispositions such as language awareness, rhetorical sensibility, and negotiation strat­ egies (outlined earlier). Extent of reflexivity can be assessed in relation to how students develop a more explicit and critical understanding of their investment in writing and learning, the values and interests that shape their voices, and their desired/imagined futures. Trajectories of learning indicate the progress they are making in negotiating diverse discourses and knowledge traditions to reach new stages of learning, discourse, and negotiation in relation to their interests. While some students (especially “native English speakers” like Cissy and Tim) produced well edited final products, they failed to display sufficient reflective awareness or striking learning trajectories as Kyoko did. They didn’t advance too far in their understanding of the nature of language and literacy from their habituated dispositions and normative knowledge they brought with them in the beginning of the course. On the other hand, multilingual students like Kyoko and Buthainah failed to demonstrate advanced control over grammar but achieved a promising learning trajectory that assured further development. Kyoko not only developed clarity about her trajectory but composed a layered text that merges different discourses. She was also experimental and took risks in trying out new rhe­ torical strategies. In undertaking this learning trajectory, she displayed remarkable reflexivity on the competing languages and literacies she encountered. She was able to detach herself from these languages and borrow from them, based on her reflexiv­ ity. She demonstrated evolving clarity on her own interests, values, and agendas in her revisions. Though she herself acknowledged that her grammatical and structural mastery was not complete, I should have given her more credit for finding her foot­ ing in the conflicting discourses, charting her own trajectory for voice, and displaying reflexivity on her evolving awareness. Giving more importance to formative assessment in my teaching. This deviates from the summative assessment of the end product of a course, typical in grading practices of tra­ ditional pedagogies. Formative assessment focuses on the ongoing feedback provided in the full range of classroom activities by both teacher and peers for the student’s development. Features such as dispositions, awarenesses, and reflexivity have to be addressed throughout the semester, as they are manifested in diverse classroom activi­ ties. I am therefore exploring ways of giving more weight to my ongoing feedback through the semester in commentaries on drafts, responses to journals, and interac­ tions in conferences and online forums. Portfolios are a good means of assessing dis­ positions. They provide students opportunities to reflect, develop their reflexivity, and demonstrate their learning trajectories. More than being a report on their learning, putting together the portfolio facilitates reflection and development. Renegotiating dominant literacy norms. In the version of my earlier pedagogy as out­ lined in my book, I focused on practices and dispositions to transition students to the dominant norms. I treated the dominant language and genre norms as the governing framework within which students developed their academic literacies competence. This was a cautious strategy. I adopted the pragmatic position that while multilingual international students brought with them repertoires that enriched their communica­ tive and literacy competence, they had to relate them to the norms that mattered in the American academic context. I assumed that multilinguals should approximate SWE

130 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

grammatical norms though they can be creative in terms of style, tone, and discourse structure (see in my previous publications, Canagarajah, 1993, 1997). Later, I held that they can bring their own varieties of English or languages in a qualified way for significant rhetorical purposes with careful flagging of their interests (Canagarajah, 2006). Now, I feel that all language use is creative and voiced, allowing for a larger space for diversity. Though I have always felt that students should negotiate the domi­ nant norms in whichever context they are communicating, I am now of the opinion that there can be more open negotiations whereby the American academy can reex­ amine its literacy and communicative assumptions and move toward more inclusive communicative norms and genres. Just as students negotiate dominant norms, gate­ keepers in the academy should also negotiate changing grammars and conventions. Furthermore, academic writing should not be treated as holding a monolithic norm. There are different genres for different audiences, allowing for different repertoires. The norms are also not static. As I adopt a transnational frame of pedagogy, I treat the academy as situated in the contact zone, open to the construction of new norms and genres according to diverse participants’ interests and contexts. I am open to the possibility that there are more spaces for change and creativity in any communicative context conceived as a contact zone. Shifting from author’s accommodation to multiparty negotiations for meaning. I now consider writing as depending not solely on the author’s writing strategies but also the audience’s co-construction of meaning. In my earlier approach in in my textbook (Canagarajah, 2002b), I had placed the onus for successful uptake of texts on the writ­ ers. Therefore, the teaching focus was on how students can creatively but cautiously achieve their purposes by accommodating reader expectations based on dominant norms. However, my evolving understanding of negotiated literacy (defined in Chap­ ter 4, based on what I have learned from classroom interactions) makes me believe that meaning making is a two-way process. Readers must also take responsibility for con­ structing meaning. My teaching practices now focus on getting all parties to engage more actively in literacy negotiations. This approach to literacy also allows for more grammatical and textual diversity, as willingness to negotiate allows for more success­ ful co-construction of meanings. Reconsidering the agency of writers in communication and writing. My earlier peda­ gogical approaches were based on the understanding that writers had complete agency to appropriate dominant languages, renegotiate established conventions, represent their voices, and perhaps lead to social and structural changes favoring democratic values. I am now influenced by theories of spatiality (Massey, 2005) and material­ ity (Barad, 2007) to see writers (and readers) as emplaced in specific environmental ecologies that both enable and constrain them in their communication (Canagarajah, 2018). My evolving position is a bit more advanced than the notion of negotiated lit­ eracy that did acknowledge constraints from the audience and established conventions and informed my approach around 2010–2013 (see Canagarajah, 2013a). I adopted the term alignment to consider how writers have to find connections between diverse social and semiotic resources for meaning making. However, that notion too gave too much agency to writers to achieve alignment. Terms similar to alignment, but less human­ istic and open to the influences of materiality and space, are emplacement (Pigg, 2014), attunement (Leonard, 2014), and ambience (Rickert, 2013). These terms index the activ­ ity of writers situating themselves in more expansive social and material ecologies

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to work with the factors shaping writing. There is a qualified agency involved here. Writers draw from the resources that are available in the context for their communi­ cative intentions and outcomes. They have to factor in the rhetorical possibilities in relation to material ecologies to figure out their uptake. Despite the possibilities being constrained, writers can be strategic to draw from the available ecological resources to shape their outcomes. Though material environment is agentive, Appadurai (2015) theorizes that people mediate all these conditions and resources for their purposes with strategic positioning to suit their interests. I am currently planning on ways to encourage students to draw from their ecological resources but also understand the constraints in materiality to achieve their rhetorical interests with sensitive emplace­ ment and reciprocal attunement. Expanding translingual pedagogies to relate to diverse student communities. The title of my 2002 book Critical Academic Writing and Multilingual Students suggests that I treated translingual writing as relevant only to multilingual (or “non-native” English speaker) students. Even though I resisted monolingual ideologies and pedago­ gies, I reified the binary by romanticizing the multilingual perspective over the “native English speaker” perspective. I treated multilingual students as coming with special resources and repertoires unavailable to “native English speakers.” But the notion of communication and learning as occurring in transnational social fields frames both native and non-native users of English as situated between languages and literacies, with the possibility of developing translingual competencies. From this perspective, I see translingual negotiations and creativity as available for both groups of writers. As we see from my classes, both groups learn immensely by interacting with each other. While multilingual students engage with the norms and expectations of “native English speakers,” the latter find their own multilingual competencies awakened in the con­ text of the writing by multilingual students, as both of them develop a translingual awareness and dispositions. I am now eager to teach classes that include both groups of students, treating transnational literacies and translingual practices as relevant to everyone. I am comfortable teaching writing courses that go beyond traditional dis­ tinctions such as L1 and L2, mainstream and international, or native and non-native.

Changes in my understanding of writing My teaching experience and engagement with student writers has had implications for my own writing practice. Observing students negotiating their writing challenges and man­ aging to represent their voices in creative ways has emboldened me. This LA (represented in this book) is textually and stylistically different from the ones I have written before. It demonstrates my evolving rhetorical strategies and preferences. Compared to the LA quoted in the beginning of the book and excerpted in the chapters throughout (i.e., my very first LA, which was published in 2001), the LA that constitutes this book is different in many ways. My current rhetorical realizations, which I articulate in this section, are based on lessons I have learned from students on how they have written their LAs: •

A more qualified but expansive orientation to translingual practice. Previously, I treated rhetorical hybridity as answering the dilemmas of multilingual writers. For me, hybridity meant only merging stylistic and discoursal features, without bringing words from different languages into an English essay. I merged the discourses from

132 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

Tamil and English literacy traditions, orality and literacy, narrative and argumenta­ tion, and the personal and analytical in my 2001 LA. I meshed discoursal features from Tamil writing, such as the personal, narrative, and expressive. However, I didn’t use words, clauses, or grammars from Tamil. At that time, I considered that using Tamil in lexical and grammatical constructions was too extreme. I also didn’t have a philosoph­ ical justification for considering that a textual possibility. It is possible that there were idiomatic novelties in my English, deriving from the influence of Tamil, although they were not consciously meshed on my part. (Note Britishisms such as “learnt” rather than “learned” and “would” in the place of “will” and idiomatic deviations such as the over-use of “even” in the excerpts quoted earlier.) My current expecta­ tion for rhetorical hybridity has expanded in many new directions. Now, I consider it acceptable to merge multilingual resources in a text, although still in negotiation with established conventions for those writing contexts. In this LA, I have meshed words and clauses from Tamil and Sri Lankan English. And the text features other languages (as represented by my students). Going beyond verbal resources to mesh diverse semiotic resources. Rhetorical hybrid­ ization can include visual motifs, color, spacing, and other multisensory resources. In this LA, I have allowed the Tamil expressions in places without translation, as I am open to the Tamil scripts functioning as a visual to construct my identity and ethos of the text. I have also treated the variation of fonts as indexing different voices and effects. I didn’t consider these semiotic resources as relevant to writing in my 2001 LA. From more readerly to writerly texts. In the 2001 LA, I treated the writer as having the onus on communicating his/her rhetorical intentions clearly to the reader/audience. My current understanding of negotiated literacy has enabled me to distribute the agency in meaning construction. I realize that readers have to be invited, expected, and even required to engage in meaning construction. What this shift means is that I am now open to composing more writerly texts. Writerly texts are less controlled, sign posted, and explicit about intentions. I give readers more “room to roam” (Stark, 2008, p. 269). Such texts are enthymematic in calling for readers’ response to com­ plete the communication of meanings. If there is an element of indirectness, mystery, opaqueness, and ambiguity in certain sections of this book, I am expecting the col­ laborative activity of readers in constructing meaning. I am calling for an attunement with diverse semiotic and material resources in the text for interpretive work. Writing as performative. I was largely focused on literal/ denotative meanings in pre­ vious writing. I am now prepared to consider meanings that are aesthetic, rhetorical, and metonymic as equally important. The notion of literal meanings is an abstrac­ tion, as it cannot be separated from diverse embodied meanings in a text. My focus in some cases of codemeshing is on the metonymic implications of what the non-English codes index in terms of my identity or ethos, beyond their dictionary meaning. Some more extreme acts of codemeshing are motivated by the expectation that readers will read for more diverse, full bodied, and richer range of meanings beyond the literal and referential. Even those who don’t understand the literal meaning of Tamil will hopefully consider the aesthetics of the script, the identity being performed, or voices being represented. By the same token, I don’t think of writing as communicating pre­ constructed meanings of the writer. I am now open to the ways the literacy activity constructs meaning in situated interactions. I am sometimes surprised at the meanings

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readers construct from my text. Their reading brings into focus meanings and objec­ tives that I might have been less aware of when I composed the text. This realization motivates me also to be open to the diversity of meanings that might get entextualized in different social networks and material ecologies. Rethinking the text/context separation. I am now more open to the resources of space, time, and materiality contributing to and constraining meanings in entextualization. There is greater interaction between material contexts and semiotic resources than traditionally acknowledged in literacy. As the term entextualization suggests, material resources go into the construction of textual meanings. This too makes me more crea­ tive, as I consider verbal resources as not working in isolations from the setting and ecology. I am able to take more linguistic risks. By the same token, this realization also makes me humble as to my control over the text to convey the meanings I have in mind. I realize that I am constrained by historical and geographical conditions to say things that are possible and for the text to be intelligible, while also allowing the literacy event to generate rich new meanings.

Transferability A pedagogical question that remains of this LA genre is the extent to which it is relevant for the other writing activities students perform in educational and professional contexts. To begin with, to what extent is the LA relevant for their writing expected in English classes? Then, to what extent is a course focused on LAs useful for the literacy skills students need in their disciplinary courses? As a further consideration, does a pedagogy focusing on LA help students write for their professions? Some might argue that LA is too peripheral and marginal a genre in academic and professional communication to invest one’s time and energy. As I conclude this book that makes a case for LA, I cannot ignore this question. We must begin by acknowledging that no genre is completely transferable across con­ texts. Each writing situation has its own literacy ecology that would make the realiza­ tion of that text different. There is no escape from negotiating the participants, resources, and interests afresh on every occasion. Many leading genre theorists today would advise against treating genres as static and preconstructed containers with distinct rules, norms, and conventions (see Miller, 1984; Swales, 2004). They understand all genres as containing hybrid and fluid features that need to be negotiated for their realization contextually and situationally. They define genres as temporarily stabilized but always evolving, providing templates but variable in their situated realization, artifactual but generated through social action, shared but fluid and variable (Miller, 1984). For example, though composition courses often teach the “research article” as valuable for academic discourse in general, and for the advanced writing required in specific disciplinary courses, the genre will be real­ ized differently in the disciplines students write for. It is unwise to think that students will practice that genre exactly as written in English classes in their subject areas. More impor­ tantly, every genre of writing will be slightly different in diverse ecologies – i.e., accord­ ing to the different participants, objectives, and features of the context. The same genre “research article” will be structured differently within the same discipline of composition, when we publish it in journals such as College English, Written Communication, and Research in the Teaching of English. Therefore, genres have to be always negotiated in relation to these ecological conditions and contextual variations.

134 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

Along those lines, generalizations that academic writing has no place for the personal or narrative, and that it is a purely analytical and impersonal genre, are misguided. All genres have to negotiate a continuum of personal and academic, narrative and argumenta­ tion, creativity and normativity, voice and structure as relevant in the relevant commu­ nicative ecologies. In fact, diverse semiotic resources are entextualized into all genres as appropriate in a suitable mix. Ironically, narrative is becoming the master trope in all areas of knowledge construction. Knowledge is the construction of a story to explain relevant aspects of life. Postmodern discourses adopt terms like “grand narrative” (Lyotard, 1979) or resistant “minor narratives” (Deleuze & Guatari, 1986) to discuss knowledge construction. There is now a questioning of the traditional stereotypical understanding that analytical or impersonal genres are more logical, precise, clear, and functional, unlike narratives. We are learning the limitations of scientific impersonality, detachment, and objectivity. Myers (1990) uses the narrative metaphor insightfully when he distinguishes the stories lay peo­ ple tell of the universe (which he calls “narrative of nature”), which are transmuted into another story that fits disciplinary conventions and constructs (i.e., “narrative of science”). LAs can help students to construct suitable disciplinary narratives or embed the narrative appropriately in diverse other genres as relevant for their needs. There is also a new appreciation of the personal in academic work. Geisler’s (1994) ground breaking work has shown that the way the personal is negotiated contributes to the successful writing and scholarship of experts. Considering the personal as irrelevant, or failing to draw from the personal, marks the attitudes of unsuccessful or novice writ­ ers/scholars. Those who find personal resonances in their scholarly enterprises construct knowledge in more critical and creative ways. In Geisler’s orientation, the personal and the academic are a continuum, even a hybrid, that requires situated negotiation. As in the case of the narrative, the personal is also becoming central in many academic and popular domains of communication. Genres such as autoethnography in the social sciences speak to the new appreciation of the personal in knowledge construction and dissemination. What can be transferred from LA to other writing contexts are the three pedagogical objectives I highlighted earlier: language awareness, rhetorical sensibility, and negotiation strategies. All writing would benefit from these underlying dispositions. The statement of outcomes of the Writing Assessment Programs has articulated similar dispositions as “Hab­ its of Mind” (CWPA, 1974). They are: Curiosity – the desire to know more about the world. Openness – the willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world. Engagement – a sense of investment and involvement in learning. Creativity – the ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and rep­ resenting ideas. Persistence – the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects. Responsibility – the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the con­ sequences of those actions for oneself and others. Flexibility – the ability to adapt to situations, expectations, or demands. Metacognition – the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking as well as on the individual and cultural processes used to structure knowledge.

கற் றது னக மண்ணளவு கல் லாதது உலகளவு


It is significant that the outcomes are not framed in terms of knowledge, skills, or written products. There is a growing appreciation that dispositions help generate the text for rel­ evant contexts and activities in relation to the objectives and purposes of authors and read­ ers. Whereas propositional knowledge focuses on norms, rules, and conventions of language or writing that cannot be relied on or guaranteed in all contexts, dispositions develop the procedural knowledge of negotiating norms, rules, and conventions situationally for one’s interests and purposes. In teaching LA, therefore, we shouldn’t focus on sending students out with only a knowledge of certain genre conventions, language norms, or textual struc­ tures. We are cultivating the dispositions that will help authors shape other texts in other contexts. Being a liminal genre, LA might help students cultivate these dispositions with greater salience as it needs to be negotiated from the ground up. Unlike the better-known genres of academia, which come with well-sedimented and habituated rules and conven­ tions, often featured in composition textbooks and rhetoric handbooks, LA forces students to personally negotiate the shape of this genre with sensitivity to contexts, audiences, and objectives. However, I grant that any genre can be taught in a writing course with a focus on the dispositions above for the sake of transferability. LA simply happens to be an atypi­ cal genre that might compel teachers and students to inquire into conventions and norms because of its liminal nature. There is a need to learn this genre in practice, developing the suitable dispositions in the process of writing. These dispositions are part of the rhetori­ cal sensibility and literacy strategies one should practice in other writing contexts, even though they might involve genres that are better known and described (such as research articles in economics or physics). There are other reasons why the cultivation of transferable dispositions is becoming important for communication in diverse educational and social contexts. Dispositions are what will facilitate communication in textual, digital, or conversational interactions in transnational social spaces. Scholars in sociolinguistics urge us to consider unpredictability as the norm in contemporary communication (Blommaert, 2010). In contexts of trans­ lingualism, where diverse communities engage with each other beyond the previously niched and compartmentalized forms of multilingualism (where there were still somewhat homogeneous communities in their own enclaves), we are always compelled to interact with people with diverse language and literacy norms. We are unable to assume shared conventions in most contexts. Teaching students that a specific set of norms will guarantee their communicative success is to mislead them. They need the dexterity to negotiate mul­ tiple norms, constituting ever expanding writing repertoires. It is difficult in practice to teach students the diverse and unpredictable norms one might need for communication in transnational social space. All literacy interactions and texts are liminal. Therefore, a more pragmatic, efficient, and relevant strategy is to develop the dispositions they would draw from to negotiate semiotic resources in attunement with the communicative ecologies in transnational spaces. However, we have to be careful not to exaggerate the value of the personal narrative genre. We have to be cautious in claiming critical and creative functions for them in social contexts. The institutional relationships and power structures in diverse contexts pose their own challenges for voice and expression. Classroom negotiations of the narrative are only one context. The dispositions articulated above have to be cultivated in relation to expanding scales of interaction, communication, and meaning. Writing and classroom communication should not be disconnected from these wider scales of influence. We have

136 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

to encourage students to understand the implications of their textual and language choices in relation to broader social, historical, and geopolitical struggles for meaning. Such a criticality is especially important when we consider that the current political dispensation of neoliberalism also thrives on such cultivation of dispositions (Kubota, 2014; Flores, 2013; Canagarajah, 2016b). Neoliberal agencies hold that it is flexible dispositions that might help workers and professionals to engage in adaptation and lifelong learning in a context where production and marketing relationships cross national borders. Fur­ thermore, there are new needs for self-presentation as soft genres are valued for marketiz­ ing oneself. Such requirements give importance to narratives and the personal (Gershon, 2011). These genres and dispositions of marketization are often touted as the human capital that is congenial to the “flexibilization” of current economic and social relations (Hel­ ler & Duchene, 2012). In this sense, these dispositions are part of the biopolitics enforced in the new economic order. Neoliberal subjects are treated as responsible for developing these dispositions through their own effort. Those who fail in education or society are considered unsuccessful in developing these dispositions. There is a scramble to develop such dispositions in schools and private tutories (Park & Wee, 2012). Therefore, the com­ municative dispositions promoted in this pedagogy are not novel. They might in fact fall into the expectations and objectives of neoliberalism to further its profit-making interests, marginalizing some of the societies these students come from. For the above reasons, these dispositions should be treated with a critical orientation to power relationships and situated in networks and genres of expanding social institutions. Teachers and students should explore how these genres and dispositions relate to wider social and political structures. In this vein, Dingo (2013) theorizes a pedagogy of networking. This pedagogy calls for making students aware of the interlocking scales of institutional and social relevance for classroom and literacy activity. Though I have largely focused on the microlevel of codemeshing in texts, I hope I have unveiled the geopolitical implica­ tions of these choices in the transnational social fields in which they are situated. As we discussed, social networks and material ecologies of diverse expansive spatiotemporal loca­ tions scale into entextualization. The local and global are immanent in literacy, not bifur­ cated. There is also a performative side to texts: They don’t merely reflect social conditions but facilitate social change. The criticality that multilingual students realize in their writ­ ing has be to problematized in relation to the histories of discrimination or inequality their communities have suffered and the new futures they might construct through the voices, identities, and relationships. Their dispositions and genres have to be interrogated for their ability to facilitate more inclusive, ethical, and just geopolitical structures.

Toward a politics of hope Though I provide many cautions on the limits of the pedagogy and genre, and also acknowledge the dangers in teaching that might stifle student development (as in the nar­ rative about Kyoko), I want to end this book on a hopeful note. While hope and despair, success and failure, transformation and domination are an ongoing dialectic, characterizing all social and pedagogical interactions, we have a choice as to what stories we want to tell our communities, colleagues, and students. Critical educationists use the term “politics of hope” as against a “politics of despair” (Giroux, 1997, p. 71) to distinguish their scholarly narratives. In this theorization, hope and despair are not mere affect but a politics. The phrase implies that the attitudes and feelings we adopt in our stories have ideological

கற் றது கக மண்ணளவு கல் லாதது உலகளவு


implications. Though we might want to alert our audience to the limits of critical practice and agency, we have to take care not to let our cautionary tales suppress or sideline resistance. If students and teachers are made to feel that all activity can be compromised by the powerful or appropriated for ulterior interests, such narratives of despair can disillusion them as to the possibilities for action.We can leave people with stories of possibility, despite the ever-present threats from powerful groups and institutions to compromise or appropriate resistance. Politics is not a zero-sum game. If the designs of those who are powerful can appropriate the voices of the powerless, the latter also have the possibility of renegotiating power structures and reconfiguring social relationships. In that spirit, I end this book with the narrative about Bendi Tso (her LA appears in full in the second section of this book). As I was writing this book, I received an e-mail from her, reminding me about a recommendation letter she asked me to write in support of her application to certain doctoral programs. My mind went back to the first time I met Bendi in the beginning of the academic year in 2013. I spoke to her in our traditional semester-opening party in the front lawn of a faculty member’s house. With my usual glass of red wine in hand, I ran into a bevy of Chinese graduate students. I asked them which part of China they came from, as I had recently returned from a trip to Guangzhou. As they went around introducing themselves, Bendi mentioned that she was from Tibet. Others would have passed on, but I paused. As the concerns of Tibetans resonated with my experiences as a Tamil from Sri Lanka, I had many additional ques­ tions for Bendi. Intriguingly, Bendi fell silent. The other Chinese students quickly filled the void, chiming in: What “problem” was I referring to? Tibet had always been part of China. All Tibetans were happy, except for a few “trouble makers.” I realized that I had opened a controversial topic and quickly moved to another group of students from a less complicated country. A bit later during the party, Bendi found me alone. She told me that I should keep to myself her mention of her Tibetan background. Her affiliations were complicated. Though she was from the Tibetan side of the border, she had gone to school all her life in China. I responded that she could always talk about her Tibetan identity with me freely, as I was well informed about her people’s aspirations. I also told her that our university provided a relatively safe space for her to explore and represent her Tibetan heritage. A few days later, Bendi dropped by during my office hours. She said that it was a coin­ cidence that the department had listed me as her academic advisor. Bendi also decided to take my course the following semester on the Teaching of Second Language Writing, where students write their LAs as part of their professional and writing development. Though Bendi started the early drafts of her LA without exploring her overlapping iden­ tities, she gradually began to problematize them in later drafts. Her revisions engaged more explicitly with her Tibetan heritage and its influence on her literacy, learning, and identity. She narrated how she had recently realized her declining proficiency in Tibetan and gradual alienation from the Tibetan classics that her grandmother had read to her when she was young. She made attempts to get some of them in English translation in our university library. However, she was disappointed in not being able to read them in the original. Therefore, she began to make efforts to improve her proficiency in Tibetan. In the end, Bendi’s LA meshed Tibetan, Mandarin, and English in representing her transna­ tional identity.

138 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

What was significant was that Bendi’s LA turned out to be profoundly performative. It went beyond representing an identity to constructing one. To begin with, the process of writing the LA motivated Bendi to learn Tibetan. As she realized her alienation from the language and its texts, she began to make attempts to learn her heritage language and literatures. Secondly, the essay led to her research topic for her Master’s thesis on the main­ tenance of Tibetan, motivated by her exploration of heritage language loss in her LA, a few semesters later. Bendi borrowed a research instrument I had adopted to study the role of Tamil in diaspora settings. She obtained IRB approval for data collection in two Tibetan villages bordering China and explored the choice of language among the participants. She wrote an impressive thesis on the reasons for the decline of Tibetan among community members in the context of political relations in the region. It is titled, Language Choice and Language Shift in Tibetan Families in Luozu Village (Tso, 2014). Third, the LA and the writ­ ing of her thesis motivated her to change her discipline to anthropology for her doctoral studies. In her statements of purpose, which she asked me to help revise, Bendi expressed an interest in studying the changes in Tibetan language and culture. It was for this applica­ tion that she now wanted me to write recommendation letters. In retrospect, it is interesting to consider how the LA written in my course helped Bendi in this academic trajectory. The LA helped a student who felt alienated from her heritage to return to it. It helped her rediscover the value of Tibetan culture and literacy by recollect­ ing her childhood influences and experiences. It made her reflexive about the competing influences and identities in her background and seek satisfactory forms of resolution. Even­ tually, the LA seems to have emboldened her to take up the study of Tibetan language and culture as an area for systematic inquiry in her Master’s and PhD degrees. Paradoxically, it also developed her proficiency in English, true to a translingual pedagogy. Here is her e-mail to me, dated 22nd January 2016, which I received when I was writ­ ing the first draft of this book. She wrote this from her hometown, as she had completed her degree and left our university [square brackets indicate my explanations for context or editing for clarity]: Dear Professor Canagarajah, I have finished this year’s application [for PhD programs]. No matter what the result [is], I really want to express my sincere thankfulness and gratitude. Thank you for all the time you have spent on writing RLs [i.e., Reference Letters] and submitting the letter. Most importantly, thank you for making me love language and issues related to language. The English writing class you have given to me is always in my mind. It gives me the courage to start writing things in English even though I am not a native speaker. The writing autobiography assignment still helps me to reflect all my experi­ ence, not only writing but also how every experience shapes me and my idea. Your article and books about language practice are still providing insights into my today’s research. You have made a great difference for me. I attached a song for you. Hope you will like it. Wish you all the best.

Sincerely yours,


கற் றது னக மண்ணளவு கல் லாதது உலகளவு


I conclude this book with my response to Bendi: Dear Bendi, I have just received another request from U of [xx], and I will send it out shortly. Thanks for your kind words. It is every teacher’s dream to receive such gratitude. It is inspiring to read that the writing you did in my course has influenced you to write more in English and reflect on other educational issues. What can be more pleasing to teachers than to learn that the time and effort they invest on students are richly rewarded? On a gloomy day on the aftermath of a massive snow storm in our town, it gives me hope that the efforts we make in teaching and research can have life implications. Your message provides me clarity on two important issues I always struggle with in my teaching: 1. I am sometimes afraid that accommodating diverse languages in classes might hinder the use and competence of English. Since you were in a course on English writing, I might have been expected to focus only on English and not allow other languages into the classroom. However, in your case, my approach has had the effect of motivating you to use and learn English more, in addition to re-learning Tibetan. It is sometimes difficult to explain such paradoxical and mysterious outcomes. I can only point to testimonies of students like you to argue that the inclusion of multiple languages can enhance English writing and proficiency. 2. I also doubt sometimes that the activities in classrooms have the power to trans­ form social relations and life conditions outside. I wonder if I am being idealistic in thinking that teaching can change the world. However, your literacy autobiog­ raphy seems to have transcended its role as a mere classroom activity and changed your life trajectory! It has set you off on a scholarly and social path that can mean a lot to reviving Tibetan language and culture, and empowering your commu­ nity. This too is a mystery. Testimonies of students like you are the only evidence I can point to for persuading me that writing and learning in classrooms can have implications for social change. After you finish your doctoral studies and become an educator, I am certain that you will pass on these values, practices, and dispositions to your students – the same way that my teachers in Sri Lanka, who made me value creativity and criticality in learning and communicating, passed on those values to me. We function like a human chain, passing on good gifts to others. There is hope for all of us if such influences become contagious. Your letter reminds me that teachers are not just in the business of providing knowl­ edge or skills; we are in the business of shaping lives. I am relieved that the influences on you are positive. But don’t stick to any of my lessons stubbornly. I have myself changed a lot since I taught your class. You will too. As you engage with new groups of students, new social conditions, and new thinking, your views on writing and teach­ ing will change. If you write to me in a couple of years and say that you have moved beyond my teaching philosophy to adopt a different theoretical and pedagogical prac­ tice, or even critique my positions, my regard for you will remain undiminished. Sincerely, Prof. C

140 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

References Appadurai,A. (2015). Mediants, materiality, normativity. Public Culture, 27(2), 221–237.

Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning.

Durham: Duke University Press. Blommaert, J. (2010). The sociolinguistics of globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Canagarajah, A. S. (1993). Critical ethnography of a Sri Lankan classroom: Ambiguities in student opposition to reproduction through ESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 27(4), 601–626. Canagarajah, A. S. (1997). Challenges in English literacy for African-American and Lankan Tamil learners: Towards a pedagogical paradigm for bidialectal and bilingual minority students. Language and Education, 11(1), 15–37. Canagarajah,A. S. (2002a). A geopolitics of academic writing. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Canagarajah, A. S. (2002b). Critical academic writing and multilingual students. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Canagarajah,A. S. (2006).The place of World Englishes in composition: Pluralization continued. College Composition and Communication, 57, 586–619. Canagarajah, A. S. (2013a). Translingual practice: Global Englishes and cosmopolitan relations. Abingdon: Routledge. Canagarajah, A. S. (2013b). Negotiating translingual literacy: An enactment. Research in the Teaching of English, 48(1), 40–67. Canagarajah, A. S. (2015). “Blessed in my own way”: Pedagogical affordances for dialogical voice construction in multilingual student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 27, 122–139. Canagarajah,A. S. (2016a). Crossing borders, addressing diversity. Language Teaching, 49(3), 438–454. Canagarajah,A. S. (2016b). Translingual practices and neoliberal policies:Attitudes and strategies of African skilled migrants in Anglophone workplaces. Berlin: Springer. Canagarajah,A. S. (2018). Materializing ‘Competence:’ perspectives from International STEM Scholars. Modern Language Journal, 102(2), 1–24. Canagarajah, A. S., & Lee, E. (2014). Negotiating alternative discourses in academic writing: Risks with hybridity. In L.Thesen & L. Cooper (Eds.), Risk in academic writing: Postgraduate students, their teachers and the making of knowledge (pp. 59–99). Bristol: Multilingual Matters. CWPA [Council of Writing Program Administrators]. (1974). WPA outcomes statement for first year composition. Retrieved August 15, 2018 from Dingo, R. (2013). Networking the macro and micro: Toward transnational literacy practices. Journal of Advanced Composition, 33(3–4), 529–552. Faigley, L. (1989). Judging writing, judging selves. College Composition and Communication, 40(4), 395–412. Flores, N. (2013).The unexamined relationship between neoliberalism and plurilingualism:A cautionary tale. TESOL Quarterly, 47(3), 500–520. Geisler, C. (1994). Academic literacy and the nature of expertise. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Gershon, I. (2011). Neoliberal agency. Current Anthropology, 52(4), 537–555. Giroux, H. (1997). Pedagogy and the politics of hope:Theory, culture, and schooling, a critical reader. Boulder: Westview Press. Heller, M., & Duchene,A. (2012). Pride and profit: Changing discourses of language, capital, and nationstate. In A. Duchene & M. Heller (Eds.), Language in late capitalism (pp. 1–22). New York: Routledge. Johnson, K., & Golombek, P. (2011).The transformative power of narrative in second language teacher education. TESOL Quarterly, 45(3), 486–509. Kubota, R. (2014).The multi/plural turn, postcolonial theory, and neoliberal multiculturalism. Applied Linguistics, 37, 474–494. Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2004). A handbook for teacher research. Berkshire: McGraw Hill. Leonard, R. L. (2014). Multilingual writing as rhetorical attunement. College English, 76(3), 227–247. Lyotard, J-F. (1979). The postmodern condition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Massey, D. (2005). For space. London: Sage. Miller, C. R. (1984). Genre as social action. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 70, 151–170.

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Myers, G. (1990). Writing biology. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Park, J., & Wee, L. (2012). Markets of English. Abingdon: Routledge.

Pigg, S. (2014). Emplacing mobile composing habits: A study of academic writing in networked social

spaces. College English, 66(2), 250–275. Rickert, T. (2013). Ambient rhetoric. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Spack, R. (1997).The acquisition of academic literacy in a second language: A longitudinal case study. Written Communication, 14(1), 3–62. Stark, R. (2008). Some aspects of Christian mystical rhetoric, philosophy, and poetry. Philosophy and Rhetoric, 41(3), 260–277. Swales, J. (2004). Research genres. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tso, B. (2014). Language choice and language shift in Tibetan families in Luozu village (MA thesis), submitted to Penn State University, PA.

APPENDIX 1 Syllabus First year ESL composition: writing at the contact zone This course will orientate you to the basic processes and practices of academic writing in English. Though you may not be able to write perfectly structured essays in language free of errors at the end of this course, you will have developed a good understanding of the writing process, language awareness, and rhetorical sensitivity that you will need to keep developing your proficiency as you continue your education in the university. Spending the whole semester on mastering one type of essay and language is unwise, as you will find that genres and registers change in different academic fields and contexts of writing. The processes this course develops will help you deal with any type of writing product you encounter and expand your writing repertoire for different contexts. The course therefore focuses on the following three aspects: •

• •

Writing process: a familiarity with the stages of generating ideas, outlining the draft, collaborating with peers and the instructor on drafting and revising your text, and treating writing as an ongoing collaborative project. Language awareness: an understanding of appropriate language for different contexts, the ways language norms are changing, strategies to represent diverse identities in language. Rhetorical sensitivity: an orientation to effective writing style and structure for differ­ ent contexts, in relation to the diverse expectations of one’s audience.

The philosophy motivating this course is that writing occurs in the contact zone. The idea is that we write and communicate in a context where many languages, cultures, and knowledge traditions meet. Rather than imposing one way of using language or writing, the course aims to teach you how to engage with the diverse norms of the contact zone to construct effective texts. This metaphor of contact zones applies to ESL college writing in many ways. As ESL students, you are bringing language and rhetorical skills that will meet the norms of an American university. Rather than treating one norm (either yours or the university’s) as the sole option, you will negotiate both for creative alternatives. The

142 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

college is itself a contact zone of diverse academic fields and intellectual traditions, with related styles of communication. In addition to this diversity, there are also changes under­ way in writing, English language, literacy, and communication in the context of globaliza­ tion and technology. The writing processes, language awareness, and rhetorical sensitivity that this course focuses on prepare you for such diversity in college English writing.

Required texts Ahmad, D. (Ed.). (2007). Rotten English: A literary anthology. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Chang, H. (2008). Autoethnography as method. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast.

Supplementary material Additional essays will be posted online (in Angel) in the folder titled “Supplementary Mate­ rial” as relevant to the themes and tasks that emerge in the course. The following materials are already posted in that folder: Canagarajah, A. S. (2001). The fortunate traveler: Shuttling between communities and literacies by economy class. In D. Belcher & U. Connor (Eds.), Reflections on multiliterate lives (pp. 23–37). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Questionnaire for literacy autobiography: Belcher, D., & Connor, U. (Eds.). (2001). Reflec­ tions on multiliterate lives (pp. 209–211). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Course requirements The main writing requirement is a literacy autobiography. This requires writing about the development of your literacy skills in the languages of your proficiency. This is a very fluid genre, taking different shape according to your interests and abilities. At its simplest, this is a personal narrative on your language and literacy development. At a more advanced level, it takes the form of an autoethnography, a genre valued by researchers and scholars. To satisfy the requirements of this genre, you are encouraged to do disciplined research to collect data relat­ ing to your development and document literacy artifacts. You will also read research articles that relate to your themes and may help you further analyze and interpret your personal expe­ riences. These components will make this genre of writing very hybrid. It can merge narrative and argumentation, the personal and the academic. In other words, this genre ranges from a simple first-person narrative at one level to a well-researched autoethnography at the other end, allowing you to approximate whichever level based on your motivations and interests. We will do several short writing assignments that will help you develop your literacy autobiography and then turn it into an autoethnography. We will also read and analyze several model narratives, including mine (see Canagarajah in the supplementary reading), to give examples of this genre. We will read an accessible book, Autoethnography as Method, to learn more about the academic version of this writing. The chapters in this book will walk you through the research and analysis that will strengthen your narrative. The second required text for the course is Rotten English. The readings from this book will help your writing project and language awareness in many ways. The book features differ­ ent genres of writing: essays, autobiographies, poems, and fiction. These texts are written by multilingual and second language writers like you. They present diverse views on the role of English in multilingual communities in different points of their history; models of writing by

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multilinguals who use English creatively to represent their identities; narratives on the role of English in the lives of multilinguals from different lands; and debates on different attitudes and orientations to English in multilingual communities. The selections scheduled for each class meeting have to be read before you come to the class. The course is computer-assisted. You will find on Angel a folder with your name, where you will post your assigned work. Your peers and I will have access to your folder. We will com­ ment on your drafts periodically. The web-based instructional system will allow us to conduct online discussions; share our journals; post our drafts, data, and activities; and communicate with each other on writing collaboration, classroom management, and other course issues. Scheduled writing assignments have to be posted into your folder before the class meet­ ing. You will find my comments in your folder before the following class meeting. In addi­ tion to writing your own drafts, you will periodically review the drafts of your peers and post your comments into their folder. An important requirement is maintaining a weekly journal. You may comment on your reflections on the writing projects, reading assignments, or research activity. Post your journal entry into your folder. Note that your peers and I will read and comment on your entries periodically. Grading: Drafts: 35% Journal: 10% Research activity: 10% Peer review: 10% Final Submission of Literacy Autobiography: 35% The drafts, journal, research activity, and peer review will be graded as Good, Satisfac­ tory, and Unsatisfactory. You will receive feedback that will indicate how you are faring. The final submission will have a letter grade. The grade will be based on thematic focus, appropriate organization, effectiveness of style, and care in editing.

Schedule Week 1: Introductions Reading: Canagarajah, “Fortunate Traveler” essay Writing: Answer questionnaire from Belcher and Connor on your literacy development Activity: Share questionnaire with peer and interview him/her on additional matters of interest Week 2: Reading: Macaulay excerpt (Ahmad, p. 469); Chang, Ch.1 Writing: Draft 1: My feelings about English writing; outline and paragraph Activity: Exchange paragraph with peer and suggest improvements Week 3: Reading: Achebe essay (Ahmad, p. 425); Chang. Ch. 2 Writing: Draft 2: Revision of Paragraph Activity: Edit revised version of peer Week 4: Reading: Tan essay (Ahmad, p. 502); Chang, Ch. 3 Writing: Draft 3: Attitudes to English and home language: A comparison essay Activity: Small group discussion of drafts

144 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

Week 5: Reading: Grace (Ahmad, p. 165); Chang, Ch. 4. Writing: Draft 4: Revision of “Attitude to English and home language” Activity: Peer critique and editing of draft 4 Week 6: Reading: Bennett (Ahmad, p. 37); Kasaipwalova (Ahmad, p. 202); Chang, Ch. 5 Writing: Draft 5: Most striking memory of earliest writing in English Activity: Collecting Personal Memory Data; send summary of your findings to folder Week 7: Reading: Brathwaite essay (Ahmad, p. 458); Brathwaite poem (Ahmad, p. 42). Writing: Draft 6: Revision of “Most striking memory” Activity: Peer critique of draft 5; identify and start reading at least three pub­ lished articles that relate to your literacy experiences Week 8: Reading: Lovelace (Ahmad, p. 214); Chang, Ch. 6 Writing: Draft 7: Explaining my attitudes: A cause/effect essay Activity: Collecting Self Reflective Data; send summary of findings to folder Week 9: Reading: McKay (Ahmad, p. 82); Keens-Douglas (Ahmad, p. 68); Chang, Ch. 7 Writing: Draft 8: Revising “Explaining”; send annotations of articles to folder Activity: Collecting external data; send summary of findings to folder Week 10: Reading: Johnson (Ahmad, p. 64); Mutabaruka (Ahmad, p. 85); Chang, Ch. 8 Writing: Outlining literacy autoethnography Activity: Review of peer’s outline; read summary of peer’s research results and help find a thesis for his/her literacy narrative Week 11: Reading: Malkani (Ahmad, p. 348); Mistry (Ahmad, p. 232); Chang. Ch. 9 Writing: Draft 9: First draft of literacy autoethnography Activity: Managing data; read draft of peer and provide comments for improvement Week 12: Reading: Okara essay (Ahmad, p. 475); Chang, Ch. 10 Writing: Draft 9: continuation Activity: Analyzing and interpreting data; peer critique of partner’s draft Week 13: Reading: Anzaldua essay (Ahmad, p. 437); Writing: Draft 10: Revision of literacy autoethnography Activity: Review peer’s draft Week 14: Reading: Iweala (Ahmad, p. 330); Saro-Wiwa (Ahmad, p. 390) Writing: Second revision of literacy autoethnography Activity: Editing your peer’s draft Week 15: Reading: Chosen student essays for general class discussion Writing: Final edits and submission of final draft of literacy autoethnography

APPENDIX 2 APLNG 412: teaching second language writing This course overviews various perspectives on theory, research, and pedagogical appli­ cations in second language writing. Through reading, writing, class discussions, and development of instructional practice, we will explore how research and theory, and how personal and professional factors interact, to inform your theory and practice of L2 writ­ ing. We will examine the unique nature of L2 writers, how L1 literacy practices inform L2 literacy practices, teacher response, peer review, the use of computers, and developing

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writer’s language awareness. We will work to articulate our developing theories, a practice that aligns with our theories, and a recognition of institutional and ideological issues that influence that theory and practice.

Textbooks Casanave, C. P. (2003). Controversies in second language writing: Dilemmas and decisions in research and instruction. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Ferris, D. F., & Hedgcock, J. S. (2005). Teaching ESL composition: Purpose, process, and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Canagarajah, S. (2002). Critical academic writing and multilingual students. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. (abbreviated below as CAW).

Requirements The course adopts an apprenticeship model to achieve the twin objectives of developing knowledge about writing and developing expertise in teaching. In addition to the readings and discussion that will introduce writing and teaching theoretically, we will engage in two activi­ ties that will achieve these ends through practice. They are: 1. Writing a literacy autobiography for a possible publication (See Appendix 2: Part A on p. 148 for a detailed description of what is involved.) and 2. Conducting observations on the teaching of writing in a composition course or writing center for an end-of-term research article. (See Appendix 2: Part B on p. 151 for a detailed description of what is involved.) These two products (i.e., the literacy autobiography and research report) are the main requirements for this course and those on which your grades will be based. We will work on these products consistently through the whole semester. The readings, discussions, and presentations will revolve around the writing of these two products. In addition to a reading from the textbooks for each class meeting, we will also have two presentations by two students.

Presenter 1: Reading Response and Research You will respond to the assigned reading for 25 minutes by considering the following questions: 1. Describe the main/significant debates and controversies discussed in the read­ ing. 2. Argue your own position on the debate or present your approach to resolving the controversy. 3. A brief update on where your research stands. 4. How does this reading relate to the composition class or tutorial group you are observing? What new questions or perspectives does this reading introduce for your research?

Presenter 2: Revising the literacy autobiography Give a brief (5 minutes) presentation on the main themes you are developing on your autobiography. Discuss how the reading introduces new questions or perspectives for your autobiography (10 minutes). Respond to questions and suggestions your peers may have to revise your autobiography (5 minutes). Participation: In addition to reading the prescribed reading for the class, everyone will be required to do the following:

146 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

1. Read the latest version of Presenter 2’s autobiography, and post your responses to the following questions by midnight each Tuesday: a) What seems to be the main finding about literacy trajectories in this narrative? b) Are there any interesting points related to the theme that you would like to see further developed? c) How can the tone and style be strengthened to suit an academic journal? d) How can the author resolve the tension between narrative and scholarship more effectively? e) Do you have any suggestions for making the organization of the writing more effective? f ) Can you suggest any articles or narratives that the author can read in order to develop the significance of his/her narrative? Post this on Angel in the Presenter’s folder with the f ilename [Feeback]_[your name]_ [author’name]_[draftnumber] and bring a copy of your feedback to class for discussion. 2. Write a journal each week and post it on Angel in the folder named for you. You can comment on the following: Reflections on your research or autobiography; how the read­ ing introduces new questions or perspectives for your autobiography; the new questions or perspectives this reading introduces for your research, etc. Use the following filename for your journals: [ Journal]_[your name]_[number] 3. Periodically revise your literacy autobiography, especially after you receive feedback

from your peers. Post them in the folder with your name on Angel, using the following

filename: [Autobio]_[your name]_[Draft number].

Everyone will be expected to have a first draft of their narrative by the third week of classes.

4. Portfolio: The combined postings in your folder will constitute your Portfolio. It will have a compilation of all the work you have done for the semester. The final posting will be a personal statement titled “Reflection” where you will respond to the follow­ ing questions: if/how your attitudes toward English/writing/teaching changed through the course; if/how your awareness of writing/teaching evolved during the course; and if/ how your understanding of professional identity has matured. You can include other personal reflections on the connections of the readings to your educational and career objectives.

Grade Literacy autobiography: Research Report: Portfolio/presentations/participation:




Detailed grading criteria for Literacy Autobiography and Research Report:

Literacy autobiography 1 2

Narrowing down your subject, developing a trajectory, with a sound thesis statement: 30% Showing the significance of your biography to the field: 20%

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3 4 5 6 7


Details and specificity of narrative: 10% Creativity, engaging tone and style: 10% Engaging with scholarly publications: 10% Organization and editing: 10% Using APA or MLA conventions for citations, documentation, subheadings, etc. (let me know if you are using a different style convention; that is okay): 10%

Research report 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Narrowing down your subject, developing an effective argument, with a sound thesis statement: 30% Showing the significance of your research to the field and describing pedagogical implications: 20% Method (discipline and rigor with which you obtained the data): 10% Range and diversity of data (but you won’t be penalized if you haven’t transcribed or utilized all the interview data): 10% Engaging with scholarly publications: 10% Organization, coherence, and editing: 10% Using APA or MLA conventions for citations, documentation, subheadings etc. (let me know if you are using a different style convention; that is okay): 10%

Schedule Week 1: introduction to the course, research project, and literacy autobiography Reading: Canagarajah literacy autobiography (available in folder titled “Resources”) Task: Prepare two questions to interview the instructor on his literacy develop­ ment and/or teaching development Reading: CAW: Chapter 2 Week 2: Beliefs and Practices TESLC: Chapter 1 CSL: Chapter 1 Week 3: Contrastive Rhetoric Reading: CSL Chapter 2 Week 4: Writing Development Reading: CSL Chapter 3 Week 5: Technology in Writing Reading: [CSL Chapter 5;] CAW Chapter 7; TESLC Chapter 9 Week 6: Politics and Ideology Reading: CSL Chapter 6; CAW Chapter 1 Week 7: Form in Writing Reading: CAW Chapter 3 Week 8: Identity in Writing Reading: CAW Chapter 4

148 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

Week 9: Content in Writing Reading: CAW Chapter 5 Week 10: Audience Consideration Reading: CAW Chapter 6 Week 11: Teacher Feedback Reading: TESLC Chapter 5 Week 12: Peer Response Reading: TESLC Chapter 6 Week 13: Writing Assessment Reading: CSL Chapter 4 TESLC Chapter 8 Week 14: Reading: TESLC Chapter 3, 4 Week 15: Course review and course-end reflections

APPENDIX 2 PART A Project 1: literacy autobiography PURPOSE: There are three objectives for this project: 1



By narrating our own writing development, we can develop greater self-awareness about our literacy background and understand the ramifications of the articles we read about writing with greater personal relevance. By presenting these narratives in academic journals, conferences, or collected editions, we inform the academic world about diverse writing strategies and backgrounds, in addition to earning academic credit for a publication. By analyzing our narratives collectively, we develop a research knowledge on diverse writing trajectories and complicate published research on writing development.

Here are the activities and stages involved in this project:

Individual writing project: a literacy autobiography Write a draft of your literacy autobiography by the third week of classes. What is a literacy autobiography? Ulla Connor: A literacy autobiography is an account of signif icant factors and events that have contributed to your development as a reader or writer. In writing this autobi­ ography, you will explore in some depth the origins of some of your attitudes and theories about reading and writing as well as your reading and writing practices. (1990, p. 41)

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Treat the community of applied linguists or literacy specialists as your audience. Consider your article a possible submission to journals such as Applied Linguistics, College Com­ position and Communication, or TESOL Quarterly where personal narratives have been published. Consider this writing an example of introspective research, narrative study, or creative nonfiction. Prompts? There are many types of prompts that can help you get started with this writing. Some examples are given at the bottom of this text. [Consider also the prompts in the Appen­ dix of Belcher & Connor, 2001. This is posted on Angel in the folder titled “Resources.”] Examples? See Belcher and Connor (2001) for some biographies by multilingual profession­ als. See how they negotiate voice in their writing. You can use my own literacy biography as an example – see Canagarajah, 2001 (this is posted on Angel in the folder titled Resources). Post your first draft on Angel (under the folder titled by your name) with the following

filename: [Autobio]_[your name]_[Draft number].

Post your first drafts by 09/08, Monday.

Learning from other biographies, scholarship, and theorization of biographies As you engage in the readings, discussions, classroom observations, and writing activities in this course during the semester, you will get opportunities to reconsider your narrative. Keep a journal and make entries on how these resources give new insights into your biog­ raphy. Post your entries in the Discussion Board (under the Forum titled by your name) with the following filename: [ Journal]_[your name]_[number]. Post your revised drafts of the literacy autobiography on Angel (under the folder titled by your name) with the following filename: [Autobio]_[your name]_[Draft number]. I will periodically read your drafts and offer feedback.

Learning from peer feedback Before we discuss the literacy autobiography of each member in this class, I would like oth­ ers to read the draft and send their feedback. Send your comments by Tuesday midnight in preparation for the writer’s presentation on Wednesday. The main question is: If this piece is to be submitted to a journal (e.g., TQ), how can it be revised to have a successful outcome in publication? Post your feedback in the Discussion Board (under the folder titled by the author’s name) with the following filename: [Feeback]_[your name]_[author’name]_[draftnumber]. Questions to be considered in feedback: 1 2 3 4

What seems to be the main finding about literacy trajectories in this narrative? Are there any interesting points related to the theme that you would like to see further developed? How can the tone and style be strengthened to suit an academic journal? How can the author resolve the tension between narrative and scholarship more effectively?

150 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

5 6

Do you have any suggestions for making the organization of the writing more effective? Can you suggest any articles or narratives that the author can read in order to develop the significance of his/her narrative?

Learning from writing process and revision Revise your narrative periodically during the semester to improve the quality for final submission at the end of the semester. Save the various drafts with a new filename. Post your successive drafts on Angel (under the folder titled by your name) with the follow­ ing filename: [Autobio]_[your name]_[Draft number]. Take notes on the types of changes you are making; on the new awareness developing about yourself, the academic community, and academic discourse; on your new realiza­ tions about writing conventions, organization, style, tone, etc.; and on the effectiveness of the peer review, readings, and discussions on the development of your article. Post your entries on Angel (under the folder titled by your name) with the following file­ name: [ Journal]_[your name]_[number].

Review a. Conduct a narrative analysis of each of our essays on trajectories into academic literacy. See Pavlenko (2007) for analytical perspectives and methodologies. (The article is available in the folder titled “Resources” in Angel.) Also: Compare and contrast trajectories into academic literacy of the students in this class. Compare and contrast styles of negotiation, discourse, and voice in writing. Compare and contrast socialization into academic literacy in different national aca­ demic communities (i.e., China vs. USA). In the penultimate week of classes, post a 1- to 2-page report in your Angel folder titled: “Narrative Report.” b. Analyze our collaborative learning and apprenticeship into academic literacy for its effectiveness and outcomes. We will all keep notes on how this experience of apprenticeship and collaborative learning shapes our writing development and understanding of academic literacy. Did we come up with any new practices or discourses as a learning community? How did we all position ourselves in the learning exercise; in our writing activity? What are the negotiation strategies that empower or stifle voice, learning, writing, etc.? How effective is our apprenticeship model for developing competence in academic literacies? In the penultimate week of classes, post a 1- to 2-page report in your Angel folder titled: “Apprenticeship Report.” Any ongoing observations on these review questions can be posted on Angel, under the folder titled by your name, as a journal entry.

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PS Prompts for Literacy Autobiography: 1



4 5 6

What aspects of text construction created the most discomfort for you? What are the different stages of your development as a writer? What was your motivation for learn­ ing writing – i.e., to earn a grade, to fulfill a degree requirement, to express your inner feelings/thoughts, for professional advancement, to become academically functional? How did your motivation influence your development as a writer? What were your impressions of the assignments your teachers gave you? Which com­ position theory or model was their pedagogical practice influenced by? Did you ever feel that the classroom activities bored you? Why or why not? Did you ever feel that the assessment of your writing was unfair? Why? Did you ever feel that you were being forced to adopt an identity or an image of yourself in your writing that you were not comfortable with? What are the implications of the literacy skills you have acquired for your professional and social life now? Would you have preferred the learning experience to have been different – i.e., to suit your “real world” needs? How? Reflect on the reasons for the power or discomfort you feel in writing in English? What image would you like to project of yourself in your English writing – why or why not are you successful in presenting this image? What do you think is the image “native English” speakers form of you from your writing? What do you usually do to shape this image in your favor?

References Belcher, D., & Connor, U. (Eds.). (2001). Reflections on multiliterate lives. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Canagarajah,A. S. (2001).The fortunate traveler: Shuttling between communities and literacies by econ­ omy class. In D. Belcher & U. Connor (Eds.), Reflections on multiliterate lives (pp. 23–37). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Pavelenko, A. (2007). Autobiographic narratives as data in applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 28(2), 163–188.

APPENDIX 2: PART B Midterm Reflection This exercise will help me (and you) understand your focus in the narrative. I can offer you

more constructive suggestions and references based on this report. Post your responses in

your folder, titled “Progress Report.”

What will emerge as the main theme/s in your narrative? (Can you give me your thesis


What is its significance for ESL writing?

How do you add to or complicate writing research?

What published research are you engaging with in this narrative? List your sources.

What additional stages do you need to cover in order to get the desired finished product?

152 Part I: A teacher’s literacy autobiography

APPENDIX 2: PART C End-of-Course Interview On writing development: Considering the writing of your literacy narrativea.




e. f.

Did it make a difference to your writing that in this course your writing assignment was part of a collaborative activity (you read what others are writing; you learnt about the literacy development of your peers; you received oral and written feedback from others, etc.)? What differences, if any, did this collaborative activity do to your attitude to writing? What differences, if any, did this collaborative activity do to your writing style, strate­ gies, or written product? Did you learn anything new or different about writing when you read other students’ writing and gave them feedback? How did other students’ drafts influence your attitudes or thinking? How did this exercise shape your written product? How did the feedback you received from your peers help you in the writing of your literacy narrative ideas and idea development? Structure? Style? Language? Tone? Did this collaborative learning help you critique, appreciate, or develop a fresh per­ spective on scholarship on writing as presented in the textbooks? In other words, did the sharing of peer experiences and opinions, help you understand writing compe­ tence differently? Give some examples. Did you value more the feedback of the instructor or your peers? Why? How were they different? Any suggestions on how we can make this collaborative learning and development of your writing competence more productive or effective for you?

On professional development: a. Did it make a difference to your professional development (your identity as a writ­ ing teacher) that in this course your learning was part of a collaborative activity (you shared with each other your research observations, your literacy development, and ideas on the readings)? What differences, if any, did this collaborative activity do to your attitude to teaching? What differences, if any, did this collaborative activity do to your skills as a teacher? What differences, if any, did this collaborative activity do to your identity as a teacher? b. How was this collaborative professional development different from learning in a tra­ ditional course where collaboration and research activities might be missing? c. How did the activity of combining research with discussions (from textbooks) help in your professional development? What would you have missed if the learning activity was divorced from research?

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e. f.

g. h.


What differences, if any, did the research activity do to your attitude to teaching? What differences, if any, did this research activity do to your skills as a teacher? What differences, if any, did this research activity do to your identity as a teacher? Did you learn anything new or different about the teaching of writing when you read other students’ reports and experiences about their research observations and literacy development? Give some examples. Are there specific examples where your teaching or tutoring approach became differ­ ent because of something you learnt from others in this course? Give some examples. Did this collaborative learning help you critique, appreciate, or develop a fresh per­ spective on scholarship on the teaching of writing as presented in the textbooks? In other words, did the sharing of peer experiences and opinions help you understand scholarship differently? Give some examples. What if any were the limitations and drawbacks of this collaborative and researchbased teacher development course? Any suggestions on how we can make this collaborative learning and development of teacher identity more productive or effective for you?


Students’ literacy



In this section, I provide an illustrative set of LAs written by students in my courses. We can read and appreciate them for their craft and their human interest. We see students from different cultural and geographical backgrounds wrestling with the demands of different languages for representing their identities and interests. However, teachers and students can analyze these essays closely for learning purposes. With that objective in mind, I offer a few questions for exploration while reading these essays. They can generate useful discussion and learning. These questions draw from the analytical constructs and frameworks intro­ duced in the previous section.

Experience 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

What are the challenges writers face in learning new languages? What challenges do writers face for their identity when they develop as multilinguals? What strategies do they adopt to negotiate these challenges? How do they resolve these challenges for satisfactory conclusions? What trajectories do they demonstrate in reaching their resolutions? What are the motivations that explain their approaches?

Craft Envoicing 1. What deviations from standard written English (SWE) do you find in these LAs? 2. What languages other than English do you identify in this essay? Where and when do they occur? Is there a pattern behind such usage? 3. What strategies did you adopt to interpret their meanings? 4. How do the meshed languages or deviations from SWE represent the writer’s identity?

158 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

Recontextualizing 1. Do the writers prepare you for the reading by giving you any clues on the appropriate context that might be helpful to you (i.e., contextualization cues)? 2. In what ways did you change your stance as a reader (“footing”) and your understand­ ing of the nature of the text (“framing”) in order to appreciate this writing? 3. How do familiar metaphors, texts, or words assume different shades of meaning in the rendition of this writer and writing?

Entextualizing 1. What other texts (quotations, citations, etc.) have gone into the construction of this LA? What do they contribute to this text? 2. How do your responses to the LA change as you process the text in real time? Do your responses change from the opening to the conclusion? During the second or third reading? How? Why? 3. Would you say that the identity of the writer, context of writing, the context of your reading, and your dispositions shape your response to the essay?

Interactional 1. What unusual reading strategies are you made to adopt to understand these LAs? 2. Do you sense in the text that the writer has adopted some unusual strategies to write this LA? What? Why? 3. Could the authors have adopted different strategies or codemeshed differently for a more effective uptake? I hope that you will enjoy reading these essays, just as I admired the craft of these students and learned from them.


Ruth Parrish Sauder


In the evening Alice sat on her grandfather’s knee and listened to his stories of faraway places. When he had finished, Alice would say, “When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.” “That is all very well, little Alice,” said her grandfather, “but there is a third thing you must do.” “What is that?” asked Alice. “You must do something to make the world more beautiful,” said her grandfather. “All right,” said Alice. But she did not know what that could be. In the meantime Alice got up and washed her face and ate porridge for breakfast. She went to school and came home and did

her homework. And pretty soon she was grown up. (Cooney, 1982, p. 6) I snuggle closer to my mom as she reads about Alice, who will grow up to be Miss Rumphius. Tomorrow will be my first day of kindergarten at Burbank Elementary School in Seattle, which I regard with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. We’ve just moved from Bowling Green, Ohio, where I spent my first five years learning to say “baaank” and “banaaana” with that good old Midwestern twang. How could I make the world a more beautiful place, I wonder? I decide that I will wait until I grow up, just like Alice. Tomorrow will bring enough new things to think about. But I’m sure that when

160 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

I grow up, knowing the way that I am supposed to make the world more beautiful will be as easy as telling letters apart. Then I remember that lowercase “d” and “b” still confuse me and resolve to try to think about it after school. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I sit in my chair, slowly turning red with embarrassment. “No,” I answer. “It’s not the telephone book. It’s The Hobbit.” My second-grade classmates look puzzled. I wish I hadn’t brought it. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We sit on the floor in the gym, anxiously waiting for the assembly to start. Teachers line the edges of the room, packed with all of the students at Wheeling Elementary1 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It must be important, I think. The whole school is here, even the big kids. Here he is! He stands in front with a microphone. I listen. “I am a Native American,” he says. “You may not know very much about me or about my history. Do you know where you are living? You are living on the land that was cared for by my people. Then, one day many years ago, your people came and did not let us live here anymore.” I sit in horrified disbelief. We just moved to our house a year ago, and it seemed like we bought it. It was stolen? Did my parents not know? “We lived here for many, many years and we cared for this land. Your people came and destroyed this land. The land is weeping.” My people? My people? Me? “Remember, as you walk in this town, that there were families who lived here many, many years ago. Remember that this is not your land. Remember.” When I get home from school, I run to my mom and explain about what happened. “It wasn’t me! I didn’t do it! Why was he blaming it on me?” I am hurt by his words. My mom explains that he probably wants us to see that our nation’s story is uglier than our history books and national anthems say it is. I am still angry and confused. What kind of country is this? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

All throughout elementary school, my favorite subjects were reading and creative writing. I wrote stories about small mouse families and created parodies of the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries my brother liked all while reading Eight Cousins,

Writing toward beauty


Little Women, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, Redwall, The BFG, An Old-Fashioned Girl, Ballet Shoes, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many others. I spent happy afternoons at home recording names of stuffed animals, dolls, Easter eggs, and my brother’s plastic dinosaurs and creating imaginary towns, planning parties, writing invitation lists, and brainstorming present ideas in a blue, spiral-bound notebook I kept on my bookshelf. Somehow writing things down made them seem even more real. Writing was fun, a delight, a way to imagine, and a way to remember. My mother is a librarian and both of my parents are dedicated readers, so our house has always been full to the brim of novels, picture books, magazines, newspapers, reference books, comic books, biographies, and theological literature. We had to move a bookshelf into the dining room just so that the reference books wouldn’t be too far away in case of dinnertime questions. My parents always brought a book along for when they might have to wait at the dentist, before concerts, between meetings, before picking us up from school, and to relax on weekends. Weekly trips to the library and nightly family bedtime readings for my younger brother and me were traditions that started as early as I can remember and continued into middle school. The Wind in the Willows was the first “real” chapter book we read together as a family, and I remember we had fun laughing at the antics of crazy Mr. Toad and lovable Mole. Robinson Crusoe, my first lesson in critiquing literature, was next. We all noticed that everyone in the book had a name . . . except for the mother character. That was all she ever was – “the mother,” with even the other characters never calling her by name. My parents helped me see issues like author bias and worldview through literature like this. The last few books we read together as a family were The Hobbit (which I understood much better that time around) and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. This time, my dad read all of them to us, using different voices for each character. I learned to appreciate the vast worlds that could be created by one imaginative person. I also learned about actively engaging in and interacting with a written text as my parents helped us understand the Advent scripture readings every year. We started making nativity scene characters out of clay and painting them when we were very small, starting with Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus, a few shepherds, and several sheep. My dad took the lead with this, but we gradually added our own contributions (ranging from quite recognizable to less so). Every year, we would add a few, until we had quite a herd: the inn that refused Mary and Joseph, the guests taking up all the space, and the food on the tables in the inn’s kitchen; at least 25 sheep and 5 shepherds; a manger full of culturally inaccurate cats, dogs, pigs, snakes, mice, birds, and rabbits; Elizabeth, John, little John the Baptist; heavyladen camels for the wise men; King Herod, court jesters, and various palace accoutrements; and a packed-out heavenly host. My brother and I looked forward to having my parents read the story for each week of Advent and to acting it out with the pieces we had helped create every year. This involved lots of hopping clay dialogue and zooming angels.

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In middle school, academic writing replaced most opportunities for creative writing. I was somewhat disappointed but associated more academic writing with getting older and figured that I would just have to learn to enjoy papers and essays as much as stories and mysteries. I also decided to start taking French in eighth grade because it was the prettiest language I had ever heard. I continued with the language through high school, fueled by a desire to communicate and understand in what I then saw as an extraordinarily beautiful collection of sounds. My best memories of writing and reading from high school were from my senior year AP English class. While I was not a very vocal participant in class, I enjoyed taking in class discussions and writing the reaction journals we did for the poems, Shakespeare, and short stories we read. Our teacher read our journals when we handed them in and responded to our interpretations and thoughts. It meant a lot to me that our teacher took the time to read each of our journals and was so kind and helpful in her comments. Our family read a book each summer throughout my high school years to discuss with family friends on our annual camping trip. The first year it was 1984 by George Orwell. As always on those camping trips, we hiked, picnicked, talked, swam, and read. But this year, we discussed with greater urgency than normal and it ended with us kids carving “1984 is here” on one of the picnic tables. Though they weren’t big proponents of vandalism, applying literature to the world around me is another skill I learned from my parents. We continued to read a book a year with these family friends – Slaughterhouse-Five, Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, Ishmael, Ruth from the Bible. Each summer around the campfire we wrestled with the way our world was. As I went away to Penn State to major in piano performance and French, I took this love of reading and writing about the world with me. Wondering

From an assigned journal for Sociology 119: Race and Ethnic Relations: 10/14/04 Up to this point in the class, what do you find yourself struggling to believe or accept? I am not having trouble believing or accepting the things we are learning in class. I have learned about these subjects before, and so it is not a struggle for me to believe them. The hardest part for me is to actually conceptualize the injustice and pain in human terms. It’s easy for me to write down the fact that there are 27 million enslaved people in the world. No problem, I can just write a 2 followed by a 7 followed by “million enslaved people.”

Writing toward beauty


But it’s much harder to think about each individual slave, each painful story. It is so hard to imagine slavery existing when I can walk anywhere I want, choose my own classes, go to my church, talk to my friends, and eat whenever I’m hungry. It doesn’t seem like two such different worlds can exist. A slave in El Salvador makes a shirt – I can buy it at the mall. A slave in Brazil makes charcoal for steel – we have strong machines and reinforced buildings . . . I know that I can’t really do anything worthwhile to help until I make this jump from dry facts to more concrete realizations. Thinking about humans just like me who happen to have to work in firework factories in India makes choosing which gym class I need to take next semester seem less important . . . Still, knowledge of injustice isn’t enough. If I settle for just knowing the facts, I miss out on the realization of the humans affected by the injustice. I turn the suffering into statistics, while ignoring the real aspect of it . . . ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Journals like these, assigned for class during my sophomore year of college, helped me articulate the questions and confusion I had and gave me a place to sort through what I was learning. I also started regular private journal writing for the first time in my life during these years. All of my inner turmoil about what to do with my life, how to be a Christian living in the sprawling empire of the United States, and where to use whatever gifts I had take up most of the space in these journal entries. I seriously considered moving to Haiti in the middle of sophomore year, in the hopes that I could somehow redeem my privileged, American, middleclass upbringing. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From my journal: Monday, November 29, 2004 I just finished looking at the MCC [Mennonite Central Committee] Service Tree Website. They have stuff going on in Haiti. A lot of the things I think I’m really interested in are the peace jobs. There is an internship this summer in Vancouver, BC, working at an inner-city thing. They need people (well, a person) in Haiti to do writing and reporting along with the Lutheran group there. None of this seems to involve piano. French, unexpectedly, seems pretty useful. I’d like to go to Haiti, but I’m scared . . . ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Encouraged and challenged by my sociology professor and Tracy Kidder’s book about one doctor in Haiti (Mountains beyond Mountains), I asked my parents if

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I could drop out, sell my stuff, and go. After many agonizing conversations, I decided not to. I was ashamed of how much of this decision was based on my own fear of the unknown and lack of helpful skills, but I resolved never to let myself forget how urgently I felt I needed to be actively useful somehow, somewhere. This inactive guilt found an outlet in peace vigils against the Iraq war, where I stood with ancient, wise-eyed, wispy-haired, sign-toting Quakers every Wednesday. I admired their determination and persistence, all the while wondering what on earth my standing at the Allen St. gates accomplished, other than reminding myself and passersby that a war was happening. It troubled me that I forgot most other days of the week. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 I heard a jazz concert with Katie, Janelle, Jeannine, and Catherine tonight. It was great. It’s hard to know how that beauty fits in with the pain all over the world. I know I can’t fix it myself – it would be idolatrous to think myself capable of that – but I can’t just ignore it all. What should I do? Where to even begin? Prayer is the answer. And love. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I took English 202H: Adult Literacy the fall of my junior year, which introduced us to the field of adult literacy and learning and certified us as PA Literacy Corps tutors. We discussed books and articles on the subject (Mike Rose’s Lives on the Boundary, Jean Anyon’s Ghetto Schooling, Alex Kotlowitz’s There Are No Children Here, and Richard Rodriguez’s Hunger of Memory, among others) and each met with an adult in the community who wanted help with their English. Each student was matched with someone in the area, but they were only able to find enough adults for the other students in the class. So, I helped teach an adult ESL class at the nonprofit Development Center for Adults in a nearby town. This community education program met in the same building as the area’s Institute of Science and Technology (a kind of technical school option for high school students), so there was always a lot happening in the hallways and classrooms beyond our walls. I loved this classroom community and continued to meet with them for two more semesters after my English class ended. I got to know Boris and Meri, a couple from Russia who had grandchildren here. After they found out that I was a piano major, they always made sure to mention their pianist granddaughter who was taking lessons from my teacher and to comment on the latest symphony they had heard. Meri reminded me of my grandmother, and we talked and laughed so much. They had been coming for years, Ginny (the program coordinator) said, and even though neither of them really needed the English help anymore, they enjoyed the interaction. Ruchi, from India, was another grandmother who was also an amazing gardener. She brought potted plants in for the classroom, and helped Ginny take care

Writing toward beauty


of them during breaks in class. Nellie was a nurse from Ukraine who was working to pass her exams so that she could get a job in health care here. She talked about how hard it was to interact with her son, who was learning English much more quickly than she was, and how she hoped this class would make that transition easier. Coming up with activities and lessons for this class was a source of joy for me. We talked about food and how to describe it, prompting stories of town festivals in Russia, holidays in India, and vegetables from Korea. We discussed ways to describe people, which led to a story from Boris about how much he had loved going to his 50-year class reunion in Russia. He said it was much better than the previous ones, at which everyone looked mostly as they did in high school – the beautiful people were beautiful, and the ugly people were ugly. This reunion was special, he said, because the beautiful people were old and the kind people were beautiful. “You could see the kindness in their faces,” he said. “They were happy in their lives, and their wrinkles told the truth.” These courageous people, and so many others in that class, taught me more than I could ever thank them for. Their stories of life and the spirited way in which they interacted in a new place gave me hope. Turning

After practicing one day during the summer before my junior year, my wrists were unexpectedly shot through with pain. I took a few days off, and when it didn’t get better, went to see the doctor. Temporary tendonitis turned into permanent ligament problems and playing piano was no longer possible. Suddenly, I had to find a new direction. As guilty as I had felt about being a privileged American music major, I realized that I had loved music and that I had felt it was a small way to make the world more beautiful. Now that it wasn’t an option, how could I contribute? What could I do to bring beauty? So, I did what I always do in a crisis: read. I read all the books I could find about identifying your passions, gifts, talents, skills; I read the Bible; I read all of Madeleine L’Engle’s books about how to be a Christian and an artist; I read Frederick Buechner’s quote: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet” (Bolles, 2000, p. 56); I read to escape, rest my hands, find a purpose. This time, I also wrote. And this time, it was all prayers – about my questions, hopes, dreams, disappointment, confusion, and grief. This combination of writing and reading helped me reflect on what I loved to do and what I felt I was being led to do. I continued to teach at the Development Center for Adults, and to learn more as I came to know the people and myself better. Over the course of several months, I realized just how much teaching English as a Second Language meant to me. I was overjoyed to have found something that made sense in the context of my “deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger.” I decided to major just in French and finish out my undergrad by studying abroad, so that I could better understand the challenges and joys of life in another language. With more of an understanding of this experience, I would be able to start

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my Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and might be able to relate more effectively to the internationals I would meet. Before I left, my undergraduate honors advisor gave me two pieces of advice: 1) participate in a non-language-related activity with French people, and 2) choose your thesis topic while you are there so that you have something to talk to people about. I decided to do what I could to make both missions happen. Learning

I muster all the beautiful sounds I can. “45, Rue de la Métairie des Oiseaux, Montpellier,” I say hopefully. The man at the train ticket window looks puzzled. “Excusez-moi?” I try again, willing my host family’s address to be understood so that I can get my student discount card before the train from Paris to Montpellier leaves. “Ah! Rue de la Métairie des Oiseaux? C’est ça?” “Oui!” I have never been so relieved about a comprehensible vowel. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While in France, I discovered just how much words and language and English mattered to me. I tried my hardest to write my journal in French every night and succeeded for the first few weeks. I realized that I couldn’t begin to express how I truly felt in French. I knew the vocabulary and the structures and I had all the tools, but I couldn’t feel in French. It was impossible to write anything about missing my family, boyfriend, friends, or home in anything other than English. I began to write most of my journal entries in English, with forays into French when describing my day or the meal from the night before. I met every week with an American friend to talk, read, and pray in French. Through these meetings, my ability to express deeper emotions improved, but I still felt that most of my words lost their soul in translation. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From my journal while in France: vendredi, le 12 janvier, 2007 [Friday, January 12th, 2007] Today was za little lazy, because I didn’t have any classes. I woke up around 9 and, after breakfast, walked down to Notre Dame de la Paix, la poste, et des magasins. Ils sont tous très proche! I saw service times, mailed letters, and bought yaourt, muesli croustillant avec 6 fruits, et trois pommes. Then I had a lovely lunch and read. At 15h, I met Chelsea à la fontaine. After wandering a bit, we went au bureau. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Writing toward beauty


mercredi, 21 mars, 2007 [Wednesday, March 21st, 2007] What joy! Mom and Dad got here last night. Got to spend the night avec eux à l’hôtel hier soir.* So good to talk to them! . . . *noticing that French comes naturally for describing events, places, but feelings still are better en anglais ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I did enjoy getting to know my tiny, incredibly diverse, friendly church community that met just across from the abbey near the city park. I also discovered the beginnings of my thesis topic while I was there, when the famous Abbé Pierre died a few weeks after I arrived. Almost completely unknown in the United States, he was a beloved force for justice and change in France, tackling problems like homelessness that no one else wanted to address. A Catholic priest, he was an unlikely candidate for such a position, since observable signs of religion are not generally well-viewed in France. Why was it, I wondered, that this man had a funeral at Notre Dame, attended by dignitaries from all over Europe, and was on the front page of every paper for at least a week? Why did my host mother cut out newspaper articles about him for me and make sure I was there to watch the funeral with her when she thought I was a bit bizarre for going to church? “Every week?” she would ask. “That seems like a lot.” I concluded that she, and France, saw justice in this man and were willing to overlook his religiousness in order to see more of it. What beauty! I learned how to do the three-kiss “bise” (the expected greeting for strangers and friends), where to go for the best deal on Brie and baguettes, how to check books out of the university library, how the French presidential elections worked, how to say the Lord’s Prayer in French, inadequate ways to respond to the beggars on every corner, where to find the only public restroom in the city, how to reconcile the fact that I had to use formal “vous” with my host mom even though I could use “tu” with God, how to buy large quantities of stamps for the many letters I sent, and how much more French was than just a beautiful language. But I also learned that being a stranger was incredibly difficult, and so much more challenging in a culture that spoke a different language. I saw it in Imane, the delightful Moroccan sixth grader I tutored every Tuesday in the “banlieues” (“suburbs,” literally; the section of the city with the lowest socioeconomic status). She was an excellent student, passionate about school, and extremely hardworking and intelligent. But no matter how hard she worked, how perfect her French became, or how much she studied, nothing she did would change the fact that her immigrant family was viewed with a tinge of suspicion by city officials, middle-class families, and the French system as a whole. “Les immigrés” were a constant topic of discussion in the national newspapers, my university classes, the city graffiti, and my host family’s home that presidential election spring. While I could “pass” as an acceptable French person as long as I didn’t open my mouth, people like Imane and her family were usually seen as slightly less

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trustworthy and not quite French enough. This unfair distinction made the fact that I felt that no one there knew who I really was, how I really talked, or what I really loved even more disturbing. I knew they saw a superficial version of me – the one I could convey with my “advanced” French. What did that mean for Imane? This sense of isolation made me understand just how much I wanted to work with people new or marginalized in the United States. Maybe I could be like the people in France for whom I was especially thankful – the ones who let me know that they understood my discomfort and lack of ability and wanted to get to know me anyway. I visited a monastery for a week in February, bringing my load of privileged guilt with me. This monastery is in a tiny town, Taizé, and welcomes young people for week-long retreats focusing on silence, music, peace, justice, and active reconciliation across national and denominational lines. I was so excited to go, even though it meant explaining to my ever-patient host mom that I was going to a religious place for a whole week. She kindly lent me her sleeping bag, and wished me well, though I knew she thought it was an unaccountably strange way to spend my vacances scolaires. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From my journal while at Taizé: 20/02/07 After the intro, we broke into small groups . . . There are 2 people from France, 2 from Portugal, 1 from Holland, 2 from Estonia, 1 from Poland, and me in our group. We all get by in English, mostly, but Inês, the Portuguese girl, translates for André . . . and I translate for the French people when they want it . . . It was really cool to hear such wisdom from all these people from different countries. And, such wisdom expressed in what is their 2nd or 3rd language! Very humbling. I must guard against forgetting that ESL learners know so much and are incredibly articulate in their 1st language, no matter how hard it is to express what they mean in English. We talked about the importance of trusting others, not giving in to fear, helping strangers, helping our prochains, not just those far away, realizing that both are important. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Being a translator in this group felt both like a staggering responsibility and a soaring delight. I was interpreting words from people speaking deeply held truths in my still-developing French. One of the French people took me aside afterward to very kindly tell me that one thing he noticed was I used “change” in French, when it really should have been “changement.” He said adding “-ment” to the end of noun forms in those particular situations would be a good thing to watch out for. I was so thankful for his honest and specific correction! Though I was usually uncomfortable doing the same for the English language learners I worked with,

Writing toward beauty


I realized that this kind of real task accompanied by gentle, directed feedback really made a difference. I still remember his advice. Since young people come from all over the world to take these retreats, the songs and prayers happen in many languages during the services. The week I was there, Portuguese, German, French, English, and Dutch were the biggest groups and so we sang and heard scripture and prayers in those languages. Knowing that God and people near you can understand exactly what is being said even though you only have a general idea of the translation is humbling and beautiful. During this time at Taizé, French became more than a language for school. It became a language in which to talk with and about God. As I discussed the Bible texts and questions in the discussion groups, I was able to express my hopes and questions in a language not my own. Talking about and with the mystery of God was somehow more possible in a language that reached within and beyond my understanding. To this day, French is the language I feel best using for prayer and singing. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

23/02/07 A few years ago, I couldn’t let go of the fact that I lived in a rich country with more than enough food and clothes and medicine while kids were starving in other places. I felt very guilty about having enough. I know that my material wealth doesn’t make me who I am, but it was and is a part of how I view the world and how others view me. And it’s something I have to accept, at least for now, about myself. I am a part of a small percentage of the world’s population with access to food, clean water, education, medical care. Another part of my identity that has been hard to accept is that I am American. I also feel guilty about what my country has done in the world and is doing and my inability to change it. Those are both things I’m still trying to accept about who I am and what my life has been like. ... Then tea with Katya (Germany) and Michelina (Poland) . . . Katya studied for 3 weeks in Iowa, where she ate fast food, found out that no American kids knew anything about Germany, and learned about spray-on butter for baking (seen as very strange . . . as is Cheez Whiz). It was wonderful to talk to them. We also talked about their perceptions of America and Bush. Katya especially said that I shouldn’t feel guilty about it, because I couldn’t change anything. She evidently was in the US during the 2004 election and marched through the streets in Iowa with huge Kerry signs. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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I was amazed at the forgiveness of those I encountered, some of whom had never met anyone from the United States before. I was uncomfortable in my identity as an American, and yet they were happy to get to know me. At the end of the week, one friend gave me this note: “Pour ma première amie d’outre-atlantique – les États-Unis ont maintenant une image humaine . . . et ils ont de la chance que tu les reprèsentent dans mon coeur!” [For my first friend from the other side of the Atlantic – the United States now has a human image . . . and the US is fortunate that you represent it in my heart]. I was staggered and grateful that somehow people were able to overlook this part of me. I also found the second half of my thesis there: Frère Roger, who had founded Taizé after World War II as a place of reconciliation, was fairly unknown in France. My host mother, despite living just a few hours from Taizé, had never heard of it. This was confirmed when I arrived back in Montpellier and attempted to mention it to people at church. In contrast, European young people come to the retreat center by the thousands every week during the summer. In the US, Taizé-style prayer services are well-known in many churches, but the peacemaking and conflict reconciliation focus of the monastery is usually lost. Why was it that I had never heard of Abbé Pierre, who was so famous in France; and that no one in France had ever come across Frère Roger, even though (parts of) his story had seemed to cross the world? I decided to compare these two figures, their desire to make the world more beautiful, and reactions of the secular and religious press in France and the US. I found that Abbé Pierre’s religious life was usually downplayed in the French press, with a focus instead on his incredible commitment to justice in French society for those who were least considered. He was almost completely ignored in the US press. Frère Roger’s approach was much more outwardly religious, which was all that the French or US press generally covered, leaving the idea of young people going home to their own communities to be seekers of justice and reconciliation out of it entirely. Using French to explore, research, and write about a topic that was so close to my own life questions helped me gain confidence in my ability to express emotions and important ideas in a new language. Back in Montpellier, my classmates and I labored through pronunciation classes, and read La Tempête, by Aimé Césaire, a postcolonial retelling of Shakespeare. I also sang with a few other American students in the university choir. I saw why my advisor had recommended this: the French students were able to see that we were more than language learners, and we were able to see that they were more than language speakers. It was such a relief to be able to use other parts of my brain and contribute to an endeavor where I was an equal partner. As my time in France came to an end, I began to understand just how remarkable the people I had worked with at the adult learning center were. Leaving home forever and making a new one in a new language was incredibly challenging, and they were doing it so gracefully. I realized that I had so much more to learn, that maybe I could be useful, that I might be able to make the world more beautiful after all, that I had learned about one expression of life in a new place, and that I was ready to come home.

Writing toward beauty



With renewed motivation, I finished my thesis and graduated. After winter break, I began my master’s degree, writing academic papers with gusto, pondering the task of writing academically in English again, and laughing when all my internal synonym searches pulled up French words. I began volunteering at ESL classes, working at a United Way organization focused on connecting internationals with our community, teaching undergraduate French and ESL classes, and keeping my journal updated with the amazingly courageous, multilingual people I was so honored to work with. During and since my master’s, I have grown to know women who are political refugees from Kazakhstan, children who came from South Korea without enough English experience to understand their lives in school, university students from all over the world who have left everyone they know to study in a new place, student parents who balance heavy loads with grace, and Iraqi refugee families who have shown me wildly generous hospitality even as I hope to welcome them. The willingness of these incredible people to share their lives with me has humbled, inspired, and challenged me to learn from their example. I have not found a way to balance the privilege I have with the injustice in the world. But these multilingual mentors are teaching me that courage, wisdom, and joy are qualities that shine even in the most difficult circumstances, and that learning transforms everyone involved. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In writing this narrative, theoretical threads seemed to emerge, tying together the various ways in which I learned about and through writing. I did learn both in and outside of school, but my tendency to value and remember the learning I did outside of formal school contexts strikes me as I reflect on them. This started in elementary school as my family read together, continued through high school and college as I wrote to articulate my new perspectives and life directions, and persisted through my experiences in the community ESL classes I taught. This learning outside of graded, assigned school bounds felt so much more significant in my development as a learner. As a result, I feel that I am still drawn to these informal learning settings. This attitude toward learning may also be explained through study of the concept of transformational learning, as described by J. Mezirow (2000), a scholar in the field of adult education. He states that such learning can happen in four different ways: “by elaborating existing frames of reference, by learning new frames of reference, by transforming points of view, or by transforming habits of mind,” (2000, p. 19). Mezirow also identifies a series of steps that can be part of the transformative learning process:  1. A disorienting dilemma  2. Self-examination with feelings of fear, anger, guilt, or shame

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 3.  4.  5.  6.  7.  8.  9. 10.

A critical assessment of assumptions Recognition that one’s discontent and process of transformation are shared Exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions Planning a course of action Acquiring knowledge and skills for implementing one’s plans Provisional trying of new roles Building competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships A reintegration into one’s life on the basis of conditions dictated by one’s new perspective (2000, p. 22)

I feel that these stages accurately describe the phases I experienced as I searched for direction in my life, dealt with the loss of piano and music, learned abroad, and found a home in teaching English. I was able to process these phases through writing, something I feel that I would not have been able to do in any other way. Looking back on the turning points of my learning development, it seems that I used writing to articulate, make sense of, and move through new situations and beliefs, coming to new understandings of my frames of reference. Another article that relates to this process is entitled “Transformative Learning for the Common Good” by L. A. Parks Daloz. Parks Daloz (2000) relates that there are four coexistent conditions under which transformative learning (particularly with the aim of social action) is possible: “the presence of the other, reflective discourse, a mentoring community, and opportunities for committed action” (p. 112). In my experiences, I feel that these four categories were areas of learning in many ways, whether it was listening to a Native American man speak about his home, journaling about my confusion, being mentored by my family, church, community, and university, or learning from the ways in which they enabled me to be, know, search, and act. Four and a half years after I first wrote this narrative, at the end of my first year as a full-time ESL instructor at an intensive English program and my fourth year of postdegree teaching, it is helpful to be reminded of this stage in my development as a person, a language learner, and an aspiring language teacher. I added a few additional stories, but largely kept it the same. Having supportive environments around me as I questioned and developed as a person and as a writer meant that I was and am able to experience learning in this life-changing way, and that it is something for which I am extremely thankful. As a teacher, I hope to be able to help create spaces for these same transformational learning processes in the lives of my students and to understand the difficulties that come with these transitions. It is instructive to see how my identity as a language learner has shaped my teaching philosophy and interactions with my students. I see six major ways in which my learning was nurtured, and in which I hope to foster and cultivate the learning of my students: 1. Helping each learner feel known and valued in a strong community, 2. Finding out what each learner cares about and searching for ways in which each learner can pursue their interests through the new language in class, 3. Connecting real and authentic tasks to assessment,

Writing toward beauty


4. Using learner-created written reflection on performance in class, 5. Including as many real-life, beyond-the-classroom experiences as possible, and 6. Encouraging learners find ways to engage with the language in new contexts through independent extracurricular activities that take place outside the usual learner/expert paradigm. This written record of my experiences, hopes, and fears has helped me realize how my everyday teaching decisions are constantly being influenced by my own learning story. As I reflect on this narrative and on the ways in which I have been transformed through learning, I am filled with gratitude to the many teachers, learners, and mentors who have devoted part of their beautiful stories to inspiring mine. Beginning

Alice grows up at the end of the book. She becomes Miss Rumphius and decides, after many travels and beautiful adventures, that she will settle by the sea. She is getting older and weaker. That winter, as she looks through the seed catalogs, she decides she’d like to plant some lupines. That spring, she does, all around her house. The following spring, she can’t believe her eyes! The lupines have spread all over the hills around her house, and down to the town. She decides to plant some more, scattering them everywhere she goes. All summer, they bloom in gorgeous colors all over town. “Miss Rumphius had done the third, the most difficult thing of all!” (Cooney, 1982, p. 24). My Great-aunt Alice, Miss Rumphius, is very old now. Her hair is very white. Every year there are more and more lupines. Now they call her the Lupine Lady. Sometimes my friends stand with me outside her gate, curious to see the old, old lady who planted the fields of lupines. When she invites us in, they come slowly. They think she is the oldest woman in the world. Often she tells us stories of faraway places. “When I grow up,” I tell her, “I too will go to faraway places and come home to live by the sea.” “That is all very well, little Alice,” says my aunt, “but there is a third thing you must do.” “What is that?” I ask. “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” “All right,” I say. But I do not know yet what that can be. (Cooney, 1982, pp. 25–28). I am not grown up yet. I do not know yet. But I hope I will find a way to make the world more beautiful.

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Bibliography Alcott, L. M. (1868–1869). Little women. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics. Alcott, L. M. (1875). Eight cousins. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. Anyon, J. (1997). Ghetto schooling. New York: Teachers College Press and Teachers College, Columbia University. Bolles, R. N. (2000). How to find your mission in life. Berkeley, CA:Ten Speed Press. Bradbury, R. (1953). Fahrenheit 451. New York: Simon & Schuster. Burnett, F. H. (1911). The secret garden. New York: Harper Collins Publishers. Cooney, B. (1982). Miss Rumphius. New York:Viking. Dahl, R. (1984). The BFG. New York: Puffin Books. Defoe, D. (1719). Robinson Crusoe. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. Grahame, K. (1908). The wind in the willows. New York:Ariel Books and Henry Holt & Co. Jacques, B. (1986). Redwall. New York:Avon Books. Kidder, T. (2003). Mountains beyond mountains. New York: Random House. Kotlowitz, A. (1992). There are no children here. New York:Anchor Books. L’Engle, M. (1972). A circle of quiet. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Lee, H. (1963). To kill a mockingbird. New York: Harper Perennial. Lewis, C. S. (1954). The chronicles of narnia. New York: Harper Collins Publishers. Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of transformative theory. In J. Mezirow (Ed.), Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc. Montgomery, L. M. (1908). Anne of green gables. New York:W.W. Norton & Co. Orwell, G. (1949). Nineteen eighty-four. Fairfield, IA: 1st World Library. Parks Daloz, L.A. (2000).Transformative learning for the common good. In J. Mezirow (Ed.), Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc. Quinn, D. (1992). Ishmael. New York: Bantam and Turner Books. Rodriguez, R. (1982). Hunger of memory. New York: Bantam and Turner Books. Rose, M. (1989). Lives on the boundary. New York: Penguin Books. Speare, E. G. (1958). The witch of blackbird pond. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Streatfeild, N. (1936). Ballet shoes. New York: Random House. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1937). The hobbit. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954–1955). The lord of the rings trilogy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Vonnegut, K. (1965). Slaughterhouse-five. London:Vintage.


I was born in the small county of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, which is located in the northwest of China. Like every child raised in the idyllic Tibet, my childhood was filled with abundant legends, sagas, myths, and ghost stories, both inherited and recreated, over the past generations. The raconteur would always be a family’s grandma who has a huge stock of fairy tales and sophisticated narrative skills. I believe my grandma’s favorite was the story of King Gesar, narrated with rhythmized words and poetic sentences. The story based in Khampa opened self-introspection and the awakening of national conscious­ ness in me. It taught me how our ancestors bravely fought against evil, how splendid and rich our culture is, and how our great nation bred generations of noble people. However, later as I grew up, I was sent in 1995 to an elementary school where the medium of instruction was Chinese. From that time, the door of developing both Chi­ nese and English literacy was opened, but the door of Tibetan literacy and identity was almost closed. Ironically, coming to the US for graduate studies in 2012 and developing my academic literacy has reopened paths to my heritage. Now, when I look back at the history of my literacy development, I find that the different contexts where I developed my literacy have helped me to construct a more complex identity. Both in-school and out­ of-school literacies have complicated and complemented each other in the development of this hybrid identity.

In-school context According to Hull and Schultz (2002), most people tend to believe that literacy devel­ opment ties to schooling. Children develop their reading and writing ability mainly in school. To me, my L1 and L2 teachers taught me a lot of skills to read and write, e.g., how to scan and skim an article, how to grasp the gist of an article, and how to develop a para­ graph and essay. But in school contexts, in most cases, neither the teacher nor the student has the right to decide the curriculum, learning tasks, and assessment. On the contrary, the teacher will set “absolute task parameters for students” (Erickson, 1984, p. 533). Under such circumstances, students’ test performance will be improved but their cognitive and

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affective development might be hampered because they do not receive meaningful and rel­ evant pedagogical resources (Erickson, 1984). As for me, the product-oriented instruction I experienced during the process of developing L1 and L2 literacies hampered my cognitive development. In China, writing templates was one of the main ways that I learned to construct both my L1 and L2 essays. Both in elementary (1995–2001) and middle schools (2001–2007), my teachers would introduce or analyze the structure of an article, draw the structure on the blackboard, and then ask us to follow the structure and write a similarly structured compo­ sition. Ferris and Hedgcock believe that the product-oriented approach “was not grounded in a fully articulated theory of education or cognitive development” (2004, p. 4). In my case, it is true that product-oriented process did not facilitate my literacy development. When I prepared for the TOEFL and GRE writing, it suddenly occurred to me that I had not improved in writing much because I had continued to use the same model as I used in middle school. To some extent, all writing templates I learned were same. But admittedly, templates helped in some ways. It took me little time and effort to master the templates, and following the templates helped me get a relatively high score quite easily. Later I became an undergraduate student in 2007 and changed my major to English in 2008. It was at that time that I realized the powerful role critical thinking plays in reading and writing, and how writing in turn influences the development of my critical thinking. During English and American literature classes, we read poems, short stories, and novels. The poems were difficult because many of them were written in old English. Our teacher would let us read poems after class and bring our questions to the following class when we would discuss the poems together. He encouraged us to write down our own understand­ ing of the poems. Unlike speaking, writing could give students more time to explore and consider different perspectives of an issue and undertake a better reflection (Wade, 1995). In my case, our teacher always told me that there was no definitive answer for understand­ ing the poem. We just had to make sure that our explanations made sense to other peo­ ple. Therefore, with his encouragement and my gradual improvement of writing ability, I began to write down my interpretations of a poem or a novel. Sometimes I just wrote down the interpretation of one sentence or a word from the poem. I began to like reading English novels and writing book reviews for them. When I was a sophomore, our department opened an English composition course for us. Our writing teacher took a process-oriented approach because his belief was “writing is rewriting.” The process-oriented approach has been associated with students’ cognitive development (see Ferris & Hedgcock, 2004, p. 5). In my case at least, after experiencing this approach, I could accomplish the writing process step by step, from making an out­ line, to prewriting, to drafting, to getting feedback, to revising and to editing. We were encouraged to explore and convey our thoughts consistently. We were divided into groups to revise each other’s articles. We were not only required to correct the grammatical mis­ takes but also to give feedback on content to peers’ articles. Therefore, we may rewrite our articles several times. Some of my classmates would revise their articles more than ten times. Mendonca and Johnson (1994) found that “students can reconceptualize their ideas in light of their peers’ reactions” (as cited in Ferris & Hedgcock, 2004, p. 226) and Leki (1990) found that “responding to peers’ writing builds the critical skills needed to analyze and revise one’s own writing” (as cited in Ferris & Hedgcock, 2004, p. 226). I think the process of editing my classmates’ articles and revising my articles improved my language,

Rediscovering identity through literacy


helped narrow down or expand my ideas, and refine, rethink and relocate my thoughts. My English reading and writing improved a lot during my undergraduate stage. After getting my bachelor’s degree, I came to the US in 2012 and have experienced a mix of the teaching approaches I had encountered earlier. I have to read lots of academic papers and books in a limited time and write a reaction paper on the reading material. This type of assignment limits me in focusing on a certain topic, but also encourages me to have my own voice and thought. Although it is time consuming and stressful, I do appreciate the exercise because both my reading and writing ability are enhanced. All these lead me to the more effective ways of writing a good academic text. The in-school context helps me to be a proficient reader and writer in the academic setting. However, the out-of-school context helps me to develop another kind of literacy and identity.

Out-of-school context For Street, the “western notion of schools or academic literacy is one form of literacy among many literacies” (as cited in Hull & Schultz, 2002, p. 22). Also, Hull & Schultz argue that Vygotskian perspectives and activity theory treat literacy “as part of integral units of human life, motivated by human goals, enacted in the course of everyday activi­ ties, especially beyond the school” (2002, p. 17). The New Literacy Studies field relates lit­ eracy to discourse, and Gee (1996) believes that “people use discourse to affiliate or display their membership in particular social groups. Discourses are, in effect, an ‘identity kit’ or a group of behaviors, activities and beliefs that are recognized by others” (as cited in Hull & Schultz, 2002, p. 22). All these indicate that, apart from in-school contexts, people could develop their literacy and their identity from other contexts in relation to social life and discourses. As a girl who was always very independent, I did not value school education too much. And I firmly believed that I would benefit more from out of school contexts. When I was studying at elementary school, the stories told by my grandmother were always lingering in my mind, so I reread parts of the Chinese version of King Gesar and his thirty mighty generals’ stories and some folklore. The vivid descriptions and colorful illus­ trations fired my imagination and whetted my curiosity. If I had questions and my family did not know how to answer, I usually went to the monastery nearby my home. I asked the Lama questions about King Gesar and the Gods living up in the heavens. He always had insightful points and satisfactory answers. I was very impressed by the Lama’s erudition. He told me that his secret weapon was reading. Thus, I motivated myself to read more. Later, when I went to middle school in 2001, I spent all my pocket money buying lots of books. Interestingly, these books had nothing to do with studies. They were mostly children’s literature. Novels written by Zhang Yueran and Guo Jingming, who had tal­ ent in youth literature, were growing in popularity among middle school students at that time. Therefore, they became my idols and their books were always best sellers. The dia­ ries I wrote during that time reflected how I thought about things around me and myself. Under deep influence of these books and the time of adolescence, the diaries and the articles I wrote were full of idealism and sentimentality. I gradually started to like keeping diaries, and that passion continues. Later, when I was enrolled in university in 2007, I started to come into contact with the Internet. At that time, I had my first personal web page – QQ zone and RenRen.

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I started to read the articles posted by my friends, which turned out to be the best way to get to know my friends. I also started to post my articles and receive my friends’ comments. Their comments gave me some clues about how to rearrange my words, how to improve my expression, and even how to change my life and myself. Writing and getting feedback from others really improved my writing ability a lot. Most importantly, we shared the same Internet culture and belonged to the same discourse communities. We used netspeak that could only be understood by young people. For example, we used 神马 instead of 什么 (“what”), v587 instead of 威武霸气 (“powerful”) to prove we belonged to the same Internet culture. Thus we excluded our elders, who were estranged from what these words and symbols meant (see Sugimoto & Levin, 2000). When I started to use Facebook in the US in 2012, certain cultural differences became more visible to me. I could not participate with high proficiency as I used to in QQ zone and RenRen. I did not understand what LOL, ADIH, and BTW meant at the very begin­ ning. The Internet terminology and images I used before made no sense to American peers because the use of the Internet is culturally grounded (see Selfe & Selfe, 1994). I believe this is what Sugimoto & Levin found when they argue that “literacy and communica­ tion technologies are adapted, not adopted” (2000, p. 134). We use the same technology, but we attach different meanings to technology. Technology is just a resource, and with the help of technology, we develop different literacies and cultures. Developing literacy through the Internet not only helped me broaden my horizons but also allowed me to see that cultural differences existed in new technologies and that it in turn influenced my literacy development. The school library at Penn State has provided me with good reading resources. Ferris and Hedgcock (2004) argue that “reading may actually make a more significant contri­ bution to writing proficiency than the practice of writing, particularly when reading is self-initiated or self-selected” (p. 42). In the library, I can now choose the books according to my interests. Such self-selecting reading materials encouraged me to read more and to some degree improve my writing ability. I have learned a lot of new vocabulary and I am unconsciously influenced by the ways other authors construct their essays. It was in our school library that I first came to know the Karmapa, who is called our spiritual leader of the 21st century. This happened when I was reading Gaby Naher’s Wrestling With the Dragon (2004). Robert Burns’ ballads (1786), Byron’s sonnets (1818–1823), even Tshan˙s­ dbyan˙s-rgya-mtsho’s poems (1683–1706) – all these great works knitted a marvelous pic­ ture about life, love, and belief for me. Especially Tshan˙s-dbyan˙s-rgya-mtsho, who is the sixth Dalai Lama, made me quite curious about his mysterious life and passionate creations of poetry. Therefore, I looked for any piece of relevant research about him and could not wait to read them. These out-of-school literacies helped shape my identity in profound ways. Finally, when I got the courage to have a conversation with one of my friends who studies in the Univer­ sity of Hong Kong about grandma’s stories of King Gesar one day in the second semester of my MA study, I found neither the Chinese nor English edition could satisfy me and revive my memories. It was then that I realized how regretful it was that I could not speak or write Tibetan. The education that I had received completely in Chinese had led to my attrition of Tibetan. I had become a Tibetan illiterate. I was pained when I realized that we have the longest epics of the world, but I could not read them; we have the most thought­ ful Buddhist works but I could not understand them; we have the remarkable fruits of a powerful civilization but I could not taste them. I realized that every fact I had acquired

Rediscovering identity through literacy


about Tibetan culture and history during my schooling relied on texts written in or trans­ lated into Chinese or English. Therefore, I decided to learn Tibetan. In He’s (2006) study, discovering cultural and social identities turned out to be the main motivation for Chinese people to learn their heritage language. In my case, the need to connect with my cultural identity encouraged me to learn the Tibetan language. I hope I can explore more the splen­ did Tibetan culture and introduce it to people who are unfamiliar with it.

Conclusion When I am learning Tibetan, I benefit a lot from Chinese and English learning meth­ ods and reading habits, learned from both in-school and out-of-school contexts. I pre­ fer to choose Tibetan reading materials I am familiar with, such as the stories I heard from my grandma and the novels or poems in Chinese and English I read before. Like­ wise, although the Tibetan grammar has obvious differences from English and Chinese, I can still draw from common grammatical components. For instance, the eight cases of Tibetan nouns are similar to Chinese and English, but very complicated and cannot be distinguished by form. I also memorize the vocabulary, which I sometimes annotate in Chinese or English. Utilizing different languages to memorize something will not only strengthen our memory, but also deepen our understanding of these languages. Mean­ while, I try to talk to Tibetans in exile at Penn State. These interactions help me construct the linguistic habits of Tibetan as well as my Tibetan identity. They also encourage my “feeling of pride, belonging, and connection to the language community” (Li, 2006, as cited in Comanaru & Noels, 2009, p. 136). Heritage language scholar He (2004) has stated that “identity construction is intri­ cately linked with heritage language learning” (p. 199). My Tibetan identity is gradually being constructed through the Tibetan language learning. The more I combine different languages to research the Tibetan civilization, the more I realize the embarrassing cur­ rent predicament of my people and culture. I can never forget my grandma’s happy and proud face when she told us how King Gesar summoned his people and bravely defeated the devils to free people from their difficulties. Today, when I scribble Tibetan alphabets, I strongly feel the sense of responsibility and passion for transmitting my learning experi­ ences to those Tibetan students who may have not learned our mother tongue and are ignorant of our glorious culture. Now, I am sitting by the window and writing this essay. The sunshine is pouring down upon me. I am suddenly reminded of the strong sunlight in my hometown, a small county in the roof of the world. I believe that these are the same shafts of sunlight I once enjoyed in my hometown, because it gives me warmth and strength when I am alone in this foreign country. I also believe that, like the sunlight, my Tibetan literacy and identity that largely developed in out of school contexts give me warmth and strength to master my in-school literacy development. The philosophy developed from Tibetan Buddhism actually influences the way in which I think of issues in academic reading and writing. It encourages me to view things from different angles, mixed with both a healthy skepticism and compassion. For me, Tibetan Buddhism is more than just a religion. It is more like a philosophy that is based on observation, experimentation, and verification of truth. The process of a monk getting the Geshe degree can illustrate this. If a monk wants to get the Geshe degree, he has to engage in a debate with different monks and try to persuade them with his insightful

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and persuasive thoughts. The debating process encourages monks to read Buddhist Sutras as much as possible and question the flaw of his opponent. Whenever I read an academic article, I cannot help writing comments and putting question marks in the margins. Like the saying, “If you ask a right question, then you will get a right answer,” I hope that asking insightful questions will help me to progress in my academic study. Meanwhile, at the core of Tibetan Buddhism is altruism. Our spiritual leader once called for a compassionate approach to view issues because we are all so closely interconnected. His insightful view influences the way in which I think about the conflicts of ideologies, politics, and religion, even in academia. Now, when I write an essay, I will never take an extreme position as I did before because I know the ultimate reason why we make a claim is because we want to resolve problems, not make new problems. And everyone who is involved in today’s controversial problems deserves compassion because we are all the same in human nature. For me, my own literacy development is a gift. Through it, I taste three different kinds of languages and culture. Most importantly, it leads me to my home, the place where I truly belong: ཅོ་ནེ་།.

References Burns, R. (1786). Poems: Chiefly in the Scottish dialect. Kilmarnock: J.Wilson. Byron, G. G. (1818–1823). Don Juan (A. Barton, Ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Comanaru, R., & Noels, K. A. (2009). Self-determination, motivation, and the learning of Chinese as a heritage language. Canadian Modern Language Review/La Revue canadienne des langues vivantes, 66(1), 131–158. Erickson, F. (1984). School literacy, reasoning, and civility: An anthropologist’s perspective. Review of Educational Research, 54(4), 525–546. Ferris, D. R., & Hedgcock, J. S. (2004). Teaching ESL composition: Purpose, process, and practice. New York: Routledge. Gee, J. P. (1996). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses (2nd ed.). London:Taylor & Francis. He,A.W. (2004). Identity construction in Chinese heritage language classes. Pragmatics, 14(2–3), 199–216. He, A. W. (2006). Toward an identity theory of the development of Chinese as a heritage language. Heritage Language Journal, 4(1), 1–28. Hull, G., & Schultz, K. (2002). School’s out: Bridging out-of-school literacies with classroom practice. New York: Teachers College Press. Leki, I. (1990). Potential problems with peer responding in ESL writing classes. CATESOL Journal, 3, 5–19. Li, G. (2006). Biliteracy and trilingual practices in the home context: Case studies of Chinese-Canadian children. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 6, 355–381. Mendonca, C. O., & Johnson, K. E. (1994). Peer review negotiations: Revision activities in ESL writing instruction. TESOL Quarterly, 28, 745–769. Naher, G. (2004). Wrestling the dragon: In search of the boy lama who defied China. London: Rider. Selfe, C. L., & Selfe, R. J. (1994).The politics of the interface: Power and its exercise in electronic contact zones. College Composition and Communication, 45(4), 480–504. Sugimoto,T., & Levin, J. A. (2000). Multiple literacies and multimedia: A comparison and Japanese and American use of the internet. In G. E. Hawisher & C. L. Selfe (Eds.), Global literacies and the world-wide web (pp. 133–154). Portland, OR: Psychology Press. Tshan˙s-dbyan˙s-rgya-mtsho, Dalai Lama VI. (1683–1706). White crane: Love songs of the sixth Dalai lama (G. R.Waters, Ed and Trans.). Buffalo, NY:White Pine Press. Wade, C. (1995). Using writing to develop and assess critical thinking. Teaching of Psychology, 22(1), 24–28.


I was exposed to English at a young age (when I was eight years old), grew up with great passion for learning it as a second language, and then entered a foreign language university to study in English language and literature. During these years of learning and practic­ ing, I tried to conquer language deficiencies, values differences, and contrasting rhetorics in order to reach a land where I could use my English “sophisticatedly” according to the native speaker standards. However, my thinking has changed during this journey. I now realize that my style of English writing is inevitably derived from my Chinese style that has been cultivated from the very early period of childhood and all the way through my adulthood. Looking back, I see that my favorite Chinese writing genre 散文 sanwen,with its own rhetorical features, has colored every piece of English writing I have done. I have come to realize that I cannot separate myself into two different people with different essences, i.e., one who can write authentically in Chinese and one who can achieve the same goal in English. I endorse what the Indian avant-garde philosopher and novelist Raja Rao (1938) claims: “One has to convey in a language that is not one’s own the spirit that is one’s own . . . We cannot write like the English, we should not. We can write only as Indians” (p. vii). Therefore, I have decided to write English with a Chinese heart.

Oral literacy When I reflect upon my preschool literacy development, I come to realize that it was a world full of oral words! That was a time full of sweet memories that lingered in my childhood. I remember the moments when I lay in bed and cradled my teddy bear, quiet and sleepy, looking at my mom and listening to her bedtime stories. Then I was absorbed into the kingdom of fairy tales: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Little Mermaid, Alice in Wonderland, etc. The bedtime stories included not only Western fairy tales (Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy tales, Grimm’s Fairy tales, and such) but a mix of different stories from different cultures. I remember the stories of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, the lamp of Aladdin from The Thousand and One Nights, Momotaro from Japa­ nese folklore, and also the ancient Chinese myths. The latter included stories of 盘古 Pan Gu, the creator of the universe in Chinese mythology; 夸父 Kua Fu who chased the sun

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and drank several rivers to the last drop; 嫦娥 Chang’e, the goddess in the moon; 木兰 Mulan, the daughter who fought in battles for her country instead of her old father; and 马 良 Ma Liang, who helped poor people with an incredible writing brush that whatever he drew became reality. All these colorful stories built a fascinating world in my childhood and filled it with nights of wonder and imagination. The following morning in kindergarten, there would be a short period of time that I would stand in front of the class and narrate the story told by my mom the previous night to all my school mates and teachers. I was called by my friends 童话大王 “the queen of fairytales.” It was at that time that I recognized that I was good at telling stories. I remem­ bered the stories by the images that were formed simultaneously during my mom’s narra­ tion. I would narrate them to others using descriptive words and nice transitions, moving on to the next when I finished the description of each image. This experience in my childhood probably laid the foundation for my descriptive and evocative writing styles in writing diaries, short fictions, reports, and all the other types of writing which related to the narrative genre. One feature that is interesting to mention is that, at that time, a mix of multicultural images formed in my mind from those stories. I couldn’t identify which character in the story was from my culture and which one belonged to the so-called “Western culture.” When I was five, on the day of Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, my mom told me the story of Chang’e and mentioned that this beautiful young lady was now still living on the moon. Then I became so curious about her that when night fell, I climbed onto the window and looked directly into the moon. There were only dark shadows on it under the moonlight, but I thought it was her. I kept looking at the dark shadows and began to form an image of her. She was in a long dress, the dress like the one that Cinderella wears when she goes to the ball. And she was wearing a crown that made her look like the Sleeping Beauty. Chang’e, in my eye, looked like a princess, one of many I once saw in my story books. She was not the only one whose identity I mixed up. Asian cultures and Western culture, in my eyes, were one as a whole. I didn’t recognize myself as any different from those in West­ ern culture. In the magical world of my childhood, although I spoke Chinese at home, I showed the same intimacy toward other cultures. This fostered my growing interest in learning English afterward. When I found out later that it was English that originally wove those fascinating fairy tales with which I grew up (though they might have been originally written in other European languages), I began longing for more acquaintance with that language. But that is a story that followed much later.

L1 literacy development in school 一去二三里,

Once upon a time, we walked leisurely for two or three miles; 烟村四五家,

On the way, we saw four or five villages; 亭台六七座,

Six or seven temples and 八九十枝花.

Eight, nine or ten branches of flowers.

(Yong, 2013)1

Writing with a Chinese heart


This is a poem from the ancient poet Shao Yong /邵雍 (AD 1011–1077), which I recited in my early years of elementary school, picturing a peaceful countryside scattered with small villages and pavilions (亭台, a place for saying good-bye in ancient times) with several flow­ ers tossing their heads in the wind. Every morning, the teacher assembled us in class to do a traditional activity, 晨读 morning reading. Each morning, I read an ancient poem suitable for an elementary school student like me. The poem above was the most impressive one among them all. Not only in school but in Chinese families, parents usually include famous ancient poems in their child’s early-literacy education. Before I went to elementary school, I could recite approximately 20–30 poems from 唐诗三百首 (Collection of Three Hundred Classic Ancient Poems of Tang Dynasty). One of my best friends, whose parents attached a lot of importance to her early education, made her recite the whole book! A child is also exposed to many other poem-form Chinese ancient classics such as 三字经 Three-Character Scripture, 百家姓 The Book of Family Names, and 宋词 Song Lyrics. Perhaps because of this type of early-literacy exposure, as a six-year-old child, my first piece of writing was not a journal, a diary, or several descriptive/narrative sentences of an event. It was a little poem. Now though two decades have passed, I can still remember the poem word by word. It was a poem dedicated to my mom to celebrate her birthday. On a small piece of paper, I wrote in my amateur handwriting, with the last line in 拼音 pin yin (the Chinese sound mark) as I didn’t know the Chinese characters at that age (the translation is mine): 我爱妈妈,妈妈爱我。

I love my mom, and my mom loves me. 妈妈是太阳,我是小花。

My mom is like the sun and I am like the flower, 我在妈妈的 zhao yao 下 zhuo zhuang 成长。 Who is growing up happily and healthily under her sunshine. Corresponding with this style of early-literacy education, researchers affirm the learn­ ing possibilities art (including songs and poems) presents for teaching young children. They urge teachers to “reinforce the value of the arts already being used in early child­ hood classrooms and to promote literacy development and learning through the arts in an integrated fashion, valuing multiple intelligences and learning styles” (Souto-Manning & James, 2008, p. 82). The publication by these authors proves the power and effectiveness of arts education and encourages teachers to continue to experiment with involving arts resources and activities in teaching. In addition, despite the exposure of ancient poems and other early-literacy level clas­ sics, after I gained the basic knowledge of how to write in Chinese characters, the Chinese teachers asked us to keep a diary and write a sentence every day. I really loved this home­ work and enjoyed the process very much. The journal was regarded as my private space where I could scatter my seeds of thought and develop meanings through texts to express my feelings. I remembered I wrote about my dreams, the weather, things I liked to do, and happy moments with my family and friends. Later on, I began to develop rhetorical devices in my journals by using simile, metaphor, and parallels. Influenced by my preschool literacy education and my obsession with fairy tales, mythologies, and legends, my writing style became quite emotional and metaphorical. I don’t like direct prosaic sentences but instead use metaphors and elaborative descriptions

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to express my thoughts. I remember that once I wrote about a beggar whom I encountered on the street in a cold winter. In the composition, I used many emotional words to describe the pathetic conditions of the homeless man, such as the hopelessness in his eyes, his rough hands and ragged clothes, and his trembling voice because of the chilling air. And then I switched to describe the merciless attitude of the people passing by. Finally, I expressed my feelings toward this scene by using strong parallels to criticize this social vice, to try to arouse the reader’s conscience and call for endeavors to build our society into a better place. During the years of my elementary school study, this kind of expressive writing style and skilled language use was greatly appreciated by my teacher, which made me believe that writing is all about feelings and emotions, elaborative descriptions, and surface decoration. With this confidence, I went to middle school. At that period of time, I became help­ lessly enamored with ancient Chinese literature. I had grown up with my grandparents who attached great importance to literature reading. My grandfather, who was born in the 1930s and retired from a middle school as a respected teacher, has a grand collection of ancient Chinese literature and philosophy. I remember that when I was age nine, he gave me a book named 中国古代经典集萃 The Most Classic Selection of Ancient Chinese Litera­ ture. He opened the book and showed me an article that he recommended, 桃花源记 The Land of Peach Blossoms, written by a hermit living in a time nearly two thousand years ago. Texts written in ancient Chinese are difficult to understand, but it seemed easy for me to grasp the emotion floating over the words. I felt that the texts communicated with a deep, resonating voice that conveyed a sacred and mysterious feeling even if you couldn’t decode the message. One thing that is worth mentioning is that Chinese features many phrases, compound words, and formulaic expressions with added extended meanings derived from historical incidents, personages, or previous literary works. A grasp of such historical or classic 典故 “allusion” naturally makes the understanding of the reading much easier. For example, such allusions include the following: 明修栈道,暗渡陈仓 Openly Repairing the Plank Road While Sneaking Round to Chencang 秦镜高悬 The Mirror of Qin Huang on High 四面楚歌 Songs of Chu on All Sides 一诺千金 One Promise Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold 强弩之末 An Arrow at the End of Its Flight 家徒四壁 Only the Four Bare Walls By the same token, when writing Chinese prose or poetry, the apt use of such 典故 does much to embellish the work. Gradually, I read more and more ancient Chinese mythology and also the traditional Chinese poetry. Gradually, I began to adopt this technique by embedding 典 故 into my own writing. This made my writing even more distinguishable among my peers. Here I attach a piece of paragraph I wrote at that time, which manifests the above features: 秋到。 无边落木, 潇潇暮雨。秋是寂寥的, 人生路上也会遭遇同样的孤独惆怅 :天涯羁旅,仕途失意,文期酒会,聚散无常......心灵,毫无准备地在浩荡哀愁面前 变得不知所措, 只好默默临风洒泪, 对月长吁。 但秋又是壮阔豪放的, 轻轻擦干 心灵的泪眼,便可看到“晴空一鹤排云上” 的乐观豁达,感受到那 “菊残犹有傲霜 枝”的清风傲骨。 让心灵适当地遭遇些零落与忧愁吧, 让心灵在眼泪中学着如何 勇敢坚强。

Writing with a Chinese heart


The paragraph is excerpted from a piece of writing in a genre called 散文 sanwen (scattered writing), which is prevalent in the Chinese writing classroom. The main theme of this paragraph is expressing one’s insights into life. In this paragraph, I used autumn as a meta­ phor to picture a certain negative stage of life accompanied by obstacles, frustrated experi­ ences, sorrows, melancholies, and anguish. Life, in this stage, is like a blossom withering away, but still there is hope to raise people up. For this reason, there is no reason not to be brave and move on. To express this view, I embraced many themes, phrases, and verses (underlined) to enrich my language and elaborate my thoughts. At that period of time, almost all my writings were composed in this way. Weaving ancient and modern Chinese together in the text, I expressed my feelings and thought by adopting symbols from ancient poems instead of explicating them by using my own words. In addition, the texts were all about emotions, feelings, and descriptions. The more complex and indirect the expression adopted, the more successful the writing was considered to be. It was during my reading of You’s book, Writing in the Devil’s Tongue (2010), that I rede­ fined my perception of my own writing style from a broader angle. I came to realize that my emotional, descriptive, and elaborative style of writing wasn’t part of my desired voice but an imposition from traditional social, political, institutional factors. I realized that one genre was taking a dominant role in the writing classes in which I wrote most my essays. This genre was 散文. You argues that this genre “was a pedagogical favorite because its unrestrained form gave students a sense freedom that was unavailable in the old civil exam essays or in any of the Western modes of discourse” (You, 2010, p. 113). The 散文 gets its name as scattered writing from its free-style form and encourages writers to conduct writing with creativity under diverse topics. However, “despite the topical, structural, and stylistic liberty, the essay should maintain a spirit (shen 神) or a focused theme, which uni­ fies the seemingly scattered thoughts and form” (You, 2010, p. 113). Because I was so used to writing in this way and in this genre, I encountered certain rhetorical conflicts when I began learning to write English.

L2 literacy development in school I started learning English at the age of eight. As I mentioned in the first section, having grown up with Western fairy tales, legends, and mythologies, I viewed English as an invis­ ible companion, veiling itself behind those fancy stories. With a great passion, I started learning English. And after several years of learning and practicing, I was able to handle the basic listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. During my time as a middle school student, besides Chinese literature reading, I also began reading abridged editions of Western classics in English. There is a series of books popular in Chinese bookstores called The Book Worm, which includes many Western classics edited in relatively simple English. I remember having read Little Women, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Les Miserables, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Count of Monte Cristo from this series. My focus was on the way the author narrated the scenes and shaped the characters. Reading English helped me to gradually write in English. Despite the task-based writ­ ing exercises in middle school English class, I didn’t develop a concrete concept of what English writing was. At that time, English writing to me was a code-switching process. I sat in front of my desk, grabbed a pen, thought in Chinese, and then wrote down in English. Sometimes I got troubled by the mismatch between the message conveyed in

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English words and my original intention. But I continued with my writing style in English even though sometimes a disconnect between words and thoughts was evident. Another issue of my English writing made me quite bewildered at that time. In the task-based writing practice (usually the task is about describing the picture shown on the sheet or to narrate a sequence of pictures according to student’s understanding), I found that the more creatively I wrote, the lower scores I got. During composition, I tried to construct many novel phrases and expressions in order to make my thought expressive. However, this kind of creative usage of English was treated as deficient by my Chinese teachers of English. Then I began to follow the writing pattern of my fellow students and imitated the samples or memorized certain structures and sentences. These were rewarded better by my teachers. I now realize that the pedagogy widely adopted in my middle school was a product-oriented approach. It is still practiced in many Chinese universities. You (2004) has provided a detailed description of how the product-oriented approach was implemented. And it is true that many educational institutions in China I studied in still organize their writing instruction this way. To be specific, writing instruction is based on a teacher-centered lecture on rhetorical methods, grammar rules, writing format and language skills. The teacher usually provides students with a sample of writing, analyzes it according to the aspects mentioned above, and then assigns a writing task to imitate the piece of writing according to the analysis demonstrated to them. The whole writing class was conducted solely under the teacher’s requirements, leaving almost no space for students to adopt their free and creative writing style. The situation continued through my first two years of college academic life until I took a writing course and was introduced to the professional training of English academic writing. The writing instruction above results from Chinese scholars adopting, integrating, and localizing Western writing pedagogies into the Chinese context. Since 1990, nearly a dec­ ade after China’s implementation of the “Open Door” policy, English teaching has been attached an increasing importance by the government to meet national needs for socio­ economic development and political status. The period between 1990 to the present is a dynamic innovation period of teaching English writing. Influenced by imported Western theories or, maybe more specifically, the Anglo-American theories in applied linguistics and composition, Chinese English teachers and linguistic researchers contributed greatly to developing an internalized, systematic English writing pedagogy suitable for the Chi­ nese context. According to You, “Apparently, Chinese scholars borrowed these topics from American composition studies and ESL writing and used them as parameters to examine English composition in the Chinese context” (You, 2012, p. 265). The practice in writing classrooms reveals an exploratory interaction with Western writing paradigms and rhetori­ cal traditions and an intention to fuse the Chinese-style English writing into Western aca­ demic culture in order to develop an international voice. The product-oriented approach, with its features of emphasizing the language “form,” perhaps is also a solution for largesize English classes and institutional pressure for passing English exams such as CET-4 and CET-6. It is a compromise of integrating Western writing pedagogies and unique Chinese English teaching situations. Graduating from high school, I went to Beijing Language and Culture University for my undergraduate study and majored in English Language and Literature. This happened in the year of 2008, and it is also the year when I said “Good-bye” to my Chinese writ­ ing and began a new journey of English writing. The curriculum was divided into three

Writing with a Chinese heart


parts focusing on different areas of English study: literature, translation, and linguistics. In literature class, students were asked to study the important phases in Western literary his­ tory and were assigned to read and analyze excerpts from both British and American clas­ sics. In translation courses (divided into two training orientations, written translation and interpretation), I was introduced to the main approaches of English-Chinese and ChineseEnglish translation from various genres of texts and oral materials. We only had one course of linguistics, an introduction course addressing issues of basic linguistic knowledge, the main schools of linguistics, and emerging issues in the field of linguistics worldwide. I now marvel at how greatly college life has impacted my literary development. The lit­ erature class triggered my enthusiasm toward reading authentic classics (not their abridged or simplified versions). I still remember how enjoyable it was when I was reading the complete version of great English works from my childhood. And when I realized I had acquired the language proficiency level to understand more complex English texts, the sweet memories of my childhood were aroused again. I enjoyed the time when I wandered into the school library, reading or searching for the books in literature from all periods of times, with noble thoughts and intriguing stories. I kept my reading habit throughout my college life and ben­ efited a lot from it. My English began to be more polished and appeared to be more authentic in reflecting my voice. I no longer wrote creatively as I did in my high school but wrote with a much more complex negotiation of words and ideas. Step by step, through the rich read­ ing life and consistent language practice and training, the novice and amateur character of my English writing began to fade away. My prose appeared to be more polished and mature, with more exploration of ideas and deeper thoughts. I made myself believe that the more I read, the better I could express my inner self and engage with the world. When I was a sophomore, the department opened a new course for English students: Academic English Writing. This was the first time I was exposed to the five-paragraph academic writing paradigm. I have to admit that when I first encountered this pattern, it was totally new and even exotic to me. The reason was probably because I didn’t expect that there could be so many conventions concerning English academic writing, such as where to put the thesis statement, how to write a paragraph that starts with a topic sen­ tence and supporting evidence, and how to make each paragraph form a coherent, wellorganized essay. I was a bit resistant to the five-paragraph paradigm at first. There was a naïve thought lingering in my head, saying, “I don’t want to be restricted to these writing rules. I just want to write in my own way.” But this thought vanished when I realized how much value was being attached to it. I realized how important it was to demonstrate a stance and convey an opinion logically and effectively to the related audience. When my attitude toward the Western writing pattern got adjusted, it was the time that my journey of academic writing got truly started. I found this writing paradigm pretty concise and effective, especially helping the writer to shape and develop thoughts, as well as organize the structure of the whole essay. The pedagogy the teacher adopted was mainly process-oriented. The writing process was mainly divided into four stages: prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing. These four stages of writing enabled myself and my peers to explore our thoughts. It motivated us to more rigorous writing. My thinking became focused, and I began to learn to write in a precise and sharpened way. I was quite pleased to see the progress I had made. Finally, I no longer could write only in an expressive way but could also adopt a clear logic and concise language.

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It was at this stage that I encountered the contrastive rhetoric perspective. Contrastive rhetoric holds that different cultures have different rhetorical preferences for the organization of writ­ ten text . . . Contrastive rhetoric preferences not only shape written text in distinct languages and cultures, but tend to manifest themselves consistently, if subtly, in the writing of students learning a second language. (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996, p. 197) I remembered when I was a sophomore, I had an American English writing tutor who met me once a week to review the English essays that I had written. Among them there was one paragraph with an opening sentence like this, “Crystal-clear is that contemporary society is functioning in a competitive mold where every participant spares no effort to obtain success.” My tutor, with a bewildered face, asked me a question that I didn’t expect, “What do you want to say? I can’t understand the sentence.” Then I said, “I mean, it is clear that modern society is very competitive and everyone tries his best to be successful.” Then she said, “Then why don’t you write like that?” Although many years have passed since then, her words still linger in my head. She went on to say: “Eva, break down your long sentences into short ones.” “Try to write simple and smart sentences.” “Eva, when you make a statement, give me evidence to support it, make it convincing, or it will be sound subjective.” At that time, I had no idea about the nature of English academic writing and could not understand why I was being asked to write like this. But I learned, tried, and practiced to achieve the expected goal.

Conclusion I think these conflicts arose from the different literacy education I had received and also the different cultural backgrounds and thinking patterns I was used to. I noticed that in Western writing conventions, writers put forward the thesis statement in a straightforward way and summarized their opinions frequently in the middle of the writing in order to help the reader keep up with their thoughts. They avoided any digression to prevent any misunderstanding from the reader’s side. I can see how this style is different from Chi­ nese writing. The writer communicates in an indirect way; the meaning is intertwined and enables multiple interpretations from it. The writer expects the reader to explore the meaning on their own and to raise as many interpretations as possible. The more profound the implications, the better the writing is considered to be. On the contrary, the direct way of expression encouraged by my teacher may be considered superficial. Over time, I became somewhat “homesick.” I missed my expressive Chinese writing. I began looking for Chinese-English translated version of books written in 散文, my most favorite genre. I looked for translated ancient Chinese poems and tried to translate others into English on my own. Following is a piece of “Song Lyrics” that I like very much. This is an ancient song that children know by memory and love reciting. I have provided my own translation: The rain ripples beyond the curtain; 帘外雨潺潺, Spring is waning. 春意阑珊。

Writing with a Chinese heart


My quilt is not warm enough to resist the chill of the deep night. 罗衾不耐五更寒。 Forgetting I am in exile, 梦里不知身是客, In my dream I indulged in pleasure. 一晌贪欢。 Don’t lean on balustrades all alone, 独自莫凭阑, And look at the boundless territory which is fading! 无限江山。 It is easy to depart but hard to meet again. 别时容易见时难。 The flowing river brings away the fallen floral petals. 流水落花春去也, So has the beautiful moment of yesterday. 天上人间。 Gradually, I began to compose my ideas in English and tried to merge the words with the beauty of Chinese. In my appreciation of my understanding of Chinese poems, literary works, and ancient Chinese philosophy in English, I began to codemesh. This is the type of writing style I wish to accomplish in the future. It needs a lot of practice. It also needs more solid English proficiency as well as Chinese writing skills to enable me to integrate both components. I would like to adopt English writing norms but with Chinese char­ acteristics. I like to do this not only for myself but to provide examples for others, as this increasingly globalized world needs a hybrid voice like that. For in my opinion, globaliza­ tion is about “the various ways that Western and Chinese culture engaged with each other” (You, 2010, p. 175). English is gradually becoming “our” tongue in which the rich history of Chinese and English are merged, coming to form a new voice, a result of the interaction of each other. I would like to write English with my Chinese heart.

Note 1 The translation is anonymous and found at the following website: html

References Grabe,W., & Kaplan, R. B. (1996). Theory and practice of writing. London: Longman.

Rao, R. (1938). Kanthapura. London: George Allen & Unwin.

Souto-Manning, M., & James, N. (2008). A multi-arts approach to early literacy and learning. Journal of

Research in Childhood Education, 23(1), 82–95. Yong, S. (2013). Yi Chuan Ji Rang Ji. Beijing: Zhong Hua Book Company. You, X.Y. (2004).The choice made from no choice: English writing instruction in a Chinese University. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13(2), 97–110. You, X. Y. (2010). Writing in the devil’s tongue: A history of English composition in China. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. You, X. Y. (2012). Towards English writing research with Chinese characteristics. Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics, 35(3), 263–270.



The story of my literacy Jialei Jiang

My literacy development revolves around the awareness of image in the shaping of ideas. The correlation between language and image aligns with the construction of abstract con­ cepts in the learner’s mind. In this sense, image itself can be construed as a spectrum encompassing three levels of abstraction, i.e., images, imagery, and imagination, which demonstrates how learners of writing evolve from being viewers of pictures to being think­ ers of metaphors, and then from thinking in metaphors to being creators of metaphors. On the surface, images are mental pictures that we generate in our minds to represent per­ ceptual experiences (Kossyln, 1980). At a deeper level, imagery denotes the imaginative mechanism of reason that we employ to make sense of our experiences (Lakoff, 1990). Looming behind images and imagery, imagination is defined as the mental faculty that produces images and imagery (Thomas, 1999). Through this lens, I will submit that imagi­ nation could be interpreted as the locomotive that promotes the agentive use of images and imagery, through which process writers create and generate words in their composition. In my understanding, literacy is not so much built upon blocks of words as it is closely tied up with pictures, imagery, imagination, and so on. Complementary to language itself, images serve as a concrete representation of thought in our minds. Both images and words are methods of constructing a storyline, through which the “dreamer” or writer takes on the role of the storyteller. In addition, mental images, as well as conceptual metaphors that produce mental images, represent a transition from sense perceptions to abstract notions. According to Lakoff and Johnson (1999), if it had not been for conceptual metaphors, abstract human thought would have been impossible. Moreover, the construction of men­ tal images depends on the sensorimotor system, which constitutes part of the conceptual system in our brain. Therefore, images, rather than being understood as simply related to human senses or the sensual apparatus, take on a new dimension to generate ideas and facilitate abstraction.

The first stage The first stage of my literacy development was accomplished with images, i.e., pictures inserted in reading or writing texts. My early-literacy experience coincides with the

Image and learning


scholarly understanding of literacy development in early child education. A majority of child learners tend to construct images before they learn how to read and write (Brudnak, 1995; Olshansky, 2008). I was born into a family of “science.” With my father and mother getting their Bachelors of Science degrees in chemistry and automation engineering, respectively, I do not consider family to be a great influence on my literacy development. My parents’ professions did not require a lot of reading, especially as far as art and literature are concerned. Nevertheless, my parents did contribute to my development as a first lan­ guage reader and writer in Chinese. My parents used to read children’s books to me when I was in my childhood. The vivid memories of listening to Aesop’s Fables, accompanied with cartoon illustrations, are stamped on my mind without getting shrouded by the haze of growth. For example, in Aesop’s story “The Farmer and the Snake,” there were concrete pictures demonstrating how in a cold winter a kind-looking farmer restored life to a snake by warming it up with his body temperature, only to be bitten to death by the snake after the latter regained its strength. Ignorant as I was of the underlying symbols behind these simple characters, the vivid images themselves contributed to the process through which I grasped the meaning of the story and kept it stored in my mind. Thus, I realized that literacy development is not merely concerned with words (sym­ bols), but also with meaning (information). Language and other symbolic knowledge jointly formulate the mediating device through which language learners become social­ ized into the target culture (Vygotsky, 1978). Through this lens, Olshansky (2008) believes that words and images are two complementary languages that collaboratively assist in enhancing learners’ acquisition of new knowledge. Based upon this belief, learn­ ers process visual information from whole to part and linguistic information from part to whole. Or in other words, going back to the story, I was able to understand its meaning holistically with the help of pictures before being capable of grasping the details conveyed through language.

The second stage The second stage of my literacy development can be traced back to when I started to deci­ pher images and transform them into words. It was during elementary school that I began to associate image with literacy development, although at that time images were presented in their most concrete forms. Through reading cartoon books and drawing birthday cards, I was gradually attracted to the art of reading and writing. For example, using personal words, I was able to share with my classmates the plot of cartoon books. I took delight in writing birthday cards to friends, decorating them with pictures painted by myself. This new phase of putting mental pictures into words culminated in a time when I found myself possessing the potential to tell stories. My storytelling experience can be illustrated through a writing competition in Beijing that I entered as an elementary student. The first round of the competition asked students to write a narrative story based upon two pictures in a sequential order. The contrast between the two images lured me into the wonderland of imagination. What really counted were not the images themselves but the mental pic­ tures generated to fill up the vacuum in between. Hence, with a series of new images in my mind, I did not find it hard to spin a yarn while still observing the conventional form of composition, namely, the beginning, the development, the transformation, and the coda. Unfortunately, I was not able to succeed in the next round of the competition because the prompt of the next round was changed from pictures into words. Suddenly I felt at a loss

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since I no longer had any image to hold on to for the construction of a storyline. As can be seen, image or pictures played an important role in my literacy development. It was not until middle school that I was formally exposed to writing as a combination of language and image. In my Chinese class, writing assignments were given regularly by the teacher, many of which could be subsumed under the genres of short stories, prose and essays. Instead of considering these assignments to be weekly routines, I was immersed in the pleasure of expressing my feelings and beliefs. On the other hand, I felt disillusioned by the traditional language education in middle school. Since the language training was generally test-based, most of the time the teacher merely imposed literary images and their meanings upon students’ minds, instead of stimulating students’ interests in discovering the meanings on an individual basis and reflecting on the metaphorical thought embod­ ied in the images. The tests entail a prototypical connection between images and mean­ ings. Although the literacy training did not exclude the explanation of image through the teacher’s narration and illustration, students were deprived of the opportunity to undergo the thought process and unravel the “mysteries” behind images on their own. In this way, the training still turned out to be imageless in the sense that there were only vague connec­ tions between the images and reasoning in the students’ minds. By contrast, metaphorical thinking entails an interaction between the input and the output, between the raw mate­ rial of mental pictures and the refining process of abstract conceptualization. That is to say, concrete images are intelligible to students through a self-propelled mental process of abstraction. For instance, I found it hard to understand the meaning of some Chinese poems, even after having been asked by the teacher to recite them from memory. For example, one line in the distinguished Chinese poet Li Po’s poem “Drinking Alone by Moonlight” was translated by Arthur Waley (1919) as “raising my cup I beckon the bright moon, for he, with my shadow, will make three men” (p. 15). I had trouble in rationalizing how the moon and the shadow are able to constitute the “three men.” In fact, the poet Li Po wrote this poem inebriated, therefore producing the romantic and intoxicated illusion of drinking with the moon and his shadow. In consequence, my limited understanding led to muddled recalling. It was usually the case that when originally trying to recite one poem, I intertwined sentences from two or more poems simply because of their counterpoints in prosodic patterns and musical features, without having a true understanding of the mean­ ing development threading through the poem. The significance is that only after students actively go through the metaphorical thinking process, conflating meaning with images, can they have a better understanding and recollection of images. Since my senior year in elementary school, I have been learning English as a foreign language. One of the major problems that I have encountered is the cultural difference between Chinese- and English-speaking countries. One can understand the negative transfer of my native language to the target language because of a difference in culturally embedded thinking patterns, which also has implications for composition. For example, as compared to the linearity of occidental writing, oriental writing is characterized by its cir­ cularity. However, under the context of globalization, Canagarajah (2002) argues against exaggerating cross-cultural differences, and places emphasis on intercultural negotiation. This explains why the organization of my essays in English is jointly influenced by my cir­ cular thinking pattern in Chinese on the one hand and linear thinking schema in English on the other. Although the multiplicity of cultural identities in writing incorporate the

Image and learning


two ways of reasoning, cultural difference to some extent explains the attrition of literary images during the process of translation from one language into another. For example, Ezra Pound translated some ancient Chinese poems into English, especially those written by Li Po. Although most of the time Pound remained faithful to the original meanings of Li Po’s poems, there are situations where Pound moved away from the literal representation of certain Chinese idioms. Being an imagist, he could not create new images other than those presented in idiomatic expressions. If he had translated in a semantic and literal man­ ner, it would have been redundant due to the intricacy of idiomatic images; while if he had translated in a phonetic and logical fashion, it would have depleted the images inherent in the original lines. For instance, in “The River- Merchant’s Wife: A Letter,” there are two lines that are translated by Pound (1915) as “Forever and forever, and forever. Why should I climb the lookout?” (p. 11). However, Pound fails to translate the first line in conjunc­ tion with the metaphor used in the original text. Actually, in the first line there is a phrase called “Bao Zhu Xin” that draws allusion to an ancient story written by Zhuangzi, demon­ strating that the deepest love for one’s husband is carried through promising to die for the person. Although Pound’s translation is appropriate in terms of cross-cultural comparison, it is worth noting that this translation has its limitations due to Pound’s attachment to the Western tradition. His cross-cultural translation fails to include the specific images of the poem and drastically changes its meanings in the process. Because of his missing represen­ tation of certain mental pictures, there is therefore a lack of focus on cultural implications in the poem. By the same token, for second language learners, there are linguistic obstacles against switching between two different languages to convey conjoined meanings and to conjure up corresponding images, that make meanings salient and intelligible to the reader. For instance, when writing in English, I often find it difficult to search for the “right word” to describe a concept that otherwise may be easily put into words in Chinese. Hence, the lan­ guage gap between Chinese and English is not simply related to language per se but is also tied up with different uses of imagery between the East and the West. In addition, Lakoff and Johnson (1999) hold the opinion that the metaphorical model of the mind places con­ straints on the possibilities of cultural knowledge that can be generated. The reciprocity between images and cultures is analogous to stained glass windows that reflect the diverse worldviews of learners from different cultural backgrounds. Nevertheless, cultural differences can also be conducive to second language learning under certain circumstances. Based upon the semantic theories of Ogden and Richards (2001), language is a semiotic system arbitrarily conflating the symbol with the refer­ ent, and the variances between different languages are not synonymous with differences between modes of thinking. In my case, the transfer of meaning from one linguistic system into another was not so much the crossing of boundaries between linguistic and visual modes, as the exchange of symbols within the same symbolic system. For instance, during my French learning in college, the curriculum for instruction placed special emphasis on grammar and highlighted a comparison between English and French lan­ guage use. In effect, my grammatical knowledge of English helped me to learn French better. While sometimes cultural difference stands in the way, generating connotations that are unique to a distinctive cultural background, the study of a second language encour­ ages students to take the initiative in consciously reflecting upon cultural and linguistic

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diversities. It is because the acquisition of first language is generally derived from implicit internalization driven by the cultural unconscious. In contrast, second language learn­ ing can be considered as mainly meaning-based and developed in a more conscious way. As Canagarajah (2002) has it, “Teachers must keep in mind that no one needs to be held hostage by language or culture; students can be taught to negotiate conflicting rhetorical structures to their advantage” (p. 68). Thus, rather than being a curse, the cultural gaps between the target language country and the learner’s native country could be a blessing for students if they actively incorporate such a reflection into their learning.

The third stage My practice of using imagination to create imagery signals the third stage in my literacy development. Since middle school, I have gradually gained conscious awareness of imagery and the effects it has on the mind of the reader. As a creator of imagery, I was particularly interested in writing poems, most of which were created during my middle school years. Although I was an amateur in creative writing, imagery lay at the heart of my poems. In addition, imagery is open to various interpretations by the reader. As pointed out by Kenneth Burke, “Half the action takes place among the audience” (as cited in New­ stok, 2007, p. xxxiii). Sometimes one image is able to trigger multiple interpretations in the audience. Thus, the writing of poems not only stimulates my own imagination but also that of the reader. A case in point is a poem I composed in high school. The poem elaborated on how a poet got haunted by a circular shadow that eventually killed him. The image of the shadow may be construed differently, depending upon the diverse per­ spectives of the audience. For example, some people might consider the shadow to be a concrete object, such as the muzzle of a gun, the shadow of the moon, or the glance of a snake, based on its shape and function. Others might see the shadow in a more abstract fashion, interpreting it as symbolic of lust, enrapture, or addiction due to the poet’s astonishing obsession with it leading to his demise. Through the process of generating images in the mind of the reader, I gradually found myself taking on the role of a creator of images and imagery. When I first embarked on the journey to be a creative writer, however, I had not antici­ pated that one day I would be able to write poems in other languages. It was during college that I started to be immersed in the pleasure of writing poems in English. From the begin­ ning of my second language poetry composition, I was fully aware of the impediments and obstacles on the way. With their unique prosodic features, English poems are quite different from Chinese ones. My knowledge about English poems was acquired mainly through reading poems and reviews about poems. Admitting that I felt my poems were never good enough, I should not deny that my desire to write these poems could not easily be quenched. After coming to Penn State, I audited an English poetry class that concen­ trated on modernist poems. In addition to reading poems, students were assigned to read and write poetry reviews. Through reading poems by T. S. Eliot, Pound, W. B. Yeats, and many others, I analyzed the distinctive images in those poems, although oftentimes I ran into the obstacles of acquiring new vocabulary needed to comprehend complex meanings. It was through reading and reflecting that I took the initiative in overcoming language barriers and gaining an active role in the contemplation of images. Meanwhile, I continued to create new images through writing.

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My poetic composition in English was never as intuitive as when I wrote poems in my native language. However, I always tried to find ways to tackle this problem. Deductively brainstorming for images is a method I found useful, as can be seen in the poem “Noise”: Noise A strange harmony, made up of wrong keys, and played by a demented musician. An ebony cobweb of intertwined emotions. Whirling around with this ungainly dancer, into a maelstrom of fragmented memories, and falling headlong against the damp ground of a drizzly world, where another droplet of thought splattered on my face, and blurred my eyes. During the writing of “Noise,” I was drawn to the deductive method of brainstorming images. First, I wrote down images that were generated in my mind about noise. Images conjured up in my mind were presented in an incremental order from a lower-level abstrac­ tion to a higher-level one – the dancer, the rain, the dissonance, emotions, memories, thought, etc. Then, I gradually constructed logical connections between those images in writing the first draft of the poem. After that, I went through a deconstructing process to problematize the draft. I asked questions to myself: Are there any images not in coherence with others? How could I use those images to speak to the notion of noise? Intriguingly, through this process of deconstruction, I moved back from a creator of images to a viewer of images. While examining the features of each image created by myself, I deleted some images and added other images to reconstruct the poem into an organic unity. Thus, it is manifest to me that the technique of composition is also characterized by the metaphorical thought of images. Since college, I had begun to explore writing translingual poems in both English and Chinese. It proved to be a more challenging task for me, because of my limited linguistic and lexical knowledge. Nevertheless, starting with creating images themselves, I gradually found my way out of this difficulty. The following is part of a translingual poem I com­ posed when I was in college: Dreampublic Plato looked up high and sighed, one foot on the ground the other in the sky. All that we saw were but a world of silhouettes, the laughter and tears of marionettes. Debris of memories, substance of existence. All that we built were but blocks of bivouacs, with prudes lining up to be maniacs. Divine music faraway mimicked ringtones,

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All that we heard were but echoes of reality,

was it the real life or was it just fantasy?

My method for writing this poem was more idiosyncratic as compared to the deductive method. I used an English dictionary to randomly search for words or phrases appealing to me. After that, I transformed those words or phrases into images and built connec­ tions between those images. The toughest part was to construct relationships based upon the topic I had chosen beforehand – Zhou Gong (Zhuangzi)’s dream and Plato’s Republic. More specifically, I felt a strong connection between Plato’s cave metaphor, i.e., people are prisoners in a dark cave who can only “see” the projection of the real world on the wall, and the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi’s butterfly metaphor, i.e., the philosopher cannot tell if it is him dreaming of being a butterfly or it is a butterfly dreaming of being him. In my view, this artistic approach takes its shape from the snippets of my scattered mental pictures. It also highlights my tendency to present prospective and retrospective scenes in the here and now. I conflated a collage of cross-cultural figures with a whimsical touch upon history itself. This randomly written poem drives me to continue the reflection upon my role as a second language writer, as I take more joy in creating images. On the other hand, as a creator of images and imagery, I do feel uncertain of my creation after experiencing the tension between languages and cultures. Some metaphorical uses might be bizarre or unconventional in comparison with those commonly deployed in English or Chinese poems. However, this crudeness in composition itself becomes intermingled with the underlying meaning it intends to convey – the dappledness of my linguistic and cultural identities. It therefore constructs my distinctive voice as a second language writer of English.

Conclusion My literacy autobiography centers around the linkage between images and languages. I have undergone the process from being a viewer of images to being a thinker of images and, finally, to being a creator of images. My understanding of images also moves from concreteness to abstraction with the use of metaphorical thought. It is through this process that I gained my literacy not only as a writer in my first language but also as one in my second language. The next step would be for me to adapt what I have experienced as a writer into the teaching of writing. I deem images as good resources in writing instruc­ tion. Although there are plenty of articles on applying metaphorical theories to grammar instruction (Tyler, 2012; Pütz & Sicola, 2010), limited opportunities exist for applying these theories in composition studies and writing practices. In this light, the concept of images, imagery, and imagination has the potential to be a promising topic for further exploration in my future career as a teacher and researcher.

Note 1 Translation of this line:“Was it that Zhou Gong was dreaming of being a butterfly or that a butterfly was dreaming of being Zhou Gong?”The last word in this line “Zhou Gong” rhymes with the last word in the previous line:“ringtones.”

Image and learning


References Brudnak, K. (1995). Reach every student. Learning Magazine, 23(4), 53–56. Canagarajah, A. S. (2002). Critical academic writing and multilingual students. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Kosslyn, S. M. (1980). Image and mind. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Lakoff, G. (1990). Women, fire, and dangerous things. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the flesh. New York: Basic Books.Newstok, S. L. (Ed.). (2007). Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare.Anderson: Parlor Press. Ogden, C., & Richards, I. (2001). The meaning of meaning. London: Routledge. Olshansky, B. (2008). The power of pictures: Creating pathways to literacy through art, grades K-6. San Francisco: Jossey Bass Inc. Pound, E. (Trans.). (1915). Cathay. London: Elkin Matthews. Pütz, M., & Sicola, L. (2010). Cognitive processing in second language acquisition: Inside the learner’s mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Thomas, N. J.T. (1999).Are theories of imagery theories of imagination? An active perception approach to conscious mental content. Cognitive Science, 23, 207–245. Tyler, A. (2012). Cognitive linguistics and second language learning:Theoretical basis and experimental evidence. New York: Routledge. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Waley, A. (1919). More translations from the Chinese. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


THE MERMAID’S IMMORTAL SOUL Myth, disillusionment, and the birth of a translingual identity Randi Anderson

Hooked on the other: of myth and desire The sailors were dancing on deck, but when the prince came out of the cabin, more than a hundred rockets rose in the air, making it as bright as day.The little mermaid was so startled that she dived under water; and when she again stretched out her head, it appeared as if all the stars of heaven were falling around her, she had never seen such fireworks before. – Hans Christian Andersen, “The Little Mermaid”

In Andersen’s beloved fairy tale, the little mermaid is a figure largely characterized by her intense desire for the Other, the human prince for whom she goes through separation, loss, loneliness, and even physical pain in the hopes of achieving unity with him. Her story serves as a great metaphor of what Kramsch (2009) refers to as the human “need for iden­ tification with the Other,” a powerful desire so ingrained in our humanity that it “touches the core of who we are” (p. 14). In our core, what we desire is communion. Henri Nouwen, a prolific Catholic writer of the 20th century, wrote that through reflection on his own “deepest yearning” as well as that of those around him, he came to find that “the word that seems best to summarize the desire of the human heart is ‘communion.’ [. . .] The desire for communion . . . is a God-given desire, a desire that causes immense pain as well as immense joy” (1999, p. 31). Andersen’s mermaid experiences a deep sense of separation from both her ascribed identity as a mermaid and her aspired identification with the Other, and so her unfulfilled desire for communion becomes a specter overshadowing her whole existence until the fateful moment she decides to go to the sea witch for human legs. Kramsch argues that the Other that language learners seek “is an imagined other, an idealized representation, even if this representation is triggered by a flesh-and-blood native speaker” (p. 15). This was certainly the case with me as I came into contact with Brazil­ ian Portuguese. It was a “flesh-and-blood” Brazilian who awakened my imagination and started me on a course of idealization – or mythologization – of the Brazilian Other. Like the mermaid on the night she rescued the prince from the shipwreck, I was bedazzled and enchanted by my first contact with the Other, and my subsequent separation from

The mermaid’s immortal soul


the human representation of that Other sent me fleeing to the sea witch to trade my fins for legs. As I will attempt to show, in this stage of my contact with Portuguese, I was still operating under the assumptions of the monolingual paradigm. Languages were products belonging to distinct communities, often geographically based, and each language came with a distinct identity or culture that had to be somehow acquired if an outsider wanted any chance of communing with members of that group. In order to communicate effec­ tively – in order to make a connection, to be part of the group, to achieve communion – I felt I needed to know the norms and acquire the practices of the Other. I needed to be either fully on “their” ground or fully on “mine” at any given time, using pure forms – even if codeswitched at times – in order to be understood. Such were my unconscious and relatively unchallenged assumptions about language. I say “relatively unchallenged” because despite difficult experiences learning and using languages, I hadn’t really expe­ rienced anything earth-shattering enough to change my perspective. The trouble began when I met João. It happened in my senior year at Penn State, where I was majoring in Comparative Literature and minoring in German. Immersed in the world of German language and lit­ erature, which I had mythologized into a timeless fairyland of noble and passionate ideas nobly and passionately expressed, I was not exactly prepared to welcome a newcomer who was not part of that myth. I met João through a series of events hosted by the Catholic ministry on campus, and rather unlike Andersen’s little mermaid when she first laid eyes on the prince, there was no music nor fireworks, despite what was to come. The characteristi­ cally Other-obsessed part of me was attracted to his accent and aura of foreign-ness, among other things, but Brazil was so far off my radar that I did not immediately leap to embrace him even as we started dating. With my imagination fully occupied with German, I had no intentions of learning Portuguese and therefore viewed this burgeoning romance with a Brazilian with some suspicion. For our first few dates, almost nothing was said about the fact that he spoke Portuguese. Then on a picnic in mid-October, as we sat at a wooden table playing cards, João broke the ice and initiated me into his language with the classic greeting, “Oi. Tudo bem?” The ensuing mini-lesson was the first time I had contact with Brazilian Portuguese on any conscious level. Prior to that I had been aware of the exist­ ence of European Portuguese, but I had never even thought of learning the language, nor could I recognize it except in written form by the presence of the mysterious letter ã. João seemed convinced that I could easily pick up Portuguese, and after he introduced me to oi, tudo bem and the pronoun-copula sets eu sou and você é, he said, “Você é inteligente,” and asked if I knew what that meant. Because the Portuguese sound system is quite different and makes even cognates sometimes difficult to recognize, I didn’t understand inteligente and was rather embarrassed when I found out what it was. What had been intended as a compliment to me became somewhat ironic. Later, on the car ride back to Penn State, I sat trying to memorize eu sou and você é but quickly grew discouraged by my apparent inabil­ ity to pronounce even such a simple word as eu. I wanted to flee back into my safe fantasy world of German. As the fall progressed, however, I began to warm up to Portuguese about at the same pace that I warmed up to João. I had more contact with Brazilian language and culture through Skypeing with João’s family and friends, as well as through initiation into such Brazilian cultural mainstays as forró dancing, of which João was particularly fond and in which, as in pronunciation, I found my abilities rather dubious. In this period, the language

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and culture that had seemed “other” and mildly interesting became both “other” and highly interesting. Now, at last, the little mermaid was beginning to see the fireworks; from there, once she had been dazzled by the face of the Other – her human prince – she was hooked. Perhaps this was her key to the fulfillment for which she had been longing, the “immortal soul” that she had been told she could only gain through marriage with a human being. Now the sea and all its wonders could no longer distract her from her desire to be part of the Other’s world. With a new dream of communion, I could no longer be satisfied with the myths and selves I had constructed, or which had been constructed for me, heretofore. From my position on the outside looking in – this ultra-peripheral identity with an uncertain trajectory – I became more discontented than ever with the limits of my familiar undersea world and the banality of my fins – that is, my ascribed identity. I began to construct a new myth, a new idealized Other, to replace the other myths that had gone before. I projected onto Brazilian language and identity every good thing that, in my own estimation, I was not. To be Brazilian, to speak Brazilian, one had to be carefree, flexible, confident, athletic, open, and warm. To me, João embodied all of these things. I overlooked his complexities and shortcomings and built on top of his living real­ ity a timeless and idealized João that came to be synonymous with Brazilian-ness. (Part of the reason that I have chosen “João” as a pseudonym in the first place is that it is a stereo­ typically Portuguese name, analogous to the English John, German Hans, or Spanish Juan, standing for an unspecified ideal Someone.) And João, deep in the mire of saudades for his home country, did much to encourage such a conception through his glowing endorse­ ment of his own country. I heard all of this and wanted badly to be a part of it. And so, like the mermaid salvaging artifacts of the human world from shipwrecks, I began to collect pieces of Brazil. I collected words, phrases, and tidbits of cultural knowledge with the same kind of savor with which others collect stamps or wines or trophies. On a visit home to my parents, I went to my hometown public library and checked out a set of Pimsleur languagelearning CDs, and in my bedroom I unearthed a sample of various Rosetta Stone courses, one of which was Portuguese. These I started working on in secret, retreating once again into a fantasy world of enchanted language. I reveled in the strange sounds of this new language, nasal and song-like, as they passed through my ears and through my inept mouth striving to master them. I delighted in the physicality of the language and lovingly wrote down every new thing I learned, being especially delighted when I got the chance to write a word containing a til (são or verão), a circumflex accent (você), or a cê-cedilha (dançar). In the joy of infatuation with this new language and its accompanying myth, I began to think that maybe I could someday be both American and Brazilian. Maybe, without los­ ing my American voice, I could gain a Brazilian voice. I thought perhaps I could – with hard work and time – gain full “native-like” competence on human legs as I seemed to already have with mermaid fins. In a sense, I dreamed that I could contain both myths in their fullness within myself and realize them in practice, becoming an amphibious insider in two separate worlds. However, despite the joy and hope of possible communion, and despite trying to con­ vince myself that it was possible to be both American and Brazilian at once, I still had serious doubts. I unconsciously knew that it was unrealistic to expect such a thing, and this repressed awareness grew into a deep, underlying anxiety over the perceived gulf between João and me. I often expressed this anxiety to João, especially early in our relationship, insisting that we were too different and that he shouldn’t bother with me. Where he was

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confident and outgoing, I was insecure and introverted; where he was athletic and funloving, I was uncoordinated and more given to solitary activities like writing or painting; and where he was laid-back and optimistic, I was uptight and anxious. True to form, he was more optimistic about our differences and told me that we were like yin and yang: opposites, but opposites that completed each other. Having studied East Asian languages and literatures early in my college years, I knew the metaphor was appropriate. I was dark, cold, passive yin, while he was bright, warm, active yang. However, it was not communion enough for me to be one of two complements, yin and yang, that completed and reformed each other but still remained somehow distinct. I didn’t want to be yin; I wanted to be him. Eventually the anxiety festered into jealousy. I began to see the Portuguese language as a barrier between João and me, and as much as I loved to hear it and speak it, it was nonetheless a boundary reminding me constantly of what I was not. I remember standing outside his apartment once as I went to visit him and hearing him speak in Portuguese to his parents on Skype. I wanted to understand, to be a part of that exchange, but I was still marked as an outsider. I became jealous of other Brazilians, especially women, who effort­ lessly contained in themselves – their names, their language, their habits – the Brazilian­ ness that I coveted. They had been born with legs and had no need of selling their voices to the sea witch in order to enter the world of the prince. At the same time, I became increas­ ingly more insecure about my ascribed identity as a US American of European descent, and I grew ever more defensive about anything critical João might say about my country or about American-ness in general. I saw myself always before him with my fins, fixed and inescapable markers of my ascribed identity that bound me to his criticism even when I was not intended as the target. The jealousy and the desire to belong became so intense that I was often plagued by the question of whether it was a man or a myth that I loved. Did I desire João or the sense of identity that I believed he could give me? Did I want the prince or the immortal soul? My way of coping with this anxiety, and its resultant jealousy, was to build a veil of secrecy and silence around my study of the Portuguese language. The secrecy of the opera­ tion was of the utmost importance: People were allowed to know in general that I was learning – in fact that was a source of pride – but they absolutely could not catch me in the act or overhear me trying to speak it. I would withdraw somewhere where I could not be heard, plug in my headphones, and speak quietly, if I spoke at all. Interruptions were greeted with sharp anxiety and annoyance. It was, in fact, such a secret operation that I barely shared it with João himself. I had a strong desire to identify with the beloved Oth­ er’s myth-shrouded world, but I was insecure about both my status of peripherality and my desire to transcend it, as if I did not belong in that world and should not presume to belong there. On trips to Washington, DC, and Orlando, FL, sometimes João and I would run into Brazilians. When I was addressed in Portuguese – since those we met always assumed that I, too, was Brazilian – I would stay silent even if I knew how to respond. João would ask me why I hadn’t responded, but I had no answer. My excuse was that I was shy, but it was more than that: I was ashamed to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. It was one thing to study Portuguese privately, but it was another to use the language or pretend even for a moment that I was a Brazilian. It seemed presumptuous for a mermaid to masquerade as a human. I could stay silent and avoid committing to one identity or the other, but as soon as I opened my mouth, I would be telling a lie – and worse, if I said something incorrect, I would be found out for what I really was: a trickster. This was also part of the reason that

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I was secretive about my language studies in front of my family and friends: I was ashamed to be a trickster – a pretender, a liar – deviously trying to develop a new identity that did not belong to me. I felt similar to a child who plays make-believe by herself but quickly hides the fact when she is caught by an adult. Pretending arises from aspiring (or wishing) and makes one vulnerable, leaving one’s aspirations and insecurities open to scrutiny; pre­ tending moreover has no status of legitimacy to defend that vulnerability. Eventually, the more insecure I became, the more I clung to my mythical Other; when the breakup with João came around the time of my graduation, it was devastating. In addition to the usual pain of a breakup, I was left with my dreams of communion with the Other – my dreams of gaining an immortal soul – lying limp at my feet. It seemed that now I would never enter that world and never know for sure what I could have seen and what I could have become. What was the point in going any further? However, like the mermaid of Andersen’s tale, I was not about to resign myself to a fate of seafoam – of nothingness. It was time to go to the sea witch.

Selling my voice: of fins and legs I know what you want,” said the sea witch;“it is very stupid of you, but you shall have your way, and it will bring you to sorrow, my pretty princess.You want to get rid of your fish’s tail, and to have two sup­ ports instead of it, like human beings on earth, so that the young prince may fall in love with you, and that you may have an immortal soul. (Anderson, 1836)

The little mermaid of the fairy tale becomes so desperate to be a part of the human world and to gain an immortal soul that she eventually goes to the sea witch, a repulsive mar­ ginal figure of whom the mermaid had always been afraid before. Having sought guid­ ance from her grandmother – who represents the mainstream of the mermaid’s familiar undersea world – and having had her aspirations for a soul dismissed as trivial, the little mermaid is forced to turn to the world of the marginal and illicit in order to continue on her intended trajectory. The sea witch warns her that the change will be painful: While she will appear graceful to everyone else, secretly she will feel as if she were walking on knives; she will never be able to return to her family in the sea; and if the prince marries another, she will die and turn into seafoam. On top of all this, the price of the magic draught itself is steep: The mermaid must give up her voice. Yet in spite of all these warnings, the little mermaid remains adamant. She gives up her voice and her fins, wakes up on land, and begins a short and bittersweet life of pain, silence, and alienation, even while she spends every day with the prince, her beloved Other. Despite their closeness, winning the heart of the prince – that is, reaching full communion with the Other – remains always just out of her grasp. The mermaid’s attempts to fit in with the human world also serve as a good metaphor for Wenger’s (1998) theories of learning and identity in communities of practice. The mer­ maid enters into the new community of humans and tries to become an insider; as a kind of apprentice to her dear friend the prince, she learns their practices and tries to identify with them through engagement in typical human activities, alignment with the prince in all that he does, and the constant imaginative work she has been doing since before she had

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legs. However, in this case, the mermaid is lamed from the start because of the loss of her voice and can only remain the prince’s “dumb foundling,” someone he can never really consider as a wife – or, in Wenger’s terms, as an insider. She is barred from full membership because her powers of participation have been crippled. In a similar way, I also gave up my voice in order to gain membership in the world of the Other, and it likewise hampered my ability to identify and negotiate with the Other, or my ability to simply belong. Voice, in this metaphor, symbolizes one’s self-confidence, or more precisely, a sense of the dignity or worth of the person one already is. This is a notion that for me, as a Christian, should have been a given. However, I was willing to give it up in pursuit of a mythical self that could commune with a mythical Other. Having gone through the illicit channel of monolingual thinking – which made me believe that I could only belong to one community if I com­ partmentalized it from the others – I felt I had no other choice. I had to sacrifice who I was. And the resulting lack of voice, this lack of a sense of worth, quite appropriately made me silent, as dumb and peripheral as the mermaid. Unlike the little mermaid with her magical transformation, however, gaining the legs that would bring me into the world of the Other was not instantaneous. It occurred in a number of stages, in a succession of overlapping “selves” that I created and that were cre­ ated for me. Self-driven participative constructions of my identity interacted with reifica­ tions from others to form a multitude of selves, which I will call “paper selves,” as all of them were artificial to some degree. Now the Other that I sought was not only a Brazilian Other, still embodied in the memory of João, but also simultaneously a mythical Brazil­ ian “me” that would emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon. The first stage, as mentioned in the previous section, was that of the peripheral pretender, the Brazilian Wannabe. This stage continued throughout the summer of the breakup (and beyond) but also became layered with another self – one repeatedly reified by others – which might be best labeled as the Girl Who Loves Brazil. After the trauma of the breakup, I became determined that, in spite of everything, I was going to keep going and keep pursuing an “inbound” trajec­ tory; somehow, someday, I was going to become part of the Other’s world. So that summer I plodded on with my language CDs. I looped a playlist of Brazilian rock and pop – which I had acquired from João – as an ever-circulating lifeline of positive encouragement. And when the FIFA World Cup in South Africa started, I put myself behind Brazil all the way. I would go to TGI Friday’s, where I worked that summer, to watch their games when I was not on duty. My coworkers and the regulars at the bar were amused by my child­ ish enthusiasm for Brazil, and I became identified as the quirky Brazil-obsessed girl. This reification of my identity was compounded by my friend Francisco from Chile, who filled in the substantial gaps in my knowledge of soccer and told me I was just like a Brazilian garota yelling, “Brazeeewww!” When I went to study for a month at the Goethe-Institut in Munich that fall, I carried that paper self even across the sea. The Portuguese word for paper – papel – also means “role,” and I played my paper-made role with abandon. Surrounded on all sides by German and English, I exclaimed and sang in Portuguese, overplayed the music of Skank and Jota Quest, leaped for joy when I saw caipirinhas being sold at Oktoberfest, and even bought a copy of Das Haus der sieben Frauen, a German translation of a Brazilian novel and teleno­ vela. I could not hide my enthusiasm from anybody, especially not my close-knit level C11 class. My teacher particularly capitalized on this quirk. To explain the meanings of new vocabulary words, he would frequently make up stories about me and my Brazilian Freund

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(I was too embarrassed to clarify that I meant “male friend” and not “boyfriend”) or pit me and my Hungarian classmate against each other in hypothetical Hungary vs. Brazil soccer matches. I had almost become a Brazilian representative somehow. Something similar would happen when I went to Ecuador the following summer for a TESL certification program. There, too, I packed in my luggage the papel of the Girl Who Loves Brazil, and I was shameless even to the point of aligning with Brazil against Ecuador during the Copa América 2011. There is a photograph of me with my young host brothers on the night Brazil defeated Ecuador. In the photo, I seem to be suffering an identity cri­ sis: Both of my brothers are wearing bright yellow Ecuador shirts, and I am in the middle wearing both a shirt for Ecuador and a scarf emblazoned with the badge of the Brazilian national team. To make matters worse, I had crash-learned Spanish beginning only four months prior, and so often I spoke not Spanish but Portuñol. I always knew when I had illegally imported something from Portuguese when the listener, usually my host mother or host brothers, gave me the stare of non-comprehension. It got to the point that one person asked the delightful question, “¿Eres brasileña?” Throughout my experiences in Germany and Ecuador there was a sense of playfulness that echoes Otsuji and Pennycook’s (2010) concept of metrolingualism, which “describes the ways in which people of different and mixed backgrounds use, play with and negotiate identities through language” (p. 246). Although in Germany I did not quite know enough Portuguese to negotiate an identity through language, I used other practices to construct a paper self and to win reifications of it from others; and in Ecuador, both my language prac­ tices and my other behaviors contributed to the construction of this self-emblazoned with the badge of Brazilian-ness. In each case, a shift of setting had somehow turned the game of pretending into a pleasurable rather than a transgressive act. If I was a Brazilian Wannabe, it was in a humorous way that seemed perfectly legitimate, even part of what made me “me.” No one had met me before; no one knew any differently; no adults could catch me playing make-believe and accuse me of being false. In a world in which I was already “Other,” and in which my beloved myths were also Other, no one had the authority to poke holes in my paper self. I was free to masquerade without shame. In fact, I was relieved to be able to hide behind this paper self. It was as if someone, to console me, had invented a fin slipcover to make me appear to have legs, and I could escape from the borders of my ascribed identity as “American,” which in each setting came with rather ambiguous ideological baggage. I was happy to pass as anything else. Going abroad gave me one foot in a Brazilian identity, even if it was imaginary, and moved me to an intermediate stage between pure fins and pure legs. However, the hon­ eymoon was not to last; underneath all of my playful identity games, I knew my paper self was a sham. I knew I would eventually have to answer to an authority, and the paper self would crumple as soon as I faced the serious business of communicating with the Other on his own ground and in his own language, a language of which I still had only a shaky and rudimentary command. But how could I learn the practices of the Other without a rep­ resentative to guide me? Providence struck in the spring of 2011, only months before my trip to Ecuador. After a weekday Mass, which I was in the habit of attending after work, a woman approached me out of the blue and struck up a conversation. It turned out that she was an instructor at the university’s intensive English program, and when I told her I was considering going to teach English in Brazil, she asked if I would be willing to act as a conversation partner for Lúcia, one of her Brazilian students.

The mermaid’s immortal soul


I agreed to meet Lúcia, but a deep, self-conscious anxiety set in immediately. Here was yet another representative of the Other who, though she could help me learn to commune with those in her world, could also see through my make-believe games and dim the com­ forting glow of Brazilian-ness that I enjoyed in the light of my mythical paper self. I knew that behind that glowing myth, I had no voice. In my obsessive pursuit of the Other, I had sacrificed my sense of worth in the person I already was. I had uprooted myself and thrown the roots away in shame. What if she saw the nothingness behind my masquerade? What if she saw that rootless being who was neither human nor mermaid? Still, in spite of these fears, I pressed onward and began to meet Lúcia every Sunday outside a pizzeria in the mall. English was the language of choice since Lúcia was an intermediate-level speaker and wanted to practice her English and I was a beginner in Portuguese and could not sustain a conversation in it. For a while my paper self was allowed to remain in place. The deal with conversation partnering, however, is usually that there is a two-way exchange, and our lack of it did not go unnoticed by either of us. One afternoon I waited by the pizzeria but could not find Lúcia, so I went outside to the bus stop. Soon a car drove up and stopped in front of me. I did not recognize it, nor did I recognize the girl in the driver’s seat, but then Lúcia jumped out of the car and told me that there was a change of plan. There was a group of Brazilians throwing a churrasco at someone’s house, and I was invited to go. All my dreams and all my nightmares were about to come true at once. The churrasco was a pivotal moment: It was a face-to-face encounter with the Other in a controlled environment, a small island of foreign territory in the midst of the familiar sea. All the guests were Brazilians except for me. All spoke English to varying degrees, but Lúcia expected me to start using what little Portuguese I did have whenever I could – and so I would have to use my legs to walk even while as yet I could barely stand on them. Unsurprisingly, my first experience there was a humiliating one: one of the guests, Luciano, for whom they were throwing the party, greeted me outside the house and said, “Muito prazer.” I thought he had said something about a brassiere but reasoned that brassiere could simply not be right, so while I was sitting there silent and wondering how to react, Lúcia intervened and gave the translation: “Nice to meet you.” I was not off to a good start. As I was introduced to the others, I observed their reactions to me to gauge whether or not I was a welcome guest since I was the only non-Brazilian, a stranger who did not really speak Portuguese. With only a very thin paper self to protect me – i.e. my identity as Lúcia’s conversation partner – it seemed to me that I had come upon land all but naked. I felt, as Andersen’s mermaid did, that I was treading on needles, even if I appeared to Lúcia to be gliding over the ground. Throughout the afternoon I was never entirely sure whether or not I should be there or whether I was offending someone. The awareness of my nakedness, of my voicelessness, forced me to retreat into relative silence. I tried to remain unobtrusive for the rest of the day and spent much of my time talking to Lúcia and her friend Renata in English. I did, however, listen in on the other conversations in Portuguese and once in a while asked a question or made a comment. I shifted constantly between marginalization and peripherality, between the unfamiliar and the semi-familiar, between borders that shut me out and borders that I could start to cross. One of the moments in which I experienced my non-membership most keenly was when Luciano began telling jokes. I listened carefully but could only make out that they were jokes about Argentineans. I laughed along with everyone else, but when I was asked whether I could understand, I had to confess that I could only follow a little

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bit (and mostly based on tone and gesture). It was, however, incredibly exciting when I actually understood what someone said – usually in sound bites such as esse cara não and tá bem quente – and I began to feel that perhaps not all was lost and that with time my Brazilian self would blossom and bring me into full communion with this new world. I also participated culturally by sampling the Brazilian food, which included picanha, farofa, vinagrete, and coração de frango. The last was a sort of rite of passage, and after I rose to the challenge and ate it – liked it, even – there was much satisfaction all around. I may have been silent and awkward and incompetent in Portuguese, but I was competent in eating chicken hearts. After the churrasco, I had hoped that Lúcia might continue to act as my guide to the world of the Other, but that summer we parted ways: Lúcia to Brazil and I to Ecuador. Now I was once again left without a “flesh-and-blood” Other to emulate. I was too afraid to approach the others I had met, because even though the churrasco had been a mostly positive experience, I dreaded seeing them again. I was convinced that everyone could see my nakedness, that they had all been humoring me and secretly thought I was ridiculous. Thus, I fled back into the silence behind my paper self – the Girl Who Loves Brazil, as reconstructed in Ecuador – and indulged in remythologizing an ideal Brazilian and an ideal self to commune with it. I even reinforced the paper and legitimized my trajectory by recasting it as a professional dream: In my personal statement to enter Penn State’s MA program in TESL, I wrote that my dream was to teach English abroad, with special interest in South America. (Expanding my scope to “South America” seemed to give an even more flexible, professional appearance.) When I started graduate school, I tacked a print-out of the Brazilian flag above my desk in the graduate student office and wrote beneath it, “Não se esqueça!” (Don’t forget!) so that I would not lose sight of the great myth that drew me onward. One day as I was working at my desk, one of my classmates noticed the flag. He remarked on it, and when I explained my plans to learn Portuguese and teach in Brazil, he mentioned that one of his students was from Brazil and then suggested that I meet her. She had recently arrived and was looking to make local friends. I felt a pang of the familiar anxiety, but I agreed and took down her e-mail address. Her name, in a world-class coincidence, was Lúcia. I was intimidated by this Lúcia from the start. It turned out to be cold and rainy the day we met, and I had neglected to bring a jacket, so on top of being exceedingly nervous I was also feeling very cold, unprepared, and inadequate. On the whole our first meeting was an awkward experience, full of unease and silence and Portuñol on my part, and I wondered to myself later if Lúcia regretted ever starting this friendship experiment. Did she see how naked I was? Did she see my feet bleeding as they walked over the unfamiliar ground? But a few days later I received her text – quer marcar um café? – and I was relieved to get a second chance. From then on, we met periodically for coffee at the Creamery, speaking almost entirely in Portuguese. Here, more than ever, I felt myself walking on needles and knives, and often I simply could not get the words out. It was even worse when she unexpect­ edly brought a guest. I would listen and try to understand, try to respond, but the painful awareness of my nakedness and nothingness literally choked off my voice. I hadn’t had time to develop a new paper self to hide it. Faced with my frustrating silence, Lúcia made it her expressed goal to get me to talk. Eventually we co-constructed a new identity for me, a new self to explain my behavior, but it was a papel I did not like. This new role was encapsulated in the word tímida. Shy, timid, fearful. To me, Brazilians were not tímidos, and

The mermaid’s immortal soul


as long as I wore this paper self, I could not be one with the Other. As long as my vergonha, my timidez, kept me voiceless, I could never reach what seemed so close. One night, Lúcia and I decided to meet not at a coffee shop but at a bar. Initially it was awkward as usual, mostly because of my perpetual feeling of choking on my voice and walking on needles but also because I felt I had marked myself as an outsider by dressing down in jeans and sneakers while Lúcia arrived in stylish black pants and heels. In other words, I hadn’t worn the correct paper self, and my nakedness was showing. Then the mir­ acle occurred. My oversized margarita became like a second magic draught to reverse the effects of the other – and my voice began to return. With the return of my voice, I became more fluent, and the conversation flowed with incredible ease. Instead of worrying, I was speaking. When two other patrons of the bar came over to start talking to Lúcia and me, Portuguese even became a kind of secret language for us to make comments that we didn’t want them to hear. On one occasion the one next to me said something rather irritating to Lúcia, and whether she really did not understand him or was simply pretending, I had to “translate” the gist of what he had said. In that act of “translation” and in our use of the secret language, we created an exclusive space of meaning between ourselves. We negoti­ ated what was happening and what was said in our own terms, distinguishing ourselves through language as sharing a separate identity. I could not believe what was happening: In this hybrid moment, in which I was simultaneously using my fins and my legs, I felt I was finally communing with the Other. As a consequence of the presence of two non-speakers, two nonmembers, I was made to belong; I had magically gone from outsider to insider both in my own mind and in practice. It was only to get better from there. We then walked to Lúcia’s favorite bar, an Irish pub, where we met up with a friend of hers. Very soon a large group of Lúcia’s friends showed up, including two brasileiros, one of whom was Paulo from the churrasco. He recognized me and greeted me like I was an old friend. I was surprised by this reaction, having imag­ ined that I had rather made a joke of myself the last time we saw each other. This welcome gave me a boost of confidence, and, what was more, I knew that this time I could talk back: I was armed with a much greater ability to speak Portuguese than I had had in the spring. Within minutes, the lingering insecurity from the churrasco experience evaporated, and my voice was back in its fullness. I was no longer pretending, no longer trying to construct mythic selves to gain entry; I had somehow entered the group and I was being. For the rest of the evening, I spent much of my time talking to the two Brazilians and another graduate student from Peru, and even after Lúcia left to catch a late bus to New York, I stayed out with the “meninos” drinking, eating late-night college pizza, and code-switching between Portuguese, English, and sometimes Spanish. It was exhilarating to be participating so effortlessly, to dispense with the self-consciousness over which papel I happened to be wearing at the time, and to just be part of the group. The triumph was further reified when Carlos, the second of the brasileiros, expressed his surprise at how easily I spoke since he had been told I was rather tímida. For one night, at least, I could laugh in the face of that word. That night out was one of the most important moments in my struggle between fins and legs and paper selves. Suddenly I was a Portuguese speaker – I could read, write, speak, sing, and dream in Portuguese. A few days later, in fact, when I was sedated for a medi­ cal examination, I woke up speaking Portuguese to the nurses. I was developing a new “hybrid” identity – a new paper self – of which I was quite proud. The mythical Brazilian self I had been dreaming of for so long had never seemed so close. Yet beneath it all I was

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still anxious that I might lose this new papel. My hold on it was so tenuous, and the mate­ rial so fragile to start with, that I knew one more failed communication could bring it down and reveal to everyone the nakedness beneath. Soon enough I felt the effects of the new magic draught beginning to fade. My voice began once again to crack and go silent under my very anxiety to lose it. By the time Lúcia came back from a Christmas vacation in Brazil and met me again for coffee, I was back in my fearful silence, as if I had never come out of it in the first place. Once again, as always before, I wanted to commune with the Other but did not want to give them the occasion to see my nothingness behind the myths and papeis. Tragically but unsurprisingly, the resulting noncommittal silence proceeded to prevent me from com­ muning at all. I ran into Carlos one day on campus, and after only three words – eiii, tudo bem? – I suddenly could not speak. As I would put it later while apologizing to him, virei pedra: I turned to stone. By now I was so frustrated with my own fear and timidez that I worried what would happen when I went to Brazil that summer for two months. Would I turn to stone? Stutter, run away? Still I told myself that somehow it would all work out when I got on land and got used to my legs. Somehow the paper selves would disintegrate, and beneath it, by magic or by miracle, there would be not nothingness but the realized myth of my Brazilian self in all its Othered glory. On that beautiful horizon of Belo Hori­ zonte, Brazil, I was sure I would gain my immortal soul.

Betrayal on land: of myths undone The little mermaid, dressed in silk and gold, held up the bride’s train; but her ears heard nothing of the festive music, and her eyes saw not the holy ceremony; she thought of the night of death which was coming to her, and of all she had lost in the world. (Anderson, 1836)

Kramsch (2009) warns teachers of heritage language learners that contact with “the ref­ erential meanings of words severed from their subjective dimensions” can be difficult and disappointing for these learners, who undergo a “demythification” process from the lan­ guage that has previously had a very particular and intimate meaning as the language of family (p. 14). One risk to the transformative power of myth, then, is that a disconnect between one’s mythic expectations and a more banal reality can lead to bitter disillusion­ ment, particularly if the myths are held close to one’s heart. Thus, it is heartbreaking for the little mermaid and for the reader of Andersen’s fairy tale when the mermaid, who sacrificed so much to become human and live on land with the prince, finds herself coming always short of her dream of communion. Even worse, just when it seems that the prince is finally going to marry her, he suddenly finds his dream princess – the one he thought he had lost – and marries her instead. In a sudden and dramatic reversal of fortune, the mermaid’s dreams are shattered, and she is doomed to turn to seafoam. In hindsight it was inevitable that I would encounter demythification of some kind when I finally made it to Brazil and saw my fairy-tale world of the Other, which I could change and idealize at will, confined at last to solid, ordinary earth populated with solid, ordinary people. The depth of the disillusionment, however, was unexpected. My first few days in particular were days of the most excruciating demythification. Soon after the mer­ maid arrived on land, she came to discover that the prince was in love with someone else;

The mermaid’s immortal soul


in an eerily similar fashion, within days of landing in Brazil, I discovered that João was engaged to be married. Yet even before that, I had already begun to feel as if everything I knew and everything I thought I wanted was collapsing to the ground around me. From the first car ride from the airport to my host family’s house, I felt the full weight of culture shock pressing in on me from the billboards, the motorcycles, the trees, the foreign faces, the street dogs, and the barbed wire-protected walls. The language itself that I had loved so much seemed to choke me, and I found myself asking, over and over, why I was even there. I had wanted so badly to leave the sea, but the shock of the air and the earth beneath my feet left me wondering what on earth had ever made me want such a thing. Thus, my two great myths were shattered within the space of two days. This “betrayal” upon my arrival in Brazil shattered both the elaborate fantasy world I had created (the ahistorical Other of my desire) and all my hopes of belonging to it fully (as an Othered self equipped with the language to commune with that Other). I realized that in spite of selling my voice and gaining a pair of legs, I was not one of Them and never could be – nor, in fact, did I want to be. I saw with sudden clarity, and not a little shame, that dur­ ing all that time I had been building my image of Brazilian-ness around a great myth of João. I had expected to come to Brazil and see João – not the man himself, of course, but his myth reflected back at me in all the places and faces I encountered. And when I came face-to-face with that myth, I expected I would find my true self, my immortal soul. The banality that met me, however, reflected something else. It turned my myths back on me and showed me all my paper selves, all my hollow desires and fantasies, for what they were: seafoam. I took refuge where I had always taken it: in prayer. Over Pentecost weekend, I made a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, one of the largest Marian shrines in the world and the spiritual heart of Catholic Brazil. That weekend I was in the grip of both culture shock and the lingering pain of demythification, and I spent much of my time – when I was not praying – wishing that people would stop talking to me in Portuguese. Three times I went past the beloved imagem of Our Lady of Aparecida, and the last trip I took crawling on my knees. Many pilgrims crawl to the image on their knees as a sign of repentance, and in my case, I was repenting of my myths. While I was on my knees, I repented for the years and the energy I had wasted on my myths and for the point­ less self-abasement I had committed in trying to snuff out my voice and my gifts, all for the sake of trying to claim something I could not have and to become something I could not be. When I left Aparecida on Pentecost Sunday, I did not feel any better. There had been no sudden revelations or sweeping consolations. My diary entries around that time were full of questions, disillusionment, loneliness, and despair. I had abandoned my myths and paper selves, and I felt I was doomed to be seafoam from then on. Nowhere on this earth would I ever find a place to belong. My experiences throughout those two months in Brazil were a mix of highs and lows, as with any trip abroad, but in hindsight I can also see that I began to search for another iden­ tity to make up for what I had lost. I could not stand my nothingness and nakedness with­ out any papeis to cover it, and so I fled back to my past trying to find something in which I could clothe myself. After years of being ashamed of my ascribed identity – Anglophone White US American – I found sudden delight in allowing myself to be norte-americana. Sometimes I was still embarrassed by it, especially when I ran into anyone who was none too keen on American foreign policy, but mostly I was just proud. During tutoring ses­ sions with my host family, I would share American rock ’n roll videos, and I would think

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to myself how much I liked my country and my language. I longed for the comfort of my fins and the familiarity of the sea. I even began to long for my myths of Germany again, which I rediscovered when I went to Curitiba and found myself entrenched in saudades after visiting the German Woods and then finding a few German novels in my hostel’s library. As the mermaid was tempted by her sisters to return to the sea, I was tempted to flee back to what was familiar in order to avoid the fate of nothingness that awaited me. Underneath, however, I knew that even if I went back to what was familiar, to where everything seemed clear and shared, I would not find the communion for which I longed. The sense of sharedness in meaning among my home community, among native speakers of English, was an illusion. As Canagarajah (2013) writes, “what we consider as shared may mask a lot of diversity which our ideological spectacles may not allow us to acknowledge” (p. 20). I could not effortlessly commune with norte-americanos any more than I could with brasileiros or alemães. I did not know it at the time, but I was already starting to question the monolingual par­ adigm and any attempt to construct an identity within it. I dispensed with all my expecta­ tions of communicating effortlessly or belonging unequivocally in any single community, having been disillusioned in all my attempts to do so, and simply bore up under the weight of my nothingness. From that point, I was seafoam; as seafoam, I could be carried on the waves and blown about by the winds as they came. I could begin to see that “sharedness is achieved and not given” (Canagarajah, p. 20), and that I could shift myself around to achieve shared meaning, or a kind of temporary communion, with whichever Other I was speaking to. I could become a chameleon. And a chameleon I became, as a few anecdotes of my trip to Rio de Janeiro will illustrate. I went to Rio on a travel agency’s tourist package, which meant that I spent a lot of time touring with the same group of Brazilians from Belo Horizonte and the interior of Minas Gerais. Among them, of course, I was the foreigner. That is not to say that anyone treated me in an alienating manner; on the contrary, most of my fellow travelers were curious and kind, and they made sure that I understood everything and that I was never left behind. I made friends with a number of them and made a particularly special connection with a little toddler named Elisa, who could not yet speak Portuguese even as well as I did. The first time she saw me in the bus, she said, “Ei!” to get my attention, and I said “Ei!” right back – and this became the norm for all of our subsequent interactions, to the point that she must have thought my name was Ei. When I was with this group, I was marked as an outsider but for once did not mind. I was still blending in, speaking the language, getting done what I wanted to do. As in my one-word conversations with Elisa, I developed shared referents and norms by each situation instead of expecting them to come ready-made. My identity was “Ei” to Elisa, “Han-jee” to some, and “Randi” to others. My colors changed with every interaction. It was on Friday night of the five-day trip to Rio, however, that I discovered I had become a kind of chameleon par excellence. I was sitting at my favorite juice bar, wondering what I was going to do with my night, when a young man with blond hair came up to the counter to order a salgado. I could tell right away that he was not Brazilian, and so after helping him pick out a salgado from the array of pastries before us, I asked him in English where he was from. We ended up having an extended conversation there in the juice bar, and I found out that he was from Sweden and he was staying in a hostel on the same street as my hotel. He invited me to go have a few drinks with him and the others, and so later

The mermaid’s immortal soul


in the evening I went to the hostel and met a very international group of other young travelers, all of them speaking the hostel’s lingua franca, English. Eventually I ended up at a table that I would later call the “World Englishes Inner Circle Congress,” consisting of an Englishman, an Irishman, an Australian, and me. The four of us would go on to spend the entire night out dancing in Lapa. When we left the confines of the hostel, my colors changed from red, white, and blue to a strange and shifting conglomeration of everything, including yellow, green, and blue. As the only one in the group who spoke Portuguese, I became Brazilianized. Even as I spoke in English with my Inner Circle comrades, I sang along to the songs in the nightclub, spoke in Portuguese to the people around us, and generally started to take on the appearance of the Brazilian Other I had long wished to be. Most incriminating of all, on the cab ride home from Lapa, I was the one to give directions to the driver. The driver was impressed with my language ability, and there was a collec­ tive cry of surprise when we came to the right corner and I let out a native-like “Aqui-ó! Vire à direita!” That night I used my language resources in a fluid manner, allowing my language and my identity to shift according to the environment – i.e., the needs of the situation and the resources of the participants. It was not, however, the first time that this chameleon-like behavior had emerged. It had been with me, secretly, all along, as on the night out with Lúcia and os meninos. It had even been present during the churrasco, when I spent some time talking to a recently arrived Brazilian student who did not speak English very well. We were forced to use pieces of each language and to construct them, puzzle-like, into a shared understanding. Nor was it to end there in Brazil. When I returned, I was to discover that a piece of me had become Brazilian without my awareness of its occurring. I started tweeting, blogging, and applying to teaching jobs in Portuguese. At a celebration of Jorge Amado’s centenary, in which I was one of the presenters, a Brazilian woman approached me afterward and told me she had thought I was Brazilian because of the way I spoke. And while I studied basic Russian that semester, I found myself making connections not just between English and Russian but between all my languages – particularly German and Portuguese. For example, the word fakultyet, which was presented as having no direct English equivalent, still seemed old news to me because of the closer cognate faculdade in Portuguese. I was becoming more conscious of the fluidity of language resources and the recursive nature of our access to them (Canagarajah, 2013, pp. 10–11). The difference between the former experiences – that is, those before my arrival in Brazil – and the latter experiences is that in the latter I was no longer consciously trying to become Brazilian. I had abandoned the monolingual paradigm and all pursuit of trying to become Brazilian by its principles; yet somehow, amid all of this chaotic deconstruction, I had still become partially Brazilianized, and this could not be undone. Nevertheless, there remained a lingering question: Who was I? Who was I in my core, and where did I belong? How could I fulfill my longing for communion? There are some who would say that identity is always in-process, always changing, and that there is no core. To some extent it is true that identity is always in-process, shifting colors like the skin of a chameleon, but to never look past the interplay of ascriptions, acquisitions, and inven­ tions is to remain on the skin of things, where the paper selves emerge. And to never look past the surface phenomena is to never see the living being beneath. I am of the conviction that there remains an immortal soul, a true identity, an unchanging constant that remains like bedrock beneath the seafoam-like surface phenomena of postmodernism. As G. K.

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Chesterton wrote in Heretics (1905), while he was critiquing Rudyard Kipling’s rootless globe-trotting cosmopolitanism, “The more dead and dry and dusty a thing is the more it travels about . . . Fertile things are somewhat heavier, like the heavy fruit of the Nile.” He insisted, in a twist on the old adage of the rolling stone gathering no moss, that “the rolling stone rolls echoing from rock to rock; but the rolling stone is dead. The moss is silent because the moss is alive” (p. 18). One cannot remain a mere Nowhere Man made of seafoam traveling from place to place, having no soul to give one life and meaning. So what is to be done? When I let go of the false promises of the monolingual paradigm, los­ ing my hope for full communion and an immortal soul, what would then emerge from the seafoam of the new paradigm? I was to discover that, if I really wanted to find that core self, I had come to just the right place.

An immortal soul: of seafoam and the true self The sun rose above the waves, and his warm rays fell on the cold foam of the little mermaid, who did not feel as if she were dying. She saw the bright sun, and all around her floated hundreds of transparent beautiful beings; she could see through them the white sails of the ship, and the red clouds in the sky; their speech was melodious, but too ethereal to be heard by mortal ears, as they were also unseen by mortal eyes.The little mermaid perceived that she had a body like theirs, and that she continued to rise higher and higher out of the foam. (Anderson, 1836)

The morning after the prince’s marriage, the little mermaid throws herself into the sea. She has resisted the temptations of her sisters to kill the prince and his bride and return to the life of a mermaid – choosing, instead, to face head-on her fate as eternal seafoam. Then, as the sun rises over the water, she realizes that she is not dying at all. From the nothingness of seafoam, she begins to see and hear the invisible daughters of the air, and she sees further­ more that she has become one of them – that she has “a body like theirs.” The daughters of the air tell her that because of her good deeds she has merited transcendence from the world of the sea, and now – even without a human prince to marry her – she can begin to earn her immortal soul. It is a rapturous and unexpected miracle that renews the mermaid’s trajectory, restoring her to that which was her true dream all along: the dream of gaining an immortal soul and finding communion on a higher plane. By spurning her false selves and facing her own nothingness, the little mermaid comes to see with new vision. She does not yet have her immortal soul, but now the dream has moved on from the realm of myth and wish to become an accessible reality. One of the key events of this metaphor, easy to overlook amid the more exciting parts, is the little mermaid’s refusal to save herself by returning to the world of the mermaids – i.e., returning to a false sense of self as it has been ascribed by others. Nor does she try to come up with a clever scheme or magic spell, which would equate to constructing a new sym­ bolic self to avoid the terrible nothingness of seafoam. Instead, she leaps into her nothing­ ness. Notice that she does not even fall – she leaps. This is significant because it is precisely what spiritual writers from St. John of the Cross in the 16th century to Henri Nouwen in the 20th have advised us to do. Nouwen, writing on solitude, argues that many of us fear solitude – that is, not privacy, but prayerful silence with only ourselves – because without

The mermaid’s immortal soul


outer distractions we are left with only our nothingness. If we remain long in that desert, we will often be disturbed and terrified by what we see: It is this nothingness that I have to face in my solitude, a nothingness so dreadful that everything in me wants to run to my friends, my work, and my distractions so that I can forget my nothingness and make myself believe that I am worth something. [. . .] As soon as I decide to stay in my solitude, confusing ideas, disturbing images, wild fantasies, and weird associations jump about in my mind like monkeys in a banana tree. [. . .] Thus I try again to run from the dark abyss of my nothingness and restore my false self in all its vainglory. (Nouwen, 1999, p. 48) This is precisely what happened to me during my disillusionment in Brazil, although on a larger scale. For a long time, I had been storing up “false” or “symbolic selves” to compensate for the creeping awareness that there was nothing much under the surface, and this work of identity formation took place mainly in the arena of language learning and myth-building. Kramsch (2009) writes of this kind of desire that it is “a quest for a horizon of significance larger than the self. For many language learners, desire is the need for a language that is not only an instrumental means of communication, or a means of identification with some native speaker, but a way of generating an identity for them­ selves, of finding personal significance” (p. 15). My pursuit of a Brazilian identity was certainly one such quest, although the game had begun long before. Since childhood, I had immersed myself unabashedly in various fantasy worlds of alternative, idealized selves, all of them based on hybridity of language, culture, or race. Like my childhood idol Princess Ariel, the Disney version of the little mermaid, I was enamored with worlds beyond my own; before my eyes there was always that elusive, ever-shifting Other whom I desired and who I wanted to become. In high school, this manifested as an obsession with col­ lecting language dictionaries and phrasebooks, as well as listening to foreign music and wearing markedly foreign clothes (much like a rural version of Otsuji and Pennycook’s “metrolingual” identity model). All of it was really, at its heart, a search for that “horizon of significance larger than the self.” However, those ephemeral identifications that I have called paper selves, or papeis, came to an abrupt and traumatizing end when I got to Brazil, the place where I thought everything was going to come together. I was left with not a single papel standing. The myths went out like shorted light bulbs and left me dazed in the darkness of my nothingness, my nobodyness. Nonetheless, I refused to run back to my former myths or even my ascribed identity. I looked deep into that “dark abyss,” if only momentarily, and leaped into the seafoam. Then the miracle occurred. I saw with new vision the daughters of the air, the invisible possibilities that had been kept from my eyes while I still operated under the monolingual paradigm. With fantastic irony, the great disillusionment turned out to be a great privi­ lege, because it opened the way for me to see that I needed to detach myself from all the paper selves of the trajectories I had followed thus far and to find something that would precede and embrace them all. Rather than build my house on the sands that would inevi­ tably shift, I had to find a rock – nor just any rock but one that would roll and allow the growth of living moss. It was then that I realized I already had such a thing. It was called my immortal soul. It was the self I saw during consolations in prayer. It was the self who

214 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

allowed her name to change and her colors to shift but who remained solid and secure beneath, convinced of her place before God in the communion of the saints. This is the place where there is “neither Jew nor Greek” (Gal 3:28) and where St. Paul can be “all things to all, to save at least some” (1 Cor 9:23). St. Paul was so secure in his identity in the communion of saints that he did not mind adjusting his practices and his language in order to make a better connection with others. Similarly, my religious identity – far from chaining me – loosed my grip on my paper selves and freed my hands to work toward communion, or alignment, situation by situation. Canagarajah (2013) argues that “it is not uniformity of values that achieves community, but the ability to align disparate values and features for common goals” (p. 175). Read in terms of identity and desire, this means that it is not a sharing of language norms or of some kind of mythic identity (of the kind I tried to acquire pre-Brazil) that allows us to commune with the Other but our readiness and ability to align our various resources toward a shared understanding. Communion does not depend on reinventing our identities to match the Other’s. Rather, we need both roots – our immortal souls, our voices – and the willingness to recognize other unique souls and negotiate with other unique voices. When I realized that this was my answer – the very consolation I had been expect­ ing far earlier at Aparecida – I began to see the signs all along the way. Whenever I had gone abroad, I had felt most connected to others when I felt most secure in the self I was before God. This was particularly true when I learned to pray in the language of the Other. I attended local Masses in each country and went on pilgrimages to shrines – such as Aparecida in Brazil and Altötting in Germany – and also picked up Bibles and prayer books in German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Furthermore, I not only said rote prayers and rosaries in these languages but also began to use them to pray “freestyle,” as it were. I came to a heightened awareness that in prayer, all of my various identities and language resources were present, and I could draw on any languages or styles in my prayer and still be somehow solidly myself. As a result, I began to long for that solitude as a “place of conversion” where I could rediscover my true self (Nouwen, p. 47). Indeed, Nouwen insists that our lives are “rooted in [our] spiritual identity. Whatever we do, we have to go back regularly to that place of core identity” (p. 67). This core identity or true self was only reachable in solitude and prayer, and it was necessary to return to it again and again if I wanted the strength and foundation to interact with others who were so different from me. Granted, I did not realize what I was doing at the time, but the result was the same. When I emerged from that solitude, I was typically more ready to meet others in theirs. By finding my immortal soul I could respect that of the Other and avoid trying to either kill it or claim it for my own. This is an important point that I must emphasize. Achieving even temporary forms of communion – or benign sharedness, as opposed to negative or malignant sharedness – can only be done “right” when one is solid in one’s own voice, solitude, and eternal identity. Canagarajah (2013) writes that the translingual paradigm allows a “rooted cosmopolitan­ ism” in which one is free to start from one’s own voice or positioning: “There is no need to abandon one’s difference for the sake of harmonious cosmopolitan relationships. Cosmo­ politanism is vibrant when one’s difference and voice are affirmed” (p. 175). I would argue further that the rooting is necessary if one wants to avoid crushing potential communion either through forcing oneself upon the Other (i.e. insisting upon one’s own conception of an external linguistic standard) or through trying to vanish into the Other (i.e. doing

The mermaid’s immortal soul


the same thing in reverse). Without a solid sense of identity, we grasp for control of our own actions and those of others in order to construct and defend an identity. With a solid of sense of identity, on the other hand, we gain the ground from which to negotiate. From one’s rootedness or solitude – the place where one sees that one is unique and alone – one can reach out to others: “We can come together in community, because we don’t cling to one another out of loneliness. [. . .] Rather, we bow to one another’s solitude” (Nouwen, p. 44). From an acceptance of one’s solitude in one’s own unique voice, a healthy translin­ gual identity can arise.

Conclusion Writing about an experience tends to lend the appearance of form and completion, but I do not wish to give the impression that I found my immortal soul and reached some kind of nirvana-like state of Enlightenment, from which there need be no more growth. The mermaid was not automatically rewarded with an immortal soul but was required to work for it over the course of hundreds of years as a daughter of the air. In my case, the process will continue not as an attempt to earn a true identity but to discover little by little what is already there – and I imagine this will continue to be accomplished through writing, which has been my constant companion and guide on the journey from dreaming mer­ maid to a “daughter of the air.” Journaling throughout all of these experiences helped me not only to remember but also to process my observations and emotions as they happened. Writing this autoethnography over the course of two sets of drafts – one before the “death” in Brazil and a second after I had already risen from the waves – also helped me to visualize, document, and track how my sense of self was changing. Through writing these narratives, I learned to detect patterns in the clay of experience and to follow them into the shaping of a more distinct, more presentable form. Yet even at the end of the most satisfying stories, patterns and plotlines must extend beyond the last words. This story is no different. My diving and digging after the core self will go on, as will the attempts to build fragile lines of communion with the Other before me. The point I am trying to make is that there is such a thing as a core self and that the monolingual paradigm may become an obstacle to seeing it. It is an obstacle because our symbolic selves, our myths and images we construct in order to “apprehend” each other (Kramsch, p. 44), may become conflated with this true self and take on the appearance of permanence or timelessness. Our language norms and other practices accordingly begin to appear permanent and timeless, in keeping with the monolingual focus on external shared norms. As a result, we may come to think that we can only achieve our desire for communion through matching up our conflated symbolic/true selves with those of the Other, an undertaking which we eventually come to find is an impossibility. A healthy translingual identity is born when the monolingual identity dies, when the clinging desire for communion through a shared external system collapses. For me that meant a halt in the construction of myths and paper selves, followed by a long glance into the apparent nothingness, voicelessness, and solitude beneath. Once detached from my constructed and ascribed selves, I was horrified with a vision of my own poverty. Beneath the talk and the images I projected, there seemed to be nothing substantial to give me an inherent value. Then, between the solitude and the seafoam, I saw something glinting in the dark. It turned out that amid the nothingness there was Something indeed – a pearl shining there

216 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

in the deep. I could never have seen it if I had not faced the darkness. Only after being divested of my land-clothes (my symbolic selves) could I dive in and begin to clear away the mud that still hid it from my sight. I furthermore do not disagree with Otsuji and Pennycook (2010) and others who describe identity as a process or as a complicated interplay of fixity and fluidity. It appears that, to a degree, we do construct our identities using various resources and modalities, including verbal language. We also have our identities reified and ascribed to us by others. The fluid and recursive translingual paradigm makes room for us to view the complicated ways these things do occur in human interactions. However, these changing identities are paper selves – surface phenomena. It is not that they are not important, but they are not the full story. Beneath the surface that moves and changes and pulls us in many directions, we can either see dark waters or a pearl. A translingual paradigm shift thus reveals identity on one level as layered and changing, fixed and fluid, ascribed and acquired and invented – but it also permits us to see a constancy beneath that is not attached to fixed notions of identity based on “language” and “culture.” This core self, when discovered and embraced, can help a translingual to keep a solid, rooted self as he or she enters each contact zone. It is a rock to help us weather the storms of paper selves that are built and destroyed and re-built in every unfamiliar situation. It is also, when properly respected as a sacred gift, an aid toward interacting with others who have been given the same gift (although with a unique voice). Otherwise, as Nouwen warns, When we cling to the results of our actions as our only way of self-identification, then we become possessive and defensive and tend to look at our fellow human beings more as enemies to be kept at a distance than as friends with whom we share the gifts of life. (p. 42) Nouwen wrote these words in the context of his faith, but his insight is no less illu­ minating here. Excessive attachment to the symbolic selves we construct can impede our community-building. It seems, then – and it is not surprising – that a translingual identity is one made up of multiple, moving layers, and it is paradoxically most harmonious and effective when it is rooted. That is, when the deepest layer, the bedrock of the mermaid’s “immortal soul,” is recognized and embraced. Such a state can only be reached when one has detached or “died” to one’s myths and conflated symbolic/true selves. In shifting from a monolingual paradigm-based conception of ourselves as This or That, toward a translingual identity of layers underlaid by a unique and constant core, we die to rise again. We rise again on the third day into a third space, but one which is not so much a third space (connected as that term is with mere hybridity) as it is a preeminent, all-encompassing space. This space gives meaning and order to the symbolic selves that form around it. It raises the mermaid from the seafoam of her monolingual dreams to a world of new translingual possibilities.

References Andersen, H. C. (1836).The little mermaid. In Fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen (H. P. Paull,Trans.). Retrieved from

The mermaid’s immortal soul


Canagarajah, A. S. (2013). Translingual practice: Global Englishes and cosmopolitan relations. Abingdon: Routledge. Chesterton, G. K. (2011 [1905]). Heretics [Kindle version]. Retrieved from Kramsch, C. (2009). The multilingual subject. New York: Oxford University Press. Nouwen, H. (1999). The only necessary thing (W. W. Greer, Ed.). New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company. Otsuji, E., & Pennycook, A. (2010). Metrolingualism: Fixity, fluidity and language in flux. International Journal of Multilingualism, 7(3), 240–254. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. New York: Cambridge University Press.




Jingjing Lai

Ever since Robert Kaplan (1966) introduced the model of contrastive rhetoric, multilin­ gual writing scholars have focused on the comparison and contrast of Chinese and English rhetoric and how those similarities and differences influence Chinese learners’ English learning. I believe that cultural patterns informing the rhetoric of different languages con­ tribute to the different ways L1 and L2 learners write. However, one of the limitations of the original contrastive rhetoric hypothesis is its emphasis of culture and overlooking the intervening influences of writers’ backgrounds and personal choices on their L2 writing (Lin, 2007). I believe that writing traditions in all languages are diverse and the influences of contrastive rhetoric on individuals are not static but dynamic. My personal literacy jour­ ney in Chinese and English traces how I selectively chose and developed a certain writing preference from an inclusive Chinese rhetoric and how I managed the tension between Chinese and English rhetoric to develop a new style of writing that accommodates per­ sonal preferences and my rich literacy education.

L1 literacy – choose what is right My father always commented on my Chinese writing style saying, “You are born to be a sentimental writer.” He is somewhat right because it seems that the sentimental and implicit writing style is rooted in my personality. But he is not completely right because I was not born to be who I am but choose “what is right.” My Chinese literacy preference was first established from self-initiated reading. My father was a book lover with wide ranging tastes. His bookshelf was filled with stacks of Chinese and Western literature classics, modern prose, and ancient poems. The first time I ran into this forest of books, I fell hopelessly in love with the traditional Chinese writing philosophy that motivates authors to “observe both the natural world and human society and to capture their essence” (You, 2010, p. 19). Although there were stacks of master­ pieces that demonstrated straightforward, assertive characteristics, I personally appreciated the rhetorical pattern of descriptive observation and “writing between the lines” (e.g., seizing on an incident to extrapolate associated meanings, or taking advantage of a scene

Negotiating languages and rhetorics


or impersonal object to express one’s emotion). I developed my own taste of reading for narrative texts, cultural philosophical prose, and romantic classics. Interestingly, my reading preferences in turn shaped my writing style. The more I read, the more I imitated the tone, expression, and writing style of those books. I kept reflective journals to observe nature or events, like the changing color of sunset or a wonderful field trip. When I started writing prose, I tried to capture the essence of an event or object, like my favored writers did. I was unconsciously influenced by my reading, but the instruction from school finally made me realize why such writing styles are accepted and even highly encouraged. When I started third grade, the teacher required us to write short essays every week. One day, I created a vivid description of the beautiful scenery employing rhetori­ cal flourishes and quoting famous poems and sayings. I also went a step further to express my admiration and appreciation of Mother Nature in the essay. To my surprise, this essay was highly praised by my teacher and later got published in the school magazine. When I browsed the whole magazine, I found that most of the published essays were expressive and descriptive, conveying some deep meaning behind the surface. My emerging writing style was further developed through exam-oriented instruction. The design of composition exams emphasized the development of thoughts over organiza­ tion and style. Content contributed to 50 of the 100 points in the writing assessment (see also You, 2010). Usually there are some formal expectations: no less than 800 characters; all genres are accepted except poetry; no specific organizational structure is required. I still remember the composition writing prompt of the College Entrance Exam in Fujian province, my hometown, in 2008. It was a scenario: Three men walked into a store. The man who bought a bottle of juice said, “I love sweet things.” Another man asked for a cup of coffee, saying he liked the mixture of bitter and sweet. The last man said he favored mineral water. The writing prompt creates space for diverse methods of writing and angles to be explored. I usually decided the main theme and then chose a suitable genre (narration, argumentation, or narrative-argumentation) for the expression of my thoughts. My interpretation of that scenario was the importance of respecting the variety of life. Therefore, I chose to write a narrative-like argumentation in which I told a story of how my family members with three different life philosophies supplemented each other’s weakness to reach harmony and balance as a family. There could be other ways of responding to that topic. My high school teachers taught several organization types and writing styles: “kai men jian shan” (开门见山, get to the point directly, featuring an early thesis statement and deductive reasoning); “zu zhang xian zhi” (卒章显志, bring out the crucial point in the conclusion part, featuring a late thesis statement and indirect reasoning); “jie wu yan zhi” (借物言志, use object/event to express the writer’s reflection on life, featuring an implied thesis and implicit reasoning); and “jia xu jia yi” (夹叙夹议, a combination of narration and argumentation, featuring comment­ ing on topic-related examples, usually personal or historical experiences). All those writing styles are appreciated only if they fit with the appropriate content, which is called “xing yun liu shui (行云流水, smooth writing)” in Chinese. According to You (2010), the ancient Chinese invented writing to observe both the natural world and human society and to capture their essence. Although the eightlegged essay reached its peak time in the Qing Dynasty, it is no longer an influential genre after being abandoned in New Culture Movement. After the People’s Republic of China was established, the Marxist style valued the essence of the objective world – to observe

220 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

everyday life closely and dig out the meaning behind it (You, 2010). As I read a lot of Chinese classics and modern prose texts that embedded this writing philosophy, I uncon­ sciously incorporated this writing style into my writing. Besides, as I personally prefer this way of writing, I consciously imitated the writing style sometimes. Chinese writing styles are diverse, and contain both inductive and deductive styles (Mohan & Lo, 1985). For example, a Chinese classic poem, “An Epigraph in Praise of My Humble Home” (陋室铭) written by Liu Yuxi, is a great example of deductive writing style. There is a thesis statement that “My home is humble, but it enjoys the fame of virtue so long as I am living in it.” It describes the good things of the writer’s home, such as the surroundings, academic atmosphere, and quiet environment. The conclusion used a rhe­ torical question to echo his thesis. This deductive reasoning style is also highly appreciated, so I learned this poem in my junior high school as a model (I have provided my personal translation): 《陋室铭》 刘禹锡 山不在高,有仙则名。 水不在深,有龙则灵。 斯是陋室,惟吾德馨。 苔痕上阶绿,草色入帘青。 谈笑有鸿儒,往来无白丁。 可以调素琴,阅金经。 无丝竹之乱耳,无案牍之劳形。 南阳诸葛庐,西蜀子云亭。 孔子云:“何陋之有?” An Epigraph in Praise of My Humble Home (陋室铭) by Liu Yuxi (Liu, 2007) A mountain doesn’t necessarily need to be high. It will be famous as long as there is a celestial being in it. A lake doesn’t necessarily need to be deep. It has supernatural powers when a dragon resides in it. Though my home is simple and crude, my noble virtue makes it enjoyable to live in it. The moss on the doorsteps is turning green. The color of the grass reflects on the bamboo curtains, which changes the color of the room into the bluish green. Inside the house, there are erudite scholars having conversations with me in good spirits. There is no common man in and out of the room. In the house, I can tune and play my undecorated instrument or read precious Buddhist texts. There is no disturbance of noisy music. Neither is there the burden of reading official documents. My home is like the thatched hut of Zhuge Liang of Nanyang, or the Pavilion Ziyun of Xishu. Confucius once said: How can we call this house simple and crude? Even exam-based writing allows various genres and organization styles. Unlike English composition which requires a particular genre, such as an argumentative essay, Chinese composition allows candidates to choose genres they are comfortable with, based on their writing objectives. There are three types of Chinese composition in the Chinese college entrance exam: topic composition, proposition composition, and material com­ position. Almost all the exam prompts clearly state that the examiners are open to any genre. Various genres and organization styles are appreciated if the main themes are in line with mainstream values of society. For example, a material composition prompt was given in the exam of 2010 in several provinces. The test asked the examinees to write an article based on a worker painting a boat that he fixes a hole in. For his troubles, the owner of the boat gives him a large amount of money. The owner says, “I thought my

Negotiating languages and rhetorics


children would never come back when they went to sea in the boat, as I knew there was a hole in it.” Any genre and style were acceptable except a poem. A collection of highscoring essays demonstrates the view that writing style or perfection of language is not the most important thing in composition (“Xin ke”, 2012). One examinee wrote a short story in which the worker was portrayed as the one who demonstrates benevolence and social responsibility to demonstrate the importance of creating mutual trust and respect for society. One examinee wrote an argumentative essay to call for the action of care for each other by quoting examples from poems and classics. Another article used the previously mentioned 开门见山 style and examples of jobs and the tragedy of a train crash to support his argument. Although these examinees interpreted the given mate­ rial and organized their articles in different ways, they all reflected the accepted view of morality and achievement of virtue. The college entrance exam composition uses a holistic scoring rubric in accordance with the principle of “kaifang baorong linghuo duoyuan” (openness, inclusion, flexibility, variety). The exam encourages examinees to take advantage of genres they are good at to explore creativity and profundity of content (Zhou, 2011). The Chinese rhetorical tradition values content over the organization or writing style. All my Chinese teachers told us that writing should follow the most natural way to express one’s thoughts and feelings as water can flow in ditches and tunnels of whatever shape (You, 2010, p. 142). This ideology in reading materials, writing instruction, and exam assessment gave me more space to focus on content and respected my choice to develop my own writing preference. The flexibility in genre and organization created more freedom for me to take advan­ tage of my preferred writing styles. Influenced by previous literacy input and writing instruction, I usually adopted a conceptual and inductive prose-like writing style. I pre­ ferred the style of “jie wu shu qing” to capture the essence of life events and human society. I enjoyed employing the earlier mentioned 卒章显志 to leave a strong impression of my thesis in the conclusion for the audience. I loved to use allegories, small real-life incidents, and fictional stories to illustrate or imply ideas even in argumentative essays. I emphasized content and inner logic over surface organization. Therefore, transition words and sen­ tences were rarely found in my writing. Although there were many good deductive reasoning style sample essays, my style of writing was very congenial to my teachers’ taste. Essays displaying a close description of events with sensitivity to the essence of nature and human society always received high scores. My Chinese literature education in college emphasized content even more. The college course writing encouraged me to explore the deep thoughts of assigned articles while relating them to our social life. That’s how I developed my writing philosophy of “choose what is right.” The writing tradition in Chinese is very diverse, and it includes both inductive and deductive styles in both classical works and modern prose. My personal reading preference was the inductive and allegorical writing. In the process of becoming a committed reader, I appropriated writing behaviors and preferences from this particular writing style. The writing instruc­ tion that was flexible about rhetorical patterns also opened more space for the development of my writing preference. All in all, my reading preference and feedback from schooling encouraged inductive and allegorical writing, which motivated me to “choose what is right.”

222 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

L2 literacy – look for what is right Unlike my L1 literacy that developed through self-initiated reading and writing in a more personal context, my English writing skills developed largely in a pedagogical context. My family members are all monolinguals, and the local community does not speak English in daily life. When I came across English, it was a mysterious and fancy “subject” to me. I learned from adults’ conversations that English was a ticket to greater life opportunities. The admiration and praise a good English learner earned from the community left me with the impression that learning English had tremendous benefits. I was curious about English and eager to master this privileged “subject” to earn respect and compliments. I adopted an instrumental motivation associated with the pragmatic and utilitarian benefits of language proficiency (Gardner & Lambert, 1972). Because the only way I was exposed to English was in the English language classroom, my English literacy was deeply influenced by classroom instruction. My earliest memory of English writing was exam-based practice in junior high, which focused on sentencelevel accuracy (i.e., grammatical correctness). In the test, a prompt – such as a title, a sce­ nario, a topic sentence, a picture or key words – might be provided. Students were asked to write a short composition of 100 to 120 words within 30 minutes. Although I wrote hypothetically for a native-speaker audience, in reality I was communicating with Chinese audiences (mostly my English teachers) who truly mattered in the immediate rhetorical situations (class assignments or tests). The writing was graded on grammatical correct­ ness, appropriate vocabulary, and smooth sentence flow. There were no comments on the content or overall structure of writing. The limited writing instruction and feedback from teachers was on sentence-level issues, which led to my overlooking of global issues like organization and ideas. My definition of “good English writing” was a few paragraphs of advanced vocabulary, well-constructed phrases, and sentence patterns. After the College Entrance Exam, I majored in Chinese at Shanghai University where I failed to receive much English exam-writing instruction and practice. I had never taken any College English Test (CET) preparation courses, so I developed my own way to deal with CET levels 4/6. This method included the following strategies: memorize writing samples before exams and then adjust the sample introduction sentences, transition words, and frequently used words and phrases into stock composition topics. I did not practice how to structure English statements but how to directly “translate” words from Chinese to English to meet the word limit. My exam-oriented approach to English writing did not change much till I took the Practical English Writing class in college. I learned various English writing genres that do not exist in Chinese. Some were genres that were very functional and purposeful, such as cover letters, résumés, and personal statements. My teacher created specific contexts for us to practice those genres and graded writing assignments largely based on the content and discourse conventions. Such writing preferences were strengthened when I moved to the University of Wyoming in my senior year in college as an exchange student for nine months. I clearly remember how surprised I was when I saw the teacher’s comments on my cover letter: “What do you mean ‘excellent’? Do you have any evidence to support your claim?” “Be specific about one or two of your strengths or experiences. In what aspect are you better than other applicants?” “If you were the HR, would you offer an interview for this letter?” I started to sense the different rhetorical preferences in English writing, which

Negotiating languages and rhetorics


seemed to prefer direct, deductive reasoning. This genre-based practice turned out to be very useful in my graduate school application. When I prepared my graduate school appli­ cation during my exchange study at the University of Wyoming, I modified my résumé based on the work I did in that class. One of my professors at the University of Wyoming once said he was impressed that my résumé was native-like and professional. This experi­ ence made me reflect on the power of carefully structured writing instruction. I did not anticipate that much “language shock” when I came to the United States as an exchange student. I can still picture the experience in my mind. My eyes were focused on the computer screen for hours; my hands tapped the keyboard for a few seconds and stopped for a while; ideas came up and then flew away like meteors. I felt like I was being buried in the surging waves of confusion and frustration. That was my first paper for the Mass Communication class. As I had never written more than 400 words in English, this paper was painfully hard for me to conceptualize and write. When I later sat down to write a two-page paper in English, I was faced with a myriad of challenges that ranged from avoiding grammatical errors to constructing organization, from employing appropriate rhetorical patterns to finding a voice to express these complex ideas. The most frustrating thing was that the final product seemed so poorly written, even if I had addressed all the content-related issues well. I noticed that organization and mechan­ ics were valued much more in English academic writing than in Chinese. For example, in the Hot Topics in Education final project, “structure and development” constituted 15 out of a total 30 points, while significant topics, grammar and spelling, references, and cita­ tions constituted only 5 points, respectively. My academic writing class research paper was also graded mainly on organization (40/100), compared to content (30/100) and gram­ mar (30/100). Even if I could ignore organization in a 150-word composition, I had to acknowledge its importance in a longer paper. I tried to first construct the structure of the paper, unconsciously transferring my Chinese writing style into English writing, because I did not have a knowledge of typical English organization from my previous literacy exposure or writing instruction. My thesis statements were in the conclusion instead of the introduction, and the body paragraphs were constructed with examples but without explicit topic sentences. This way of writing conflicted with standard American academic writing conventions. Therefore, I always received a low score for the organization section. For instance, I got 28/30 in content while only 33/40 in organization for a term research paper. However, my proficiency in American academic writing increased thanks to the Com­ position for International Students class in the first semester of my exchange program. This class gave me systematic formal instruction in standard American writing norms. The teacher emphasized organization and documentation, such as thesis statement, paragraph formation, and citation conventions. By getting familiar with the formal conventions and different academic genres, I gradually understood that the American way of thinking and writing is linear, straightforward, and rigorous. The low scores in my TOEFL iBT writing confirmed to me the importance of complying with standard American academic writing norms. The first time I wrote the independent writing exercise in my preferred inductive “zu zhang xian zhi” style, I only got 20/30 on the writing section. Two weeks later, I con­ sciously followed the five-paragraph model by using a clear introduction, thesis statement, topic sentences, supporting sentences, examples, and conclusion. Unexpectedly, I got 28/30 this time. When I look back on this experience, I felt like mimicry of established

224 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

patterns was misinterpreted as improvement. Compared to Chinese writing, I think English writing is more flexible with ideas, but stricter in organization and documentation. I have never been told by my American teachers that my writing content was “wrong” or “inappropriate,” but it has always been pointed out that I have organization and citation problems, with comments like “delayed or unclear thesis” and “incorrect APA style.” After tasting the success of imitation, I surrendered to American writing style by sticking to the five-paragraph essays, as this strategy made me “succeed” in exams and assignments. I forced myself to think like an American, build up a linear outline, expand it by adding sup­ porting sentences and examples, and finally revise it into a final essay. After reading many successful English academic papers, and practicing the English organization framework for two semesters, I got accustomed to the linear deductive style of writing. I saw myself partially socialized into English writing academia by the time I completed my exchange study. My L2 literacy path so far was full of thorns because I had to manage my conflicts with my L1 writing style, and this feeling of constraint ended with my surrender to “model essays.” However, I felt depressed seeing myself writing like a robot, being trapped in a writing style that suppressed my voice.

A new style is emerging – choose how to write While accommodating to the Western writing style, I was surprised to find that Western thinking logic also silently penetrated my Chinese writing style. When I finished the oneyear exchange program, I went back to China to finish the last semester of undergraduate study. As the international affairs department wanted to promote this program, they asked me to write a reflective essay on my exchange experience. I clearly divided my theme into four aspects and then gave supporting stories or other objective evidence to back up each of my claims. When my Chinese roommate who knows my usual writing styles read this essay, she said, “Um, it is really a well-organized essay and very easy to follow, but it is really not like your writing style.” Her comment aroused my curiosity to explore what the difference was. Compared to my previous writing, I did find that something had changed. Unlike the concise and direct introduction in this essay, my previous college essay introductions were implicit but flowery, encompassing famous quotations and fancy sentences. I had used emotional and personal events to touch the audience. But now I accommodated objective evidence and data. I cannot say which style is better or more advanced. I was touched by the expressive and emotional writing and appreciated the beauty of the circularity and implicit­ ness. But I also valued the direct and clear organization of English writing. Although not fully clear, there were signs indicating a new style of writing was germinating. Seven months later, I came back to the United States to start my graduate study in TESL. The teacher preparation program encouraged us to reflect on our beliefs and experi­ ence of teaching and learning. I learned that rhetorical patterns and writing ideology may vary among cultures, but no writing style is superior. From a psychological perspective, I began to think about retaining Chinese writing preferences in my English writing to some extent. Writing reaction papers also gave me more space to use personal experience, which is more similar to my Chinese writing preferences. When I wrote my first reaction paper, I was greatly focused on local issues like grammatical correctness and appropriation of rhetorical patterns. After practicing this genre for a few times, I tried to be more globally oriented and content focused. I felt more comfortable accommodating personal experience

Negotiating languages and rhetorics


to support or challenge scholarship on certain topics. I could tell from the feedback of my professors that my personal opinions and experiences were very welcome. Though still struggling, I am open to new ways of presenting myself in English, such as inserting a poetic or flowery introduction, trying new words, and using stories in argu­ mentation. To play within the established framework, I pay attention to making the organ­ ization more explicit for a North American audience. For example, I sometimes repeat the thesis statement, and add transition words between paragraphs or different ideas, to sign­ post my ideas. When I use a story to imply an idea, instead of leaving the audience to figure out the meaning, I try to clearly explain how the story illustrates the principle or idea. Consider the style I have achieved recently. In the following excerpt from a reflection paper, readers will find a clear thesis statement, transition words, and a story as an example to illustrate my thesis. I think the biggest challenge I will be faced with is to give enough support and guidance for students to complete the task-based activities. This challenge comes from two aspects. First, students who are accustomed to teacher-fronted grammar-based courses need extra support and explanation to transit to student-centered task-based learning. If the students cannot understand the purpose of the task, it is hard to get them involved and accomplish a complete successful task. As teachers, we should give students a reason for needing and wanting to pay attention and being on-task. Teachers should design authentic tasks and provide students with an authentic purpose for using the language. Second, task-based activities pose high requirements on students’ language and cognitive skills. Since most task-based activities are communicative-based, the mastery of grammar rules does not guarantee successful completion of a task. There is an old Chinese allegory demonstrat­ ing the importance of skills than the content knowledge alone. It was said that a young orphan man tried his best to feed his younger brother after their parents died. The diligent young man fished for a living day and night, so the younger brother never got hungry. The little brother enjoyed fishes he got from his brother but was unable to fish by himself. However, one day the young man was caught by a cruel king of the mountain, left the little brother alone at home. Unfortunately, the little brother did not know how to fish or plant to feed himself, so he died soon. When the young man came back, he regretted to see the death of his brother and said “give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”. The implication of this philosophy is to teach skills rather than just teach knowledge. If teachers only taught the language content knowledge, students might lack the cognitive skills to become lifelong language learners. This story inspires front-line teachers to teach cognitive and communication strategies in the classroom as well as language knowledge. I gradually realized that neither my L1 nor L2 writing style are problems. They are the resources for my solutions. I can appropriate the rhetorical differences to write for audi­ ences from different academic communities. Instead of passively surrendering to what is “right,” I can choose how to write my way, and this can also work well.

Conclusion To some extent, my L1 confirms the contrastive rhetoric hypothesis that an individual’s writing is influenced by the writing tradition in a particular culture. I preferred the style of allegory and am fond of using a lot of small real-world incidents and fictional stories to

226 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

illustrate or imply my themes. This is influenced by the Chinese writing tradition of cap­ turing the essence. My style is also influenced by the allegorical style based on capturing the essence of the objective world. However, it is not appropriate to overgeneralize that Chinese writing lacks logic and deductive reasoning because Chinese rhetoric is diverse and embraces different kinds of reasoning traditions. Self-selected reading in certain writ­ ing styles and content-focused schooling have all contributed to my initiative to merge inductive and allegorical writing styles. One of the biggest critiques of the original contrastive rhetoric model (Kaplan, 1966) was the lack of attention to a number of important variables other than L1 rhetorical tradi­ tions that influence second language learner’s L2 literacy development. Students’ different writing styles against the standard North American writing conventions cannot guarantee that the differences were caused by L1 negative transfer. Some studies indicate that L1 could have positive transfer under certain conditions. For example, Chien (2011) finds that most Taiwanese students often used a direct approach in their Chinese and English exposi­ tory composition; therefore, deductive thinking patterns may not be difficult for Chinese students in Taiwan, particularly in their English writing. Scholars have investigated other factors that might contribute to differences in L2 learners’ writing, such as writing instruc­ tion (Lin, 2007; Ji, 2011; Mohan & Lo, 1985); reading input ( Ji, 2011); English proficiency; motivation; and self-regulation (Phakiti & Li, 2011). Examining my English writing trajectory, my L1 and L2 connection is not only influ­ enced by contrastive rhetoric but also by other factors like writing instruction. As I did not receive a systematic Anglo-American style of writing instruction, I unconsciously transferred my Chinese writing preference into English writing, which created a dis­ sonance with the expectations of a North American academic audience. Besides, lack of appropriate instruction and practice in the expected genre, such as the argumentative essay, also increased the feeling of confusion when I first came to the authentic North American academic environment. In my case, the L1 influences come from many factors: the composition guide for the college entrance examination, reading practice in second­ ary school, and my personal writing style that was influenced by Chinese socio-cultural modes. My English writing progression after receiving appropriate writing instruction suggests that teachers’ instruction and assessments of writing can be effective in L2 learners’ writing development. For instance, my Practical English Writing teacher adopted an accommoda­ tion attitude toward English. She emphasized following North American practical English writing conventions and required us to write for authentic native-speaker audiences. My résumé/cover letter writing skills very much benefited from this instruction. Similarly, the Composition for International Students class also tended to promote the socialization of stu­ dents’ writing into North American academia through form-focused instruction. I made great progress through those two classes. This experience can be counted as evidence that appropriate writing instruction can make a difference in students’ writing development. If I had learned English writing conventions earlier, my socialization into English academic writing would have been much easier. Lin (2007) conducted a study on Taiwanese advanced ESL learners’ organizational struc­ tures in persuasive English writings. She found that L2 organizational norms may transfer backward and influence the writers’ organization of their L1 writing. My case also sup­ ports the view that English writing style and thinking patterns influence the organization

Negotiating languages and rhetorics


of Chinese writing. I took more effort to make the organization more explicit by bringing the thesis statement forward and making topic sentences clearer in my writing. However, I do not fully commit to Anglo-American writing style but rather retain some of my Chinese writing preferences. I believe that my literacy trajectory demonstrates the emergence of a new style of writing. Durkin (2008) explores East Asian master’s stu­ dents’ attitude toward Western academic norms of critical thinking in classroom debate and assignment writing. The research suggests that the majority of students interviewed rejected full academic acculturation into Western norms of argumentation. They instead opted for a “Middle Way” that synergized their traditional home cultural academic values and Western academic norms. Every second language learner has his or her pathways and attitudes toward the target language, such as avoidance, accommodation, appropriation, or transition (Canagarajah, 2002). My trajectory of English learning demonstrated a transi­ tion from accommodation to appropriation. As a multilingual writer, I realize that my relationship with language is not static but dynamic. Writing is also not to passively present literature education or follow certain rules; there could be alternatives of writing styles. I have the choice to write my own way to make sense of the world.

References 2012 xin ke biao gao kao yu wen juan man fen you xiu zuo wen ji dian ping (2012). 2012 new course standard college entrance exam Chinese full-scored and high-scored composition and comments. Retrieved March 03, 2014 from Canagarajah, A. S. (2002). Critical academic writing and multilingual students. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Chien, S. (2011). Discourse organization in high school students writing and their teachers writing instruction: The case of Taiwan. Foreign Language Annals, 44(2), 417–435. Durkin, K. (2008).The middle way: East Asian master’s students’ perceptions of critical argumentation in U. K. Universities. Journal of Studies in International Education, 12(1), 38–55. Gardner, R. C., & Lambert, W. E. (1972). Attitudes and motivation in second-language learning. Rowley: Newbury House Publishers. Ji, K. (2011).The influence of Chinese rhetorical patterns on EFL writing: Learner attitudes towards this influence. Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics Quarterly, 34(1), 77–92. Kaplan, R. B. (1966). Cultural thought patterns in intercultural education. Language Learning, 16(1), 1–20. Lin, C. (2007). Contrastive rhetoric revisited: Taiwanese advanced ESL learners’ organizational structures in persuasive English writings (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (Accession Order No.AAT 3278626) Liu, Y. (2007). Lou shi ming [An epigraph in praise of my humble home]. In Curriculum Research Institute (Eds.), Yu wen ba nian ji shang [Chinese eighth grade A]. Beijing, BJ: People’s Education Press. Mohan, B. A., & Lo,W. A. (1985). Academic writing and Chinese students:Transfer and developmental factors. TESOL Quarterly, 19(3), 515–530. Phakiti,A., & Li, L. (2011). General academic difficulties and reading and writing difficulties among Asian

ESL postgraduate students in TESOL at an Australian University. RELC Journal, 42(3), 227–264.

You, X. (2010). Writing in the devil’s tongue:A history of English composition in China. Carbondale: Southern

Illinois University Press. Zhou, H. (2011, January 24). Gao kao zuo wen ping fen biao zhun jie du [The interpretation of college entrance exam Chinese composition scoring criteria]. Retrieved March 3, 2014 from http://gaokao.


BEYOND CONTRASTIVE RHETORIC My first and second language literacy development Shuo Zhao

According to Kaplan’s diagrams of writing styles of different cultures (1966, p. 15), people from countries in East Asia, such as China, Japan, and Korea tend to express their thoughts in an indirect way in their writing products, circling around the subject and providing loosely related reasons and evidence to view it from a variety of tangential perspectives. The English writing style, in contrast, is far more direct, like an arrow moving straightfor­ wardly toward the target. In the case of my first language (Chinese) and second language (English) literacy development, admittedly there exist distinctions between Chinese and English writing conventions, as resulting from different cultures. Other than what was suggested in Kaplan’s simple diagram on paragraph development, however, the distinctions in my case manifest themselves in different aspects, such as structure of body paragraphs, use of logical connectives, detachment from the subject, and authorial position. Moreover, there even exist commonalities between the Chinese and English writing conventions that I have learned, even though they occupy a small proportion compared to the differences. Because of these distinctions, my literacy development is primarily a process of learning and unlearning, adjusting myself to the different requirements of the two traditions of writing conventions. The determinism in contrastive rhetoric turns out to be disproved by my transition from a Chinese writing style to the English academic writing style.

My first language literacy development In general, my L1 literacy development is profoundly influenced by traditional Chinese and Marxist writing styles and the criteria of the composition section in the Chinese test of the National College Entrance Exam. They influenced me through reading activities in my preschool experience and the pedagogical activities of Chinese composition during my elementary and secondary school experience. I was raised in a monolingual family. Although my grandfather was a teacher of English before his retirement, I was not taught English systematically until I entered Grade Four in the elementary school. Before that, my English learning was limited to a couple of simple words. Thus, Chinese was the only language used in my family’s daily communication,

Beyond contrastive rhetoric


reading, and writing. As most of my family members used to be teachers, quite a few literate activities were involved in the daily life of my family. Due to traditional Chinese social conventions, being born in a family of teachers or scholars predicts that children should become highly literate and well educated. There is a Chinese idiom for describing this situation, 书香门第/A family filled up with the aroma of books. The activities were more about reading than writing. The reading materials which deeply influenced my first language literacy development were those ancient Chinese classics, such as The Analects and Annotation (Yang & Confucius, 1980), The Romance of Three Kingdoms (Luo, 1997), and Journey to the West (Wu, 1997). They represented a set of valued writing styles, for instance, observing the natural world and human society, capturing their essence, and bringing them out through lively language (see You, 2010, p. 142 for an explanation for how this relates to the traditional style). Confucius once said that people in his time studied for others’ admiration while people in older times studied for their natural interest (Yang & Confucius, 1980, p. 154). Thus, he criticized the aberrant social practices in his day and argued that the purpose of study should be self-realization rather than anything else. At that time, even though I was neither articulate nor aware of the writing styles, I thought good writing should look like the classics. This set of writing styles was inculcated by the in-class instructions, my Chinese teachers’ feedback on writing assignments, and passages in the Chinese textbooks used throughout my elementary school experience. If there was a display of acute observation of everyday life, vivid description on characters and scenes, and intriguing plots, the writing product would get a high score. If sensitivity to the essence of nature and human society was added, the product would be praised in class. Thus, my Chinese literacy development over the preschool and elementary school experience was influenced by these traditional Chinese writing conventions. I vaguely remember that one of my Chinese compositions in Grade Six fulfilled these conventions and earned a high score. The essay first talked about the scene of watching the moon at Mid-Autumn Festival, then moved on to discuss the connotations of the moon in Chinese culture (e.g. nostalgia, a pensive mood, loneliness), and finally reached the conclusion with connections between natural phenomena and their cultural conceptions. My teacher’s comment was that I did a wonderful job of capturing the connection between natural phenomena and their cultural and artistic conception. This experience further solidified my perception of good Chinese writing. When I entered high school, Marxist writing styles and requirements of writing in the Chinese national college entrance exam came into play as well, besides the traditional Chinese writing conventions (see You, 2010 for a description of these traditions). At that time, I began to be taught the argumentative essay. It is a special type of argumentative essay – i.e., narrative argumentative essay – that incorporates narrative and persuasive ele­ ments. We were explicitly taught by the Chinese teachers that, when writing this type of composition, we had better put the author’s position or thesis statement at the beginning of the essay because composition raters of the Chinese national college entrance exam preferred the “开门见山” style. This label literally means “to open the door and see the mountain.” The equivalent English expression for describing this writing style is “coming straight to the point.” This style may be indirectly bolstered by the fact that many ancient and modern Chinese persuasive essays using this writing style were selected by our text­ books. For example, Shi Shuo (Han, 2005), an ancient argumentative essay concerning the

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definition of a teacher, was widely anthologized. The author put his thesis statement at the very beginning of the whole essay and then developed the thesis from a variety of points in the following paragraphs. This style is akin to that of English expository writing, especially American academic writing that favors a deductive style. Taking moderate points of view was often favored when I was taught argumentative essays. The possible reason for this is that the traditional Chinese value system has exerted significant and profound influence on the ideology of Chinese people’s values, such as “Harmony” and “Moderateness” (Yang & Confucius, 1980, pp. 5–24) and stigmatization of extreme attitudes. Meanwhile, the Marxist writing style also put equally important emphasis on the choice of the middle position because of its belief that humans reach a comprehensive knowledge of the objective world through socio-culturally grounded, dia­ lectical reasoning (You, 2010, p. 143). Therefore, the middle position was expected by my teachers in argumentative essays, after we had considered all angles of the issue (such as the positives and negatives of the position). When it comes to the structure of body paragraphs, the conventions of Chinese writing taught by my Chinese teachers differed from that of English writing. According to what is taught, English writing emphasizes the schematic form of body paragraphs, in addition to that of the introductory paragraph. In contrast, there were few regulations on the structure of other parts of the Chinese narrative persuasive essay, besides the opening, in the instruc­ tions given by my Chinese teachers. And we were granted freedom to explore our thoughts and feelings in the body paragraphs. I remember that my Chinese teachers often used the following two Chinese idioms to praise the freely flowing style of writing: “行云流水” (“floating clouds and flowing water”) and “不拘一格” (“not sticking to one pattern”). One probable reason for this kind of instruction is that the ancient Chinese writing encourages writing as a communicative tool to represent nature. In this tradition one should follow the most natural way to express one’s thoughts and feelings, like water in an overflowing pool that flows along ditches and tunnels taking their shape (Zhou, 2001, p. 22). Another possible reason is that “eight-legged essays,” which demanded strict adherence to a particu­ lar fixed schematic form, were criticized harshly and discarded during the New Culture Movement. As a result, freedom to explore and express one’s thoughts and feelings has been greatly favored since then. As regards the National College Entrance Exam, it mostly favors certain established ideas and political correctness. In the first place, what is conveyed in composition should be positive and harmonious. I guess this is because “Harmony” has been consistently valued in the Chinese value system and the concept of “Harmonious Society” was put forward and greatly promoted by the government at that time. I clearly remember that my instructor criticized one of my essays in class just because it was a story about retaliation and, thus, it did not fit the “main tenor” of society and the National College Entrance Exam, even though she said other aspects of the composition were wonderful. From then on, I learned that composition needed to render positive influences on readers. Secondly, there should not be any words against the party and the government, even though pledging allegiance to the party already lost favor in the eyes of the Chinese teachers in the early 1990s (You, 2010, p. 140). In the Maoist period, writing products pledging allegiance to the Com­ munist party were popular and rated high. However, such writing was no longer expected after the 1990s. Nevertheless, ideas challenging the Communist party are not allowed even now in college composition.

Beyond contrastive rhetoric


My second language literacy development My L2 literacy development is basically a process of inheriting effective strategies from Chinese literacy, unlearning those which do not fit English writing, and learning new strategies useful in developing a hybrid discourse. The pedagogical activities on English writing that I once had during the period of high school and college in China were highly exam-oriented due to the existence of various kinds of English exams, such as the English test in the national college entrance exam, the Test for English Major (Level 4 and 8), TOEFL, and GRE. The writing sections of these exams all preferred the genre of argumentation and expected a deductive writing style. Therefore, an argumentative essay was frequently assigned to us, and a clear thesis state­ ment standing at the beginning of essay was demanded. Fortunately, the 开门见山 style that I had already learned when dealing with the Chinese narrative argumentative essay fit this writing style. Thus, I did not even have to adjust myself to the “new” writing style in terms of thesis statements. However, my experience of English literacy development was not without any obstacle since there exist some distinctions between Chinese and English writing conventions. The first challenge came from the demand for the mechanism of body paragraphs. Because of the requirement of essay form in English exams on the aspect of form of writing, especially a clear topic sentence for each paragraph and supporting reasons and evidence, a strong emphasis was placed on them in the corresponding exam-oriented pedagogical activities. The instructor for the course of English writing in my college drilled the structure into us by frequently assigning us tasks of producing topic sentences based on the information given in paragraphs or coming up with supporting reasons and evidence for given topic sentences. A “five-legged essay” paradigm (You, 2010, p. 149) was even introduced to help us perform well in exams. This structure involved an introductory paragraph with a clear thesis statement, three supporting paragraphs with convincing reasons and persuasive evi­ dence, and a concluding paragraph with reiteration of the thesis. This was greatly different from what had been introduced in my previous experience of learning Chinese writing, where we faced little constraint on the structure of paragraphs except for the introduc­ tory paragraph. Thus, in order to conform to the English writing conventions, I began to unlearn the expressive writing conventions acquired from Chinese compositions and switch to the far more mechanical writing style. Currently, the American academic com­ munity where I am studying also highly values such textual structures. I often need to pay adequate attention to making my writing accommodate the schematic form, both in the composing and the editing process. The second challenge originated from the requirement of logic. In my previous expe­ rience of learning Chinese writing, logic had rarely been mentioned by instructors and logical transition markers had been seldom expected. Relations between sentences and ideas had been suggested and implied rather than being connected by logical transitions. This could be the result of Chinese people’s preference in constructing and comprehending text and discourse. We prefer parataxis (Dai & Yang, 2011, p. 11) and resort to intuitive reasoning to achieving logical coherence. Besides, when learning Chinese writing, we had been allowed more freedom to explore our thoughts and feelings, which could flow in a landscape of whatever shape. However, when I learned English writing, particularly aca­ demic writing, logic, coherence, and clarity were highly valued and needed to be displayed

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explicitly in the text. I had to start learning a variety of methods, such as logical transitional markers, to organize my text in a clear and coherent way. Meanwhile, I needed to often remind myself that I could not compose my essay in a 行云流水 style. My teachers of English often assigned us cloze exercises to practice using transitional markers. In addi­ tion, in the guidelines of our English writing assignments, “logical coherence” was usually highlighted. All these things pushed me to become accustomed to using transitional mark­ ers in my English writing products. The third challenge was brought about by different attitudes to the incorporation of feelings and emotions in compositions as held by the conventions of Chinese and English writing. As mentioned above, when writing Chinese compositions, we were allowed free­ dom to explore and communicate our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, such as joy, excite­ ment, anxiety, and anger. The expression 真情实感 (“real sentiments”) was highlighted and reiterated by my Chinese teachers or the guidelines of composition tasks whenever we dealt with Chinese writing. But this was not the case for English writing, especially academic writing. All these feelings and emotions were discouraged particularly in English academic writing that favored a sober, rational, objective, and impersonal voice. Thus, when I composed English writing products, I started to withdraw myself from the effective strategies for displaying real sentiments. I avoided using evidence or examples from my life experience and started to use passive voice a lot in my English writing. This often called for a lot of attention both in the composing and the editing process. Now I sometimes still need to remind myself to restrain the feelings and emotions and keep a distance from my subject when writing academic essays. The final challenge results from different choices of author position. As mentioned previously, the middle position is often favored due to the influence of “Moderateness,” “Harmony” (Yang & Confucius, 1980, pp. 5–24), and the Marxist writing style in Chi­ nese. But I often need to clearly take a side in an English argumentative essay and academic writing. And sometimes possible counterarguments are even used as targets to attack in writing. Initially, I unconsciously picked middle positions when I just started to learn the English argumentative essay. However, I was warned by my English writing instructor several times to take a side instead of standing in the middle. I was caught in the struggle of becoming “extreme” or becoming “moderate” for a while. Later, I found a solution to this problem. I forced myself to pick a side and think about the negatives against the other sides. Gradually, I got rid of the habit of standing in the middle position. By now I am inclined to accommodate most of the English writing conventions, such as textual structures and logic. Nevertheless, I still do not feel totally comfortable with detaching myself from my own writing background. Sometimes, I even feel confused and upset about distancing myself from my early writing development. This probably is the result of the many years of practice in Chinese writing that values 真情实感 in written products. Therefore, I consciously or unconsciously add my personal feelings and emotion in my English writing. Because the English writing conventions highly value detachment and objectivity, I’m quite careful when attempting to infuse my writing with personal feelings and emotion, hedging them well. The TESL program I’m currently in demands various genres of writing, including the reflection journal, personal essay, lesson plan, critical literature review, and data analysis report. So far, I have tried to add my feelings in relatively informal and personal genres of writing, for example, the self-reflection essay. And I find that such a practice is not completely disapproved by the professors in my pro­ gram. But still I try not to make my personal feelings obvious in these genres of writing.

Beyond contrastive rhetoric


Perhaps the genres I have tried have more tolerance for personal feelings and emotion, and even resemble the Chinese writing conventions somewhat. In the near future, I would like to explore how much space is allowed for personal feelings and emotion in the relatively formal genres of writing, such as the critical literature review and data-driven research paper, in English writing.

Conclusion It has been at least five years since I said farewell to traditional Chinese writing. The lan­ guage I have been using in academic contexts since then is just English, as I majored in English in college and now study in the United States. And I have gradually gotten used to English writing conventions. Currently, I try to stick to them whenever I compose my English academic essays. I seem to value essays with clear structure, logic, rationality, and objectivity. I even unconsciously seek these features when reading both English and Chinese texts. My transition from Chinese writing styles to English academic writing styles may demonstrate that students can adjust to alternate structures introduced, though they have their preferred traditions and practices of text construction (Canagarajah, 2002, p. 64). As I seek ways to bring my Chinese influences into English, perhaps I may escape a one-sided assimilation into the new discourses (Berry, 1997, p. 9). In sum, there is consonance as well as conflict in my literacy development because of the commonality and distinctions between Chinese and English writing conventions. The conflicts are results of difference between Chinese and English cultures. This supports what Kaplan’s contrastive rhetoric hypothesis claims: “Rhetoric, then, is not universal either, but varies from culture to culture” (1966, p. 2). But, more importantly, my literacy development challenges his theory in the following aspects. First, surprisingly, Chinese writing also appreciates a direct and deductive writing style as English writing does, at least in certain sections of the essay. This feature challenges the circular style for representing the repetitive or redundant Oriental writing pattern theorized by Kaplan (1966, p. 15). Secondly, some differences emerge in different textual aspects, such as schematic form, use of logical connectors, detachment from subjects, and authorial position. Finally, my transition from a Chinese writing style to an English academic writing style disproves the deterministic side in contrastive rhetoric that implies that it is difficult for me to transition to the English style of writing. My literacy development is just an individual case which demonstrates some differences from the dominant hypotheses in contrastive rhetoric. However, it still suggests that the field of contrastive rhetoric probably needs to pay adequate attention to individual differ­ ences (shaped by personal preference, pedagogical activities received, and so forth) instead of over-generalizing different thinking and writing patterns merely based on different cultures or geographic locations.

References Berry, J.W. (1997). Immigration, acculturation, and adaptation. Applied Psychology:An International Review, 46, 5–68. Canagarajah, S. (2002). Critical academic writing and multilingual students. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Dai,W. P., & Yang,W. D. (2011). China English: Its distinctive features. Higher Education Studies, 1, 8–13.

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Han,Y. (2005). New standard high school Chinese textbook:Volume one. Beijing: People’s Education Press.

Kaplan, R. B. (1966). Cultural thought pattern in inter-cultural education. Language Learning, 16, 1–20.

Luo, G. Z. (1997). The romance of three kingdoms. Beijing: Minzu University of China Press.

Wu, C. E. (1997). Journey to the west. Beijing: People’s Literature Publishing House.

Yang, B. J., & Confucius. (1980). The analects and annotation. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company.

You, X. Y. (2010). Writing in the devil’s tongue: A history of English composition in China. Carbondale:

Southern Illinois University Press. Zhou,Y. L. (2001). Guyu wenti de sikao. Jiansu Jiaoyu, 23, 22–25.




Xiaoqing Ge

The contrastive rhetoric tradition perceives rhetorical features as distinct to each language and culture. Differences between the discourse-level features of a learner’s first and second language are considered to result in difficulties for second language learners when they acquire discourse-level patterns in their second languages. As Kaplan (1966) once put it: Logic (in the popular, rather than the logician’s sense of the word) which is the basis of rhetoric is evolved out of a culture; it is not universal. Rhetoric, then, is not uni­ versal either, but varies, from culture to culture and even from time to time within a given Culture. It is affected by canons of taste within a given culture at a given time. (p. 2) From this perspective, people from different culture are considered to express their thought differently. English, as Kaplan (1966) discussed, has its distinct linear nature of English expository prose. However, Chinese may prefer a circular way of presenting an idea, which is far from being direct and explicit as in the English language (see Yang & Dai, 2011). Reflecting on my first language and additional language literacy development, I find that Kaplan’s hypothesis on contrastive rhetoric is justified to some extent only. Moreover, I think my case of literacy development complements his hypothesis in other aspects, as in the different orientation we adopt to plagiarism and citations. There were also many other influences on our writing besides culture, such as the Marxist ideology that was influential in China. Besides, thanks to my high sensitivity to the target language conventions and their differences from native language writing conventions, I have relatively smoothly shuttled between distinct writing conventions of different languages.

My Chinese literacy development in childhood I grew up at my grandparents’ house in Beijing, together with my cousin. I was immersed in the charming atmosphere of traditional culture since I was a little kid. As my grandfa­ ther was a writer and calligrapher himself, he used to read and write a lot every day. Even

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though at that time I had no idea what he was reading, I have vivid memories that he had a lot of books on different topics on his bookshelves. He sometimes read and took notes from the book, and sometimes he simply wrote on his notebook. I grew up in this environment full of writing and books. When I went to elementary school, I started learning how to read and write. Besides the homework I had, my grandfather also required me and my cousin to write a diary every day when we went back home. As a child at the age of seven who had just started schooling, I really hated the extra homework my grandfather assigned me every day. I did not believe there was something really interesting happening in my daily routine. What I wrote was nothing special or new. Day by day, I wrote almost the same thing, considering it boring and insipid. And so did my cousin. However, my grandfather did not blame us at all when he read our diaries. Instead, he showed us his own diary that he wrote when he was young. Although, considering the Chinese literacy level that I was at during that time, I was not able to fully understand his writing, I did learn from his own diary that there must be something special, either interesting, hilarious, or sad happening in our daily life that added color to our daily routine. And the reason why we had nothing in our mind when we wrote was because we did not even notice and pay attention to the things hap­ pening around us. From that day on, I began to pay more attention to the people I knew and the things that took place around me. Moreover, I cared more about the details, such as people’s appearance, personality, reactions, or emotions. And all this became the new fantastic materials that I used to write in my diary, which generally broadened the content of my writing and developed the depth of my thinking. As a result of this writing practice, my essays during elementary school were considered as models for the whole class. I felt that the reason why my essays were favored by my teacher was mainly because of the Marxist style of writing that guided our composition instruction. It requires “acute observation of everyday life and sensitivity to the essence of the objective world – all virtues of the Marxist style” (You, 2010, p. 141). Therefore, as You (2010) further claims, “In our praxis, we must mobilize our eyes, ears, noses, tongues, and bodies and take detailed notes of the materials for writing” (p. 110). This was exactly what I learned from my grandfather of how to write a diary, and this is what I practiced every day when I observed the world and wrote. Another feature influenced by my grandfather was taking notes from the texts I read. I had a lot of notebooks filled with sentences and paragraphs that I selected from the books or magazines I read. I normally wrote down sentences that were rhetorically beautiful and which might contain lots of metaphors or nicely organized phrases. For instance, this is one of the typical sentences I wrote in my notebook: 淡淡素笺,浓浓墨韵,典雅的文字,浸染尘世情怀;悠悠岁月,袅袅茶香,别致的杯 盏,盛满诗样芳华;云淡风轻,捧茗品文,灵动的音符,吟唱温馨暖语;春花秋月, 红尘阡陌,放飞的思绪,漫过四季如歌。读一段美文,品一盏香茗,听一曲琴音,拾 一抹心情。 The main idea of the sentence is simple. It refers to the state of mind when people read elegant prose, drink a cup of fragrant and sweet tea, or listen to the beautiful sound of the piano. However, the writer used a lot of rhetorical devices and flowery expressions to describe the feeling, making it beautiful and delicate. Therefore, the more I wrote and

Shuttling between languages and rhetorics


read, the more I also memorized. Accordingly, it was natural for me to use these phrases and styles in my own writing, adopting the words, phrases, or sentences for a new context. Thus, the language I wrote turned out to be vivid, which also resembles certain elements of the Marxist style of writing. According to You (2010), “one needed to bring out new observations and new opinions after careful investigation of the subject matter and to make skillful use of vocabulary, syntactic structures, and rhetorical devices” (p. 112). As I wrote down and memorized the sentences or phrases that were rhetorically beautiful and elegant, when I used these sentences and adjusted them to the new context where I was writing, the text appeared more elegant. The following example was one paragraph I wrote in my notebook: “你知晓,要历经凤凰涅槃般的炼狱。但命运如此,使你不得不奋力挣扎,冲破那束 缚的躯壳: 挣脱—翩飞。残风恶、骤雨狂,泯灭你点点的热望。世情恶、 欢情薄,扼 杀你声声的企盼。驻足、惋叹,怨也好、恨也罢, 仍念着那片无羁无绊的天际。只 盼那残存的希冀,能换来你翩飞的姿影 娇美的笑靥。也只愿,那顷刻的自由与宁 谧,能擦干你的泪痕,抚展你的眉弯。就这样翩翩起舞,在你的梦苑。” The general meaning of this paragraph is that a person who compared himself/herself to a caterpillar finally realizes his/her dream after overcoming a substantial amount of difficulties.

My German literacy development at college As I was more interested in words rather than numbers and statistics and had always earned better grades in English and Chinese since elementary school, I chose to study language as my undergraduate major. Unlike most of the students who chose to study English as their major, which they were familiar with and had learned for many years, I decided to study German language and literature as my undergraduate major. I was able to read newspapers, webpages, and novels in German and could gain general comprehension of the content through the intensive instruction I received. In terms of writing in German, as a beginning to intermediate/high-level learner, I did not have for­ mal instruction on real German writing. My classmates and I were not required to write complex texts. The foremost purpose of our writing practice was focused on practicing appropriate word choice and correct grammar use. There was little instruction of German writing style or conventions besides what we normally wrote, for instance, narratives, fictional stories, or summaries of texts. This was what I wrote when I learned German in my first semester: Weil ich mich Sprache interessiere, entscheidet mich dafür, eine neue Sprach wie Deutsch zu lernen. Ich meine, dass je mehr Spache ich beherrsche, desto besser ich die Welt verstehen könnte. Jetzt möchte ich am liebsten etwas im chinesisch-deutsch Kulturaustauch machen, weil ich viele Menschen kennenlernen und die Welt sehen und auch viel erleben möchte. I remember that this was a short paragraph about my future plan, which I wrote when I had just learned the relative clause. I stated that I decided to learn a new language, German,

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because I am interested in languages. I thought that the more languages I knew, the better I could understand the world. I wanted to do something about Chinese-German cultural exchange because I wanted to know more people, see the world, and experience life. Another example is a short paragraph of one fairy tale I wrote in my second year at col­ lege. In this paragraph, we were required to use past tense to write a fictional story. Er war einmal ein König in Heiderberg. Im Laufen der Zeit wurde er älter. Aber der arme König hatte keine Kinder, die sein Land beherrschen zu können. Zulezt, entschied er, ein Kind in seinem Land zu wählen und das wurde zu König erzogen. In this paragraph, I wrote about a king in Heidelberg. He became elderly when years passed by. However, the poor king did not have a child who could govern the city. Finally, he decided to choose a child from the city who would be the king in the future. From the above writing samples, it is obvious that my writing practice at that time was more a way to practice using the new language. Therefore, in this process, I quickly real­ ized that my native language writing conventions and style were acceptable to my German composition instructor, for there were no strict requirements in the instruction. The main purpose of our writing was to practice using the language. Thus, I applied my preferred styles to my German writing.

My English literacy development at graduate school Due to distinct writing conventions in the United States, I encountered a few obstacles on my way to English literacy development. The transition from Chinese and German writ­ ing to American academic writing created a deep impression in me. A shocking realization was the different criteria applied in English for textual citation and plagiarism. Neverthe­ less, I think I managed to cross from the previous writing conventions to the current ones well because of my high self-awareness of the target styles. This is justified by the claim by Canagarajah (2002) that successful multilingual learners have a conscious awareness of learning strategies to further their language learning. My proficiency in Chinese and Ger­ man provided me deep language awareness to handle the challenges in English. A huge obstacle I encountered in English was the high demand of logic in American academic essays. When I wrote Chinese essays, I tended to focus more on the language itself. I considered the flowery words and sentences I wrote as the most essential elements in my writing. Also, as I had the habit of writing down the sentences that were rhetorically beautiful and might contain lots of metaphors or nicely organized phrases, I knew what was considered elegant and graceful in Chinese. I took it for granted that these fancy and flowery sentences could also be viewed as excellent if I wrote them in my English academic essays. However, I realized that academic writing in English requires logic, coherence, and clarity. The expected convention of an academic essay is not mainly focused on the deli­ cacy and elegance of the language itself, but more importantly, the meaning and the logic of the passage. As Yang and Dai (2011) stated: Due to different ways of thinking, English people attach more attention to hypotaxis and tend to use logical connectives in making a grammatical connection when there is more than one independent clause. There is scarcely any English sentence without

Shuttling between languages and rhetorics


a clause. On the contrary, Chinese prefer parataxis and they resort to reasoning for achieving logical coherence. To them, sometimes, the logical relation between two sentences is self-evident that can be sensed and comprehended, so connective-free sentences exist in Chinese. (p. 11) To cope with the rhetorical difference, I attempted to adapt the same strategy I used in my native language writing, namely, learning from model texts. Different from what I did with the model texts in Chinese, which I wrote down and memorized, I learned from the model texts in English mainly to see how the main idea or theme is developed. Gradually, as I read more model texts, I found that the organization of ideas followed a deductive orientation. The author displays his/her essential perspective on the issue in question at the beginning of the essay then writes how he/she reaches certain conclusions. My awareness of the strategy made me learn the target conventions effectively and efficiently. Instead of writing in the way I did in Chinese (i.e. developing ideas indirectly and rarely using logical connectors), I paid attention to the linearity and logic of my writing products. As Green and Oxford (1995) stated: “the more successful students have a reflexive awareness of the strategies that work for them and they build on them” (p. 262). The second obstacle I experienced in American academic writing is the schematic form of texts. From my point of view, academic writing in English looks more like the Chinese ancient eight-legged essay, which imposes a rigid control structure on the whole text – for instance, the “top-down” organization, in which the writer usually writes the thesis at the beginning and then adds following points to support the main point, then a summary consists of all the supporting points in a conclusion at the end. This resemblance to the eight-legged essay shows how writing in different cultures might have similarities. However, according to the instructions that I received when dealing with contempo­ rary Chinese writing, I did not think that Chinese had a strict regulation of the schematic form of texts. Therefore, I learned from the model texts, such as research papers and scholarly articles, about their schematic form, structure, and organization. For example, I found most of the journal articles that I read in applied linguistics tended to follow the same schematic form of writing. I remember the first time I wrote a literature review for five journal articles concerning grammar learning strategies. I found that the five articles all consisted of the followings parts in them: introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. Hence, when I was required to write my own research paper later that semester in another course, I followed the same schematic form of writing. It turned out that my paper was appreciated a lot. Besides the discourse-level challenges, what made me confused in my first semester when I studied in the United States is the definition of plagiarism. In Chinese writing, I read and memorized a lot. From reading the classic master works, I not only gained knowledge but also learned the language writers used in their writing. For me, the way of imitating and adapting was to reorganize and reconstruct the text as a new one. And even in this way, the “new” texts would still be regarded as “integrated borrowing, in which the student imbeds others’ phrases or sentences here and there in his or her own text without proper acknowledgement” (Shei, 2005, p. 99). For example, it is a norm that Chinese students are expected to borrow or integrate those rhetorically beautiful phrases and sentences in their own writing without using quotation marks or attribution, as Shei

240 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

(2005) found in his own teaching experience. Therefore, I felt extremely confused when the American instructor asked me to refer to APA style for citation. I did not know the reason why citation was strictly required in every single piece of paper I wrote, nor how to follow the APA style citation. As a result, I chose not to follow the rules and just wrote in the way I did in Chinese in my first course assignment. However, later I was told by the instructor that I should provide the names of the authors of the words or sentences if these were not mine. Even though I made adaption to these sentences, I still needed to provide the original source for the legal citation. Fortunately, as it was the first time that I was practicing America academic writing conventions, I did not get punished for it. There might be other reasons why I had difficulty understanding citation practices. Chinese rhetorical practices are seen as “consistent with a language that requires memoriz­ ing characters and phrases and with a culture that values the harmony of the group over the desires of the individual” (Matalene, 1985, p. 804). It is true that Chinese writing values harmony with the group. The Western culture seems to value is individualism. Matalene further notes, This citing references, as Gregg notes, is a cultural practice based on individual­ ism; Western readers want the information that enables them to continue their own inquiries. And Western writers want careful credit for their own ideas, for their own unique inventions. (Matalene, 1985, p. 803)

Inspiration from my literacy development English language learners come from different countries, with different cultural back­ grounds, different linguistic rhetorical features, and different conventions of writing. Get­ ting to know the contrastive rhetorical issues inherent in students’ culture can help ESL teachers know and understand the influential factors that shaped their way of thinking and writing in English, thus making the instruction more focused and more effective. How­ ever, instructors must not assume that multilingual students cannot transition to other styles of writing. Looking back upon my literacy development, it is obvious that I had experienced prob­ lems from contrasting rhetorics when I learned American academic writing. However, I found ways and strategies to cope with the problem. With a firm belief in my ability to succeed in studies, and my clear understanding of what I could do well and could not do well and the ability to act to solve the problem accordingly, I succeeded in my literacy challenges. It seemed to me that my love for language and my faith in my ability to learn languages helped me overcome the difficulties I once faced in developing my literacy. Thanks to my high sensitivity to learning strategies, developed as a multilingual, I overcame my obsta­ cles relatively well. And this success in literacy development then appeared to reshape my personal development and personal interest in what I am studying now. They have allowed me to explore more about language and literacy in a new position – i.e., as an ESL teacher. Therefore, as a future ESL teacher, I hope my own learning experiences of the three lan­ guages can shed light on the challenges other students might be facing. I am in a position to help other ESL learners in their own writing tasks. ESL teachers can provide helpful

Shuttling between languages and rhetorics


suggestions on the use of strategies and self-awareness in language learning to overcome contrasting rhetorics. As Green and Oxford’s study (1995) found: Effective L2 learners are aware of the strategies they use and why they use them. They manage to tailor their strategies to the language task and to their own personal needs as learners. Students who are less successful at language learning are likewise able to identify their own strategies; however, they do not know how to choose the appropriate strategies or how to link them together into a useful strategy chain. (p. 262) Additionally, writing teachers should be encouraged to teach these effective learning strategies to ESL learners so that they can apply these strategies in their own learning. As O’Malley, Chamot, Stewner-Manzanares, Russo, and Küpper (1985) suggested, “the learning strategies of good language learners, once identified and successfully taught to less competent learners, could have considerable potential for enhancing the development of second language skills” (p. 557). My literacy development conveys to me that successful learning strategies, such as the adoption of models, practice, critical observation, and selfawareness, can help ESL students overcome challenges from contrasting rhetorics.

References Canagarajah, A. S. (2002). Critical academic writing and multilingual students. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press and English Language Teaching. Green, J. M., & Oxford, R. (1995). A closer look at learning strategies, L2 proficiency, and gender. TESOL Quarterly, 29(2), 261–297. Kaplan, R. B. (1966). Cultural thought patterns in inter-cultural education. Language Learning, 16(1–2), 1–20. Matalene, C. (1985). Contrastive rhetoric:An American writing teacher in China. College English, 47(8), 789–808. O’Malley, J. M., Chamot, A. U., Stewner-Manzanares, G., Russo, R. P., & Küpper, L. (1985). Learning strategy applications with students of English as a second language. TESOL Quarterly, 19(3), 557–584. Shei, C. (2005). Plagiarism, Chinese learners and Western convention. Taiwan Journal of TESOL, 2(1), 97–113. Yang,W. D., & Dai,W. P. (2011). China English: Its distinctive features. Higher Education Studies, 1(2), 8. You, X. (2010). Writing in the devil’s tongue:A history of English composition in China. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.



A personal journey Eunjeong Lee

Voice in written texts is a complicated concept, as many researchers have accounted for it in a variety of ways. However, the most common way in which voice is understood in pedagogical contexts is probably from an expressionistic and individualistic perspec­ tive (Tardy, 2012). This individual aspect of voice is understood as the author’s authentic voice, uniquely deriving from personal sociohistorical backgrounds, style, or stance toward the content of the subject matter (Elbow, 1968, 2007; Ramanathan & Atkinson, 1999). Indeed, studies show that both student writers and writing instructors identify voice as something unique and authentic to the author, which is translated into his or her writing ( Jeffery, 2011; Petrić, 2010). From this perspective, voice is therefore often associated with the author’s literal voice (i.e., the real voice of the author) in the text. However, scholarship on voice has adopted contemporary critical theories to develop more complex perspectives. For example, voice in written text has been examined from the social-constructionist perspective with emphasis on authors’ normative use of language in their own community (Hyland, 2008, 2012; Ivanič, 1998). That is, scholars examining voice from social-constructionist perspective argue that the voice of a written text is con­ structed in a way that reflects the values and practices in a given discipline that the writer or the writing belongs to. The voice is constructed by writers within a range of possible discoursal subjectivity options that are appropriate in the given social context or rhetorical genre. Both of the two dimensions discussed so far rightly capture different aspects of voice. To these two dimensions of individual and social aspects of voice, the social-constructivist view adds another valuable insight. From the social-constructivist perspective, voice is described as emergent from a dialogic result of individual and social co-construction (Ivanič, 1998; Matsuda, 2001). It is neither solely the individual nor only the social that influences the construction of voice, but the interaction between the two is what contrib­ utes to the effect of voice. All three approaches are insightful in investigating the multi-layered nature of voice. Yet, the dialogical view of voice touches upon a significant aspect of voice construction in a written discourse in that it includes the important role of readers in the construction of

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voice. This is particularly true, considering rhetorical contexts that every writer is situated in: Writers are always cast in multiple relationships with readers, the genre, and the topic in any writing situation. In this sense, the dialogical account for voice is quite valuable, providing a holistic account of how voice is constructed during the process of reading a text. More importantly, although these accounts, including the social-constructivist view of voice, provide a conceptual model for constitution of voice, these three accounts do not provide explanation for how one develops awareness of voice, which can be particularly an important issue for multilingual writers. We need more studies on how multilingual students negotiate competing languages and discourses for voice. This chapter attempts to contribute to the current understanding of voice and its con­ struction by discussing how a novice writer learns to construct voice. To do so, this chap­ ter explores my literacy development as empirical evidence, as autobiographic narratives can provide rich details about how people experience their language learning (Pavlenko, 2007). More specifically, my literacy history explicates how my voice in writing results from (re)constructing and negotiating who I am: a woman who was once “shushed” out, a daughter of immigrant parents, an international graduate student, and an ESL teacher in the US. In addition, I describe in detail below how my progressive understanding of writ­ ing influenced the awareness and construction of my written voice.1 Finally, I conclude by discussing implications of my development of writing to the discussion of voice.

Literacy in Korean as a girl in Korea Writing did not have much meaning to me when I thought of the relationship between me and writing during my high school years. If I had to give it a meaning, it was some special gift that those talented people were naturally born with, in which case it did not include me. Therefore, when I heard in graduate school that we, those of us who are in academia, are all writers, I cringed. After many years of yearning and struggles, however, writing became an inseparable part of my identity. My voice in academic writing in English was most significantly influenced by my non­ academic, personal experience as a girl in Korea. Looking back, my childhood literacy experience was filled with silence. I was always a quiet and shy girl when I was young. I grew up listening to my father saying women are not supposed to raise their voice; when relatives got together and talked, I was shushed because I was kyejibae.2 As in other patriarchal societies, the only person who could raise one’s voice was men; when it came to an important decision-making moment, the person who decided the matter was older male in the family. All that women had to do in my family, including my extended fam­ ily, was agree to whatever decision was made. Being quiet seemed to be a kind of vir­ tue that was expected of every girl. My parents, relatives, and teachers praised me for never asking “why” for whatever was imposed on me. I was good at saying “yes” to things but did not know how to say “no” or if it is even possible to say “no.” Those who said “no” were bad girls, women, daughters, and wives. Being submissive in silence was interpreted as the foremost positive value in many gender roles that Korean women were willing to take upon themselves. My “good-girl-never-questions” attitude continued while I was in high school. And it became even more severe when I survived through the hypercompetitive educational environment in Korea that focused on the college entrance exam – so much so that both domestic and international media refer to it as “fervor” or

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“obsession” – without a single complaint. Some “bad” teenagers were rebelling against the unidirectional, teacher-centered, and exam-oriented education system in Korea by writing essays in the newspaper or dropping out of school. Yet, the majority of students behaved as the society wanted. I was one of many who would be remembered as “the quiet girl” and therefore a “good” student. By the end of my high school, I refused to speak up even more because of a stigmatized label that I acquired. My parents’ divorce added another tag on who I am and how I could be perceived by others. In addition to a quiet one, I earned another identity, namely a girl from an “abnormal” family. Back then, divorce was something that was not common nor could be openly discussed in the patriarchal society of Korea. I became distinguished, unintentionally, and so did my mom. My mom and I were automatically classified as the “resistant ones” by the social norm: someone that is not normal and someone that other girls should avoid any social contact with. Yet, we were still quiet and only rebelled against the social label by keeping ourselves quieter and more “normal.” When hanging out with my friends, I pretended that my father was away at work because a fatherless child, espe­ cially a fatherless girl, was unthinkable. They are stigmatized as ill-educated, ill-mannered, and futureless children. I started noticing rebellious thoughts about my self-image of “a good girl and daughter” and the discriminative social perception on divorced women in Korea slowly growing inside of me. I did not dare attempt to express my secret to anybody, not even acknowledging it to myself because patience and perseverance were the virtues that I was expected to display. With my mom habitually saying, Success will solve everything. Do not make yourself look or sound deviant from oth­ ers until then. Do not disagree with normal people. Just be one of many, you know, the normal ones. People don’t like those who disagree and think differently. I lived a fake life. I tried to become a normal person, whatever that means, with fake femininity, fake submission to authority, and a daughter in a fake happy family – kujo nam­ dul chorum 3 as my mom often says to herself and me. My image as a quiet and silent girl that I gained from my gender identity hugely influ­ enced my social identity and literacy practice in college. When I entered college, I contin­ ued keeping everything the same as in high school. I was still quiet and never questioned much, which seems to be ironic now, considering that the aim of higher education is to get people to practice critical-thinking skills and contribute to building a better society. I may have been a diligent student, but I was never an “engaged” student who had any sense of community. This lack of orientation and membership negatively influenced my literacy practice in college. There was almost no discussion with my professors in the department, all of whom were male, on my future plans or academic concerns because I was never com­ fortable talking with them. Without any guidance or formal education in writing, I sub­ mitted papers that would have been considered as plagiarism without sensing any problem as no one else did, including my professors. I read and wrote for the sake of reading and writing so that I could study for an exam and do homework. The term “critical think­ ing” existed in order to answer a question or problem in the book, but not in the world outside the book. Simple memorization of information as a learning method continued even in college. Questioning only existed in my head and in my book just to confirm pre­ determined answers rather than discover a new way of understanding the subject matter

Reconstructing voice


based on critical thinking. More importantly, questions were something that only profes­ sors were able to ask students. Raising a hand to ask a question was unthinkable because it was considered as a challenge to the professors’ intelligence and quality of lectures. The only thinking that I developed was how to memorize a math problem or an experiment for Chemistry and Biology labs. My problem-solving skills were limited inside the given cases in the books and did not extend to real life.

Literacy in English as a daughter of immigrants When I came to the US for graduate school, the experience that I had in the first year that I was living with my parents in Texas started shaping my unique understanding of what it means to be literate in another language in a foreign country: power. That said it all. A lot of what my parents and their fellow immigrants were going through while living in a foreign country was a type of social injustice in one way or another. Because of the fact that my parents could not read or communicate well enough in English, there were many incidents where they had been taken advantage of or discriminated against. For instance, they received the same bill twice and paid twice without realizing that the company sent the bill accidentally; they received a credit card in the mail that they did not intend to apply for with a new balance to pay. In this circumstance, I became their representative. Whenever there was a complaint or an argument – whether it was as small as phone bills or as big as a legal issue – I came along with my parents. I became the one who solved the problem and served as their channel for communication with others. I was the one who was able to read the bill and write the checks. I developed a keen sense for picking out scam letters such as looking for terms of conditions written in a small font or looking up the senders of the letter online. I helped write descriptions on the menu for the restaurant my parents owned. Things that would have been taken for granted if I had been in Korea, namely reading and writing, meant something special here. Although my writing was rather limited, the impact was still magnificent. English was the language of power to my family, and particularly to me, a woman, as many female immigrants often make note of in their language-learning trajectory (Blackledge, 2001; Pavlenko, 2001). All of the things that I experienced as a daughter of immigrants who speak “broken” English made me realize the power of literacy. All the injustice and disadvantage that my parents and other immigrants in Texas had to endure as a “bad” speaker or reader of English made me more conscious about my own literacy. It was the magic that transitioned me from “the voice­ less” to “the speaker.” While I became a “proud” English speaker, my voice was still not appreciated at home. Just when I was about to enjoy the pride that I found through my newly found public voice, I found out that I still had to be a quiet daughter in my family who can only listen. Although my parents emigrated from Korea a long time ago, their mind was still dwelling on the patriarchal idea of how a woman should behave in society. Immigrating into a new country in their advanced life did not change their values much; rather, their experience in the US seemed to make their beliefs on gender roles and ideology even more conserva­ tive. “Hankuk saram-un”4 was how my parents often started a sentence. Therefore, slight changes in my perception on gender roles in the US did not register with my parents who had different gender ideologies. I was the representative of the family in public, without my own opinion. I could not communicate with them as an equally qualified conversation

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participant, but as a listener. After all, I was nobody, not worth listening to and underqualified to have my own opinion until I have my husband and children. Outside our pri­ vate sphere, my voice echoed my parents, and sometimes I had to stifle my mother’s voice for my step-father’s. I wanted to be “I,” and I was asked to say “we.” I became more aware of two different selves that I had – and an increasing discrepancy between both. In my own language, I was powerless, but in my English-speaking world, I was free as I wished to be when I left Korea.

Academic literacy: encountering a voiceless one While I became more sensitive about my ability to use linguistic resources in English, my inability to avoid gender roles in my family made me seek English more, yet with some challenges. I was one of the loudest and most active participants in discussions in my ESL classes during the day, as if I could compensate for those moments with my parents where I could not say a single word for myself. Then, I turned back to a quiet daughter who pretends to passively accept whatever my parents’ value at home – like the young girl who never said “no.” Unlike in my oral communication class where I was actively talking with others, however, I was still quiet in my writing class. This came to me as a big shock. My natural disposition toward writing was not a positive one. I could not figure out whether my discomfort toward writing originated from my less developed English writing ability or Korean writing ability, as I was not a confident writer in Korean also. Finding some­ thing interesting to write about was the most challenging part for me. Katherine, who was my writing teacher at the ESL program in which I was enrolled, often asked us to think about social or political issues popular at that time either in Korea or in the U.S. This was a big challenge for me, whose identity existed only within a family relation, not as a social one. Most of the times when I had a writing assignment, I procrastinated until the last min­ ute, only thinking about what could sound interesting to others (because nothing sounded interesting to me!). My writing was shapeless; I did not know what to write about, where to start, and when to finish. The fear to write continued and only incremented after I started my graduate school program. It was in one of the graduate courses in the English department during the very first semester in my school. My vision was getting blurry, and my heart was beating fast. I looked around to see if anybody else heard my heartbeats. All of my right fingers were busy picking on my thumb, and my left hand was tapping on my lap, trying to get rid of the sweat that constantly made my palm clammy. I could not hear anything, and my eyes were fixated on my paper. “Saussure and structuralism. Such a stupid title,” I talked to myself inside my head. The shouting in my head sounded more desperate. “I want to go home. Should I pretend that I got really sick?” Soon, I found myself sitting in front of my classmates and the professor, about to share the worst writing in the history. Then, black. I did not remember anything. All I remembered afterward was the feeling of bitterness, self-degradation, and lots of doubt that I might not be the right person to pursue a graduate degree in anything, let alone English. It did not take long to re-encounter the doubt that lurked around a corner of my mind. A few days passed since the night of humiliation in my critical theory class, and I received a lot of comments on my very first academic paper in my Master’s program. This time, if nothing else, the reasons behind my fear became clearer. The professor rightly pointed out

Reconstructing voice


the problem of my “authorless” paper. My paper came back to me with a lot of question marks asking, “What is your stake on this?” “What is your position?” or “What are you trying to say?” As Raimes (1985) found out in her study, I was one of those “unskilled” writers who did not have a complex view of writing. I did not consider who my reader was but tried to write for my own understanding. The fact that I did not consider my writing from others’ perspectives baffled me tremendously. At that very moment, I faced who I was to others – a woman who is afraid to raise her voice. With everything that I went through with a “male” presence in my family and escaping from the society which forces women to be submissive to whatever standard that was imposed on them, the critical incident that I had in my literary theory course struck me as enlightening, and at the same time shame­ ful. What I was looking at was not my paper; there was not “me” in my paper. What I saw was a woman who stands aside and stays silent. Although I thought I found a new identity, a new language, a new space, and new everything to start afresh in a new city, I myself did not know what it meant to have a new self in a new community.

Constructing a voice: somewhere between avoidance and accommodation One thing that I knew for sure from this embarrassing incident was that I needed to change. Ever since, I have tried everything that I could to bring “me” back, or construct “me” in my writing, although I did not know what that actually meant. I only had one goal, namely, sounding like an American writer. Writing felt like a war to me, and I was a person who was just thrown into a battlefield without any knowledge or experience. I was nervous every day; I did not think that I was critical enough to judge academic writing, let alone judge native speakers’ writing samples. The term “critical thinking” was still new to me. Now that I reflect on it, my writing strategy seems to have been a combination of avoidance and accommodation as Canagarajah (2002) describes various strategies for negotiat­ ing one’s voice in writing. I certainly avoided any rhetorical features of my native language, Korean, such as a less direct way of arguing, not showing a clear connection between ideas, and heavy use of formal language. Without a single thought or doubt, I neglected rhetori­ cal conventions in Korean, not knowing what this might lead to regarding my voice in writing in the future. More than that, I avoided anything written or spoken in Korean as if it were an “interference,” in the way earlier researchers in applied linguistics had treated first language as a bad influence. Instead, I worshipped the St. Martin Handbook as if it had every solution that both my students and I needed. I regularly attended workshops for teaching assistants for the First-Year Composition program and listened to issues that other TAs were dealing with. I imitated a template suggested by the department while giving comments to students’ papers. More importantly, I became a keen observer of how things were said or done as well as what was said in writing. I analyzed so-called “good writing” recommended in the department and secretly analyzed how the author did what she did in her writing and tried it myself. Slowly, I learned and became socialized into the discourse promoted in the English department. In my efforts to accommodate my writing to sound “American,” I paid attention to the personality of the authors that emerged from my reading of texts, most of which sounded masculine, cynical, argumentative, and aggressive. I imagined a person who sounded quite aggressive and opinionated – like how my professor’s comments on my papers sounded

248 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

to me. At first, I felt extremely uncomfortable about the image that I invented because I thought the paper might have sounded too aggressive and offensive. Although I was eager to create a voice in my papers, I felt quite detached from the voice that I had in my writing. However, I did not like the voice I had in the writing. The effort to transition myself into “a writer” seemed to start working; students gave me a high ranking on the quality of the comments, and nobody seemed to notice how strong, direct, or odd, as I felt my comments sounded. When I asked my native speaker friends in the English department, all I heard from them was: “It all sounds fine to me!” Also, my papers started receiving better grades with comments such as “very clear” and “thorough analysis, well articulated.” While read­ ing numerous papers on a variety of topics written by native speaking undergraduate stu­ dents with different writing skills, I gradually began to feel as if I finally had access to the secret path to “good writing” in my hand for the first time in my life. More importantly, this was the time that I realized “writers create an impression of themselves – a discoursal self – through the discourse choice they make as they write, which align them with socially available subject positions” (Ivanič, 1998, p. 32). The academic voice was not something that people were necessarily and naturally born with; it was something that writers construct and invent. My imagined author image as an aggressive person that I built gained a very personal and authentic meaning. In my second year of the English program, I furiously read in an American literature class, and I fell in love with some of the readings that the class had. I admired Marianne Hirsch, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldúa, and many other female writers for their struggle that they had as a woman and a writer. Reading about their struggle and pain gave me a sense of community for the first time since I came to the US, reminding me of what I went through in Korea and the US. In addition, the readings from these schol­ ars taught me how I needed to “come to voice” while being subject, not object (hooks, 1989, p. 12). What hooks said came to me as a refreshing shock. I should not be waiting for someone to come and talk to me and tell me what was wrong with my writing. Or there was no reason to think my ideas are not logical, not worth exploring, or not valu­ able. I should be an agent with my own perspective and intention, not limited to aiming to sound “American.” With the sense of community and the lesson I learned, I started enjoying having a strong voice. More than that, their writing became a new model for my own. After the simple change of mindset, I did not feel too aggressive or uncomfortable while being critical in student writings. “Critical” was not a bad word any more. I finally understood what it means to be critical and yet, gentle, keeping what I have with me. The new understanding of what “critical” means changed the way I viewed the world. Once I realized this, there was no way that I could not think critically. This change in my view also brought changes in my attitude toward my own writing. I felt more sensitive to how I sounded in my paper and more responsible for what I said in my paper. I did not have to write to please my male literary theory professor anymore whenever I wrote my paper, self-critiquing my writing based on his liking. Yet, I still kept his presence at the corner of my mind as my critical reader and potential audience among many others. The concept of the audience, which merely played a role of proofreading to cover my non-native, voiceless identity, came into bigger existence when I wrote now. At the same time, my writing process became more complicated, reiterative, and processoriented. I spent more time revising my paper than the time spent on actual writing, appropriating and negotiating back and forth. I spent half of my entire writing process in a

Reconstructing voice


writing center where most of my friends in the English department were tutoring. There was a day when I pondered where to put the comma for a better flow for over 30 minutes. Also, I started paying a great deal of attention to rhetoric as well as content in my paper. I studied how to control the strength, attitude, and stance of my voice, perusing every instance of what could possibly change my voice such as epistemic stance, affective stance, deontic stance, proximity, articles, and so on. The way I viewed and studied English was somewhat different from what I used to focus on before; I was still careful about my use of grammar and vocabulary, but not just to create grammatical sentences. Beyond that, what appealed to me more was how what I wrote could convey a certain position and view in the discourse. For instance, my expression of humility was not perceived as humility but often as a lack of fundamental understanding of the subject matter by my readers. I finally understood what my literary criticism professor pointed out in my writing and was able to perceive my own writing with a certain voice. Voice, the construct that was fuzzy and uncomfortable to me until then, was not so invisible any more. Every paper was a gradual process of building an image of who I was and was not as a writer, a researcher, and a human being. I was learning how to negotiate my voice in writing.

Conflicting voices: reconstructing and negotiating my voice While I learned a particular style of writing and came to appreciate the Western under­ standing of writing voice more in the English department, leaving the department taught me to see beyond where I was. I left the English department with a lot of fancy aca­ demic terms such as postcolonialism, feminism, globalization, and postmodernism, which I believed to have experienced myself. While these words certainly showed me the power of writing and discourse, teaching writing broadened my perspective to the other end of the spectrum. When I started my new job in the Applied Linguistics department as an instructor of a writing course for international graduate students, I felt as if I had discovered a new island. Or it might be better to phrase that I was coming from the island. My own writing was made fun of by others in the department because it sounded too much like “English majors.” Meanwhile, my students were coming from a variety of disciplines such as Political Science, Restaurant and Hotel Management, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Agricultural Science, Architecture, and many others, and their goal was to write the way academics in their field of study write. What I proudly and painstakingly learned about writing did not seem to be shiny and charming when my Chemistry student came to me and asked if his writing sounded like his professor’s. The writing style that I appreciated did not work for my student. I started all over. I tried to figure out what my students’ fields defined as “good writing” by reading and analyzing articles in their disciplines and being an observer again. After looking through all the textbooks and talking with my students, the writing that I had to teach seemed so confined, conventional, and mechanical. I felt confused and bitter, and my class was the epitome of contradiction: I as a student was passionate about “liberat­ ing” ideas, whereas I as a teacher told my student to stick to the rules and gave their papers back full of corrections. My priority was different from my students’, and my internal fight has started regarding whether I should give my students what they want or what I want them to know. The fight between the student writer and the student teacher in me eventu­ ally made me decide to provide the students with whatever they wanted. After all, I was a

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non-native, novice, and female teacher with little confidence and authority. There was no room for discussion of individual voice, power of literacy, multilingualism or multicultur­ alism in my class. The class was spent on how my students could strip off “non-nativeness” or any characteristics that indicated the uniqueness of their writing and don the particular style of writing that their fields expected. There was no bonding, no brother- or sister­ hood that I experienced during my struggle as a beginning writer in English. And this contradiction influenced my writing as well. Every time I had to write my own research paper, I found myself writing like a machine – flavorless and repetitive not to sound like an English major. My voice was becoming weaker and smaller. At the end of the semester, all of my students thanked me for making their writing sound like their native speaking friends, and I took their gratitude without fully enjoying it. I left my Master’s program with faded pride and a compliment that I could not entirely embrace as a novice writing teacher. In my doctoral program, I started to have a better sense of how to reconcile my split identities between an experienced student writer and a novice writing teacher. In one of my graduate courses on teaching second language writing, we read a lot of differ­ ent approaches to writing and teaching writing. What interested me the most was the definition of the term critical. While reading the debate between critical thinking (CT) and critical practice (CP) in Canagarajah (2002), I found out that my understanding of the word critical was not critical enough; there was a view that critical thinking is a very much Western way of thinking, while critical practice views criticality as historically and contextually shaped. What kind of critical thinking I was promoting or teaching in class came up to me as a big question. With all this knowledge, teaching writing seemed to be ever more challenging, and I became more cautious about what I did in the classroom and how I responded to student papers. The voice in my teacher comments sounded more firm and solid than in writing for my own research because I wanted my students to know that thinking is a pluralistic concept. There are different perspectives and ways of thinking, not just a “black” or “white” and “right” or “wrong” dichotomy as I used to think as a new migrant to the foreign culture, who used to grow up in a relatively monolingual and homogenous culture. Yet, in classrooms, I still have moments with conflicting voices as a second language writer and a writing teacher; sometimes I stand by my students, joining them with “us non-native writers” versus “them native writers” dichotomy. At the same time, I still talk about what it means to make their writing more appropriate for academic writing, making my position clear as “an insider” to an academic writer community. How­ ever, I know now that the meaning of my job as a teacher is not correcting or appropriating my students’ voices but helping them to raise their consciousness of their place in their own community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998) and eventually to realize their voice in their writing with embodied semiotic tools.

Conclusion My literacy narrative exemplifies the notion of voice in written texts as emerging in the intersection between personal and social approaches to voice. Both my personal back­ ground as a Korean woman with a particular literacy history and the different social con­ texts that surrounded an ESL, international graduate writer influenced my construction of voice at different levels. If I had not undergone the experience as a submissive daughter, a quiet girl, and a voiceless woman, I might have not felt the same liberating and exhilarating

Reconstructing voice


sense when I first understood what “critical” meant in the US and what it can do both in the realm of academic discussion and the world outside academia. More importantly, without being situated in relationships between a Korean speaker and an English speaker, a writer and a reader, and a teacher and a student, I might have never had an opportunity to realize, negotiate, and renegotiate my voice. All of the various identities, social roles, and subject positions influenced my voice and broadened my perspective on writing. Right now, I walk the fine line between accommodation and resistance as a writer (see Cangarajah, 2002). As my narrative shows, what motivated the switch from the strategy of accommodation to resistance was my gradual socialization into the community, and corollary learning of the value, expectation, and convention of my writing community. The confidence that I gained from the awareness of different rhetorical choices and options enabled me to make the leap. This awareness is two-fold: It is the understanding of the lin­ guistic devices that I developed particular sensitivity with through the embodied practice performed through multiple interactions with others. The understanding is symbolic in that it is an understanding of where others are and where I am in terms of inequality and discrepancy of knowledge, stance, and values. In a sense, constructing a voice is building one’s own territory in a given place. The fact that I found my own community that I can claim was the impetus for me to explore as much as I can. My imagined writer image that I was happy to take up helped me decide what kind of writer I was going to and willing to be – the person who secretly, proudly, and naturally wades her way through hybridities of all the different kinds. More importantly, the in-group position that I acquired during my socialization process to be a member of American academic discourse broadened my perspective about what kind of writer I am allowed and able to be. Of course, the choice of writer identity options was hugely influenced by my personal history as a woman who used to live in a confined world with a sense of limited agency. In this sense, my movement from an accommodating writer toward a resistant writer brings up a significant implication to composition and academic writing instructors. For many multilingual writers, including myself, the role of instructors bears significance in that they can mediate the process for multilingual writers to be agentive in their own crea­ tive language use and attitude toward language. That is, the instructors can help multilin­ gual writers to bridge the potential dissonance between their own awareness of the voice and readers’ interpretation of it and eventually lead their multilingual writers to develop their own sense and control of their voice. It was through constant negotiation between and discussion about the different understandings that I and my readers had on my writing that I developed my voice and awareness of my voice. Equally important is how instructors can help with students’ different cultural understandings of voice (Ramanathan & Atkin­ son, 1999; Matsuda, 2001). My own learning experience shows that voice is not something that needs to be taught for only those students who are advanced enough to understand it; student writers’ selfawareness of voice should be encouraged and promoted from the very beginning of their literacy journey if one really aims to empower student writers as legitimate writers of their own community. In the era of language learning and teaching where meaning is most heavily emphasized in relation to every feature of language, voice will become an ever more important aspect in teaching writing. Voice is deeply rooted in the meaning of each and every instance of utterance in writing. Therefore, more attention to voice should be given by the instructors and the textbooks, and eventually reflected in curriculum and

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assessment, in order to help multilingual writers to be truly agentive in their own use of language in writing.

Notes 1 This narrative reflects my positions when I wrote them as a student. As a faculty member now, my positions have evolved, and I hope to represent them in my future narratives. 2 Informal term to refer to a young girl in a somewhat derogatory manner. 3 Literally “just like others” with “others” being “normal” people 4 “Hankuk” means Korea,“saram” person or people, and “-un” a topic marker.

References Blackledge, A. (2001). Complex positionings: Women negotiating identity and power in a minority urban setting. In A. Pavlenko, A. Blackledge, I. Piller, & M. Teutsch-Dwyer (Eds.), Second language learning, multilingualism, and gender (pp. 53–76). Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter. Canagarajah, S. (2002). Critical academic writing and multilingual students. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Elbow, P. (1968).A method for teaching writing. College English, 30, 115–125. Elbow, P. (2007).Voice in writing again: Embracing contraries. College English, 70, 168–188. hooks, b. (1989). Talking back:Thinking feminist, thinking black. Boston, MA: South End Press. Hyland, K. (2008). Disciplinary voices: Interactions in research writing. English Text Construction, 1(1), 5–22. Hyland, K. (2012). Undergraduate understandings: Stance and voice in final year reports. In K. Hyland & C. Sancho Guinda (Eds.), Stance and voice in written academic genres (pp. 134–150). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Ivanič, R. (1998). Writing and identity:The discoursal construction of identity in academic writing. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins. Jeffery, J.V. (2011). Subjectivity, intentionality, and manufactured moves:Teachers’ perception of voice in the evaluation of secondary students’ writing. Research in the Teaching of English, 46(1), 92–127. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Matsuda, P. K. (2001).Voice in Japanese written discourse: Implications for second language writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 10(1), 35–53. Pavlenko, A. (2001). How am I to become a woman in an American vein? Negotiation of gender in second language learning. In A. Pavlenko,A. Blackledge, I. Piller, & M.Teutsch-Dwyer (Eds.), Second language learning, multilingualism, and gender (pp. 133–174). Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter. Pavlenko, A. (2007). Autobiographic narratives as data in applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 28(2), 163–188. Petrić, B. (2010). Students’ conceptions of voice in academic writing. In R. Lorés-Sanz, P. MurDueñas, & E. Lafuente-Millán (Eds.), Constructing interpersonality: Multiple perspectives on written aca­ demic genres (pp. 324–336). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Raimes, A. (1985). What unskilled ESL writers do as they write: A classroom study of composing. TESOL Quarterly, 19(2), 229–258. Ramanathan, V., & Atkinson, D. (1999). Individualism, academic writing, and ESL writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 8(1), 45–75. Tardy, C. (2012). Current conception of voice. In K. Hyland & C. Sancho Guinda (Eds.), Stance and voice in written academic genres (pp. 34–48). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Wenger, E. (1998). Community of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge Univer­ sity Press.


BUENOS AIRES MON AMOUR Memories from learning to become a pluriliterate teacher Natalia Guzman

Introduction Among some language educators, there is a shared perception that the most effective way to learn a new language is to foster assimilation into the new culture and language, while the student’s first language (L1) and culture is seen as an obstacle or interference in the learning process. Not surprisingly, as Cenoz and Gorter (2013) note, the teaching of sec­ ond (L2) or foreign languages, such as English in Argentina, “[have] traditionally been associated with teaching practices that encourage the isolation of English [the target lan­ guage] from the other languages in the student’s repertoire and in the school curriculum” (p. 591). Thus, it is not uncommon to hear language teachers articulating beliefs about monolingual instruction that prohibits the use of the L1 in the classroom. Consider, for example, the expressions that Mandalios (2013) recorded in her study about the use of bilingual dictionaries and L1 in language classes: “ ‘TL [target language] only’ rules right now”; “English only is the absolute mantra”; “current methodology discourages the use of L1, especially at post- elementary” and “everything is supposed to be in the target language”. (p. 211) Some of the consequences of this approach to language teaching are: 1. Students’ progress is not necessarily accelerated. In fact, there is evidence that although a policy of speaking exclusively the L2 in the classroom will foster fluency, it does not necessarily improve accuracy among the students (Swain & Lapkin, 2002, p. 289). 2. Students may feel disem­ powered in the face of comments that do not appreciate their language background or prior knowledge (Faltis & Huddleson, 1994). 3. In the classroom, students may choose to show disinterest or resist learning the language (Canagarajah, 2002). Relegating the affective and ideological dimension of learning a language in favor of a narrow focus on teaching grammatical structures and vocabulary may create a learning environment that does not always lead to meaningful learning.

254 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

Through a series of vignettes that illustrate part of my trajectory, first, as a student of English and French, then, as a language teacher of Spanish, I discuss the importance of the affective and ideological dimension in learning and teaching literacy in a second language.

English lessons It was a humid, hot afternoon in downtown Buenos Aires. I looked through the window and noticed the sky. It was about to rain, and I was not prepared for it, as always. On top of it, I had one hour of commuting to get home, so I was sure I would get wet, very wet, while waiting for the bus. The worst part of it was that I still had 45 minutes of class and the time seemed to pass so slowly while the teacher explained with her soft voice what we were supposed to do. I was in my early teens and was sitting in a small classroom with fifteen other students. We were attending our English class in a private institute that specialized in language courses. Most of us were there because we wanted (or better, our parents wanted us) to prepare for the Cambridge Preliminary English Test. Miss A., the English teacher, had the mission to prepare us for the international exam, and she was very well suited for the role. She had the formidable reputation of being strict in class, harsh in her comments, and capable of making weak students cry in front of the class if they couldn’t follow up on her questions or homework. More importantly, we had a rule in the class that was to speak only English. Soon there was a complete silence in the class, and I realized I had missed something important. ¿Qué hay que hacer? No sé . . . lo de siempre. The answer was “the usual thing,” he said, pointing with his finger a text with questions in my open book. When the teacher overheard me talking to my classmate, I got her attention. What I have just said? Do you have any questions? At that moment, I knew I would be the chosen one to answer the first question of the textbook and I got ready. At that age, I had already experienced several teachers of the style of “Miss A.” and knew more or less how to appease them. I needed to find the information in the text. The way to do that was to look for few key words, guess the meaning (perhaps peek at my classmate’s notebook), and then hope I got it right and wait for the teacher’s reaction. The writing component in our English class was treated in a similar way. From time to time, we would have some writing task in class, but most frequently, writing was our default homework because it was the type of activity that nobody wanted to do in class. The assignments had clear instructions: “In approximately 120–150 words, write a letter to your friend Jonathan about visiting your home country (. . .).” The grading was accord­ ing to the criteria of the Cambridge ESOL organization, and I never fully understood my grading score. For these assignments, time and focus were two precious resources, and Miss A. tended to focus more on the grammar aspect and the general organization than content. In fact, I remember I would not pay too much attention to the content because in most cases we were either writing letters to fictitious British friends or applying to unusual summer job postings in the UK. I remember once she returned my written homework with a verbal comment: “Your written English is much better that your spoken English.” I looked down at my compo­ sition and saw it almost completely covered with her red annotations. At the bottom of the paper I found a C enclosed in a circle. “Wow, perhaps I shouldn’t ask her what she thinks about my spoken English,” I thought. However, there was something funny about

Buenos Aires mon Amour


my relationship with Miss A., and it was the feeling that, despite her strict personality in the classroom, we liked each other. I would say that she got to know me quite well over the years because I chose her as my English teacher several times, more specifically, every time I needed to pass a Cambridge exam. She would call on me in class, and I would deliver, not always the correct answer, yet she would appreciate my efforts. She also knew I was there not only because of my parents but also because I had a genuine interest in the language. I liked her as a teacher because she was dedicated to her students and was very knowl­ edgeable about the language. Over the years, I also had the opportunity to get to know Miss A. more personally. During our class breaks, I learned about her trips to the US and her prior studies as an English interpreter and translator. Once, she confessed to me that she had not imagined herself teaching until it became evident that there was not enough work as a translator. It was fun to talk with her, but that personal side would hardly emerge in the classroom. In fact, I never fully understood why she would deliver her grammar and vocabulary les­ sons so nonchalantly. Perhaps she had a reserved nature and felt that she would waste our classroom time in pointless conversations while the Cambridge exam was looming over our heads. The point is that I found her small talk inspiring because she was a person who experienced firsthand a portion of the world contained in our textbook.

French lessons A few years later, I decided to retake French lessons to improve what I had learned at high school. The French private institute was located in a beautiful residential neighborhood in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. The place was hard to find; when I finally reached it, a secre­ tary guided me to a tiny classroom. There were other students already sitting in, so I spent my time studying them. They were young, perhaps already in their early twenties, like me. We looked like a group of young professionals or college students. I was slightly nervous though, not only because it was my first French class after a while (and the institute placed me in an intermediate level) but also because we were not more than five students. In other words, if somebody dropped the class the course could be cancelled. Suddenly, our instructor came into the classroom. Bonjour, he said, and his voiced filled the room. He introduced himself very quickly, and I met for the first time Professeur C. At that time, he was already planning his retirement although he could probably stay in the job for a few more years. He soon put us on task and assigned us a text with questions to read and complete. My first surprise was to find out that the topic of the text had a socialist tint. In fact, the whole textbook looked more like a volume of sociology for children, full of pictures, cartoons, and discussions about the welfare state. Our reading was about youth unemployment in the banlieues. “The suburbs,” I thought, like the place in which I was studying French. The activity in class went smoothly until Prof. C. started a discussion about the reading with the whole class. He picked me for the first question, so I delivered the correct answer I found in the text. When I was done, he asked me: “So, what do you think about unemployment in Argentina? Do you think it is a good idea to have social plans or do you think the government should do something dif­ ferent?” This question was my second surprise of the day. Of course, our class was another only French environment, and suddenly I was asked to discuss my personal political views

256 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

about the Argentine unemployment policy in French. On top of that, there was something testy about Prof. C.’s demeanor. I tried to answer his question by going back to the textbook, but it didn’t work; he interrupted me. I explained to him that my French was terrible; that I didn’t have enough vocabulary since I was only a low-intermediate level student; and that his question was too complex to be answered in French. To my surprise, Prof. C. seemed to calm down for a moment but insisted again: I know you’re an intermediate student, but I assume that you have an opinion about the topic, regardless of your French level. I’ll help you with the French words. But I would like to hear your own thoughts about the topic. Essayiez parler en français, s’il vous plait. His method was different from my English lessons. He would let the student mix Spanish and French to convey an idea, but he would give the appropriate French expression and would request to “make an effort and say it in French, please.” Until that lesson with Prof. C., my impression was that reading in a language class was decoding vocabulary and grammar. Participating in a dialogue with the text through bringing my own experience, or simply by reacting to the content, was not always expected in a language class. If there was a space for personal opinions or criticisms, it was usually at the end of the activity, after we went over the appropriate grammar or vocabulary in the text. It was not the case in his class. Our ideas and opinions seemed to be first, rather than the textbook and the grammar. I would say that his French classes were for me lessons in language, power, and ideol­ ogy because I became aware of the connection between these elements in the classroom for the first time. Through discussing the different readings in my French textbook with Prof. C., I learned about the efforts of the French government to support the francophonie in response to the “Anglo-Saxon imperialism” that seemed to convince the rest of the world to study English. Of course, I also learned about unemployment, social movements, and immigration in France. We reflected on the same issues in my country and in other parts of Europe. We also discussed the symbolic value that the French language had for the elites of my own country. Prof. C. seemed to have a solid opinion about almost everything. Besides, he was always eager to dissect any student’s opinion in front of the whole class. He was not abrasive in his comments about our grammar or vocabulary, but he was highly critical of our ideas. It turned out that having an informed opinion and being able to offer consistent arguments to support it were crucial skills for passing the international French exam I wanted to take. His course, like Miss A.’s class, also had a test preparation component. In this case, it was the DELF exam (Diplôme d’études en langue française), the equivalent of the Cambridge tests in English. In the DELF exam, there were three sections: One was the oral part, another one was the grammar section, and then there was the writing portion, which was independent of the grammar section. The main genre that I needed to master was the essai argumentatif, and almost all the topics for writing were about taking a stance on a contem­ porary issue. I have to admit that among all the French teachers I had, Prof. C. became my favorite one. He sometimes had strong opinions about politics and other topics, but he was also

Buenos Aires mon Amour


amusing with his stories about trips to Europe and his past as a theater actor. Interestingly, like in the case of Miss A., he was not expecting to become a language teacher until he decided to settle down and find a more stable job. He also enjoyed literature very much and borrowed books for me from the school without restricting my selection to my French level. I could say that he really motivated me to learn more French by myself, outside the school. However, not surprisingly, his personality in the classroom also had the ability to polar­ ize the students. As a consequence, half of the class dropped the course by the end of the first semester, and our class was in danger of cancellation. Fortunately for me, the director of the school agreed not to cancel the class, although we learned that the school was mak­ ing losses with fewer French students every year. “What are we going to do? It looks like if you want to become a language teacher you should choose the right language,” I remem­ ber hearing one of those fresh mornings in the banlieues of Buenos Aires.

Spanish lessons I found a stark contrast between the lessons of Miss A. and Prof. C. Although both classes were heavily focused on test preparation, the instructors seemed to understand their roles as teachers in opposite ways. While Miss A. was reserved and quiet in the classroom, Prof. C. was keen on expressing his opinions and sharing personal stories. While Miss A. tended to be strict with language use and was constantly monitoring what we were doing in the classroom, Prof. C. was more comfortable organizing impromptu oral debates and would even let us mix Spanish and French to develop our ideas. In this regard, one of the most important differences I found between them was the role that personal opinions and prior knowledge had in the classroom. In other words, Miss A. seemed to be more concerned about language as a set of rules and vocabulary, while Prof. C. appeared to be more focused on language as a tool for communicating personal thoughts. The first time I had the opportunity to reflect on my language lessons was when I became a language teacher myself. I found a summer job in a language school that special­ ized in teaching Spanish to speakers of other languages in Buenos Aires. At the time, I had little experience as a language teacher because most of my training was in Hispanic litera­ ture and linguistics. In those days, I was dreaming about becoming a college instructor and conducting research in historical discourse analysis. My language teachers, such as Miss A. and Prof. C., were the models I had when I was given my first Spanish “textbook” and was instructed to present grammar points, vocabulary, and oral activities to foster com­ munication en español. Teaching only “in Spanish” was an important tenet at the school, which proudly advertised language immersion courses with native speakers on its website. The circumstance that the school followed a strict mixture of communicative approach and direct method, which banned the use of any other language than Spanish in the class­ room, made me think about my language instructors. I thought about Miss A., whom I cannot remember talking in Spanish. I remembered Prof. C. closing the door of the classroom during our debates. All of the sudden, I was in a similar position and was making the same choices in my classroom almost unconsciously. My first Spanish “textbook” offered me another opportunity to remember my language instructors. The “textbook” was a bundle of black and white photocopies that previous instructors had prepared to teach the topics specified in the school syllabi. In Argentina at

258 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

that moment, there was little ready-made material for teaching Spanish. As a consequence, the Spanish teachers at the school would usually prepare their own material or make cop­ ies from our improvised “textbook.” The textbook included a wide range of instructional materials: language drills, cloze activities, fill-in-the-blank songs, reading passages, and writing prompts, among other pieces. With time, I learned that the activity I would select to bring to the class would set the tone of the lesson. In other words, when I came to the class with a set of drills and cloze activities, like my English teacher, it was very hard to organize an oral debate with my students, like my French instructor used to do. I realized that institutions shape the teacher’s practice by giving them a textbook or advocating a particular teaching methodology. Perhaps Miss A. was in a school that didn’t afford her freedom to choose her classroom materials, and she had to design her classes around bland readings and strange writing prompts. However, I also had Prof. C. who was probably in a language school with similar guidelines and resources. The textbook was more progressive than the English one but still looked like a comic book. When I was faced with my first Spanish “textbook” and started to select my own material, I understood how Prof. C. managed to use his available resources to tap on our personal interests and start a conversation without limiting himself to the book. However, I discovered that it could be dangerous to go beyond the book without a clear plan. There was one lesson that I remember teaching during my first summer at the language school in Buenos Aires. I was in a small classroom with six or seven students sit­ ting around a large table, and for that day I chose an activity with a song, Ojalá que llueva café (“I wish it would rain coffee”), from our textbook. The activity was a fill-in-the-gap exercise, and the students had to listen to the song and complete it with the missing verbs. I was worried about grammar, and my goal for the day was to teach the present subjunctive. The activity went very well, and the students, a variety of young and middle-aged people from almost everywhere around the world, completed the verbs with ease. Most importantly, the students seemed to understand the conjugation of the subjunctive. I was very happy with the results and was about to move to the next activity when one of my students asked me: Qué significa “Ojalá que llueva café”? The student wanted to know the meaning of the song’s title because there was something strange in wishing a rain of coffee without explaining why. It was a simple, ingenuous question that put me on the spot, and I couldn’t answer it. It happened that when I chose the song I was thinking about the gram­ mar and the upbeat rhythm of the music. I had overlooked the content and unconsciously left the meaning of the song unexplained, in a similar way as in my English lessons. My students took the initiative and started a class discussion. “I think this is about pov­ erty in Latin America,” one of them added. “This is another left-leaning song that wants to excuse the incompetence of some Latin American governments and people,” said another one. “I cannot believe there are people like you visiting South America,” answered a third angry student, marking the beginning of a bitter debate in class. The ironic part of the dis­ cussion was that I, the teacher who was trained in literature and critical discourse analysis, was rediscovering the metaphorical dimension of a text I chose to bring to class to practice the subjunctive. I managed to redirect the discussion in class using more positive terms to express opin­ ions and thoughts and helped my students to read the text more closely as they wanted to do. Everything was done in Spanish, in the same way Prof. C. used to do it in our les­ sons. The debate became an excellent opportunity for me to teach new expressions and

Buenos Aires mon Amour


vocabulary about the topic. I even managed to push my students to use the grammar point of the class, the subjunctive, without deterring our discussion. They also had questions for me. “So, what do you think about the lyrics?” one of them asked me in perfect Spanish. Another one added, “And what do you think about the Argentine government?” They not only wanted to know my opinion about the song, but they also wanted to know about Argentina and its social policies. That day I learned about debates in the classroom. I learned about students bringing to the textbook their own thoughts and opinions to make sense of what they read in the school. I also learned about unexpected, sometimes uncomfortable, outcomes when the teacher is open to discussing with the students the meaning of a text. However, the expe­ rience is rewarding when the teacher engages the students in active reading, not only to complete the grammar and vocabulary of the lesson but also to learn more about them­ selves and different cultures.

Final reflection on language lessons This narrative presents my trajectory as a student and language teacher. The goal of this narrative is to reflect on the affective and ideological dimension of language learning. In the case of English, I discovered that the love and motivation to learn the language was more or less left to my own initiative. Motivation was very often taken for granted since the general perception was that English was a practical and useful language, particularly helpful to finding a job in a globalized economy. In addition, the connections between lan­ guage and ideology were opaque in the classroom. Teachers and textbooks barely addressed issues of language prestige or language diversity in the vast English-speaking world. My love for the English language emerged when I started reading by myself newspapers or short stories that I could access online. The language became alive when I met people from around the world in my Spanish lessons. My students taught me colloquial expres­ sions while sharing their own view of the English-speaking world. Finally, my students made me appreciate language diversity within English and encouraged me to reflect on the diversity of Spanish, my own language. My experience with French was different. In contrast to the teachers of English, my teachers of French were on a mission to motivate students to pursue the language. They were conscious about how French was losing ground to popular English. In addition, my teachers and their textbooks were fond of reflecting on the prestigious status that French culture has had in countries like Argentina. At least some of my teachers were eager to dis­ cuss with a critical eye the concept of francophonie and their connections with the colonial past of France. The efforts that my teachers made to underscore the grandeur of the French culture and their presence in my own home culture drew me more to the language and later helped me to reflect on the cultural and historical dimension of my L1, Spanish. These experiences of learning English and French influenced my development in Span­ ish because I could think about language as a cultural experience and historical evolution, beyond the construct one nation – one language (Canagarajah, 2013; Cenoz & Gorter, 2013, p. 593). Learning about the history and culture associated with English and French, I became aware of the colonial past of the Spanish language, the great number of varieties spoken across the Hispanic world, and the language prestige or lack of prestige in some contexts. My experience with these languages made me sensitive to the language diversity

260 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

in my own country. Reflection on language prestige and colonialism made me conscious of my position as a speaker of a particular variety of Spanish and the relationship of Spanish with other native languages spoken in Argentina. Understanding better the cultural and economic ties of my country with other parts of the world helped me to better appreciate my own education. Regarding my trajectory as a language teacher, this narrative argues in favor of per­ ceiving language instruction as a mode of offering tools for meaningful communication instead of limiting it to a set of rules and vocabulary. In addition, it highlights the impor­ tance of prior experiences as a student in the process of developing an identity as a teacher. As I expressed before in this narrative, both Miss A. and Prof. C. were role models in my career as a language teacher. At different stages of my career, I went back to those memo­ ries to try to find answers to my daily practice in the classroom. More importantly, my membership in a community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998) of teach­ ers helped me to better understand Miss A. and Prof. C.’s strategies in the classroom. For instance, I have experienced a variety of school settings that favored specific methodologies and privileged a monolingual approach to language teaching, similar to the guidelines that English and French institutes followed when I was a student. From my experience working in similar conditions to Miss A. and Prof. C., testing and assessment proved to be a powerful mode of regulating language instruction. My worries about teaching grammar in my Spanish classes were, in most cases, because my students would be tested on grammar. Frequently, I did not have control over the test since either the administration or an international organization would prepare and give the high-stakes exams to my students. My language teachers were in a similar situation regarding exami­ nation. As a consequence, it was a challenge to them and to me to effectively manage our scarce time in class while providing students with productive and motivating activities. I came to understand these tensions in the process of developing a teacher identity myself. Finally, participating in a community of learning, first as a student, then as a teacher, made me appreciate the moments of personal connection with my teachers, colleagues, and students. Although Miss A. and Prof. C. had very different teaching styles, both could share with the students a personal side of the experience of being multilingual. Through small talk or class debates, both of them encouraged students to experience by themselves the language and culture we studied in our textbooks. In a similar way, as a teacher, I value the time spent in getting to know the students as individuals with diverse interests and needs. In addition, I have looked for opportunities to incorporate in my language lessons a personal approach that underscores my background and my knowledge of the Hispanic world. Becoming a pluriliterate teacher gave me valuable insights into literacy practices that were helpful in the classroom. As a reader, gaining a plurilingual competence expanded my horizon and allowed me to read materials that were not translated into Spanish. Even when I was not able to understand all the words I would read, reading in a foreign language encouraged me to play language detective with texts. When I teach, I encourage this dis­ position toward language and meaning in texts among my students. As a writer, it made me more aware of grammar structure and genre conventions that were important in my English and French high-stakes exams. Over the years, when I had the opportunity to engage in more demanding writing in English, in the US, I also discovered language play­ fulness which allowed me to bring my knowledge of Romance language to the conventions

Buenos Aires mon Amour


of English. As a teacher, I seek to promote student engagement with writing and encourage language experimentation while highlighting the importance of following the accepted conventions of writing.

Conclusion The activity of writing a memoir of my learning process gave the opportunity to revisit my recollections of two of my favorite language instructors, as well as remember my own beginning as a Spanish teacher. The act of composing this memoir meant the possibility to explore a genre that is not usually associated with academic uses of English. The memoir offered me the opportunity to intertwine academic forms with a personal narrative that allowed me to intersperse the text with words in Spanish and French. As an L2 writer, this was one of the few opportunities to use a more expressive style in writing and experiment more with my plurilingual competence. To bring my languages in a more direct way in my narrative and to write about my recollections through the means of a second language gave me the possibility to rethink questions about language, learning, and teaching in more depth and with more pleasure.

References Canagarajah, A. S. (2002). Critical academic writing and multilingual students. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Canagarajah, A. S. (2013). Literacy as translingual practice: Between communities and classrooms. New York: Routledge. Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2013).Towards a plurilingual approach in English language teaching: Softening the boundaries between languages. TESOL Quarterly, 47(3), 591–599. Faltis, C., & Hudelson, S. (1994). Learning English as an additional language in K-12 schools. TESOL Quarterly, 28(3), 457. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mandalios, J. (2013). Power and pedagogy in ELT: Native-speaker teachers and the case of bilingual dictionaries and L1. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 23(2), 202–225. Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (2002). Talking it through: Two French immersion learners’ response to reformulation. International Journal of Educational Research, 37, 285–304. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


RECREATION AND EDUCATION Exploring my embodied engagement in English and Korean literacies Michael Chesnut

Introduction I am confidently uncertain about publishing this literacy autobiography. I have been writ­ ing variations of my literacy autobiography for over seven years and have been shepherded on this writing journey by kind and helpful scholars while being introduced to, and find­ ing independently, scholarship relevant to both literacy autobiographies as a genre and my own journey as a language learner. Further, during this time, I have taught classes in which students wrote fascinating multilingual literacy autobiographies, and these students taught me much about how this form of writing can be multivocal, subtle, and playful, and they informed me of the possibilities offered by an intense focus on form. I even explored lit­ eracy autobiographies in my own research discussing both student development (Chesnut, 2011) and issues of emotion and ideology (Chesnut & Shulte, 2011) and have even been intermittently writing another literacy autobiography in Korean, my strongest foreign lan­ guage. I am certain literacy autobiographies can contribute to academic discussions echo­ ing others who see value in autobiographical accounts of language learning (for discussions of the value of these texts see Pavlenko (2001), Pavlenko (2002) and Kramsch (2009) among many others), and I am confident that I can craft a text that is acceptable within a larger academic community interested in this genre of writing. However, I am uncertain about this text in certain ways: my choice to collapse the myriad of possible literacy auto­ biographies into this single variation; my attempt to find a “sexy angle” to explore within my stories; and ultimately my choice to explore my own life as opposed to those around me whose stories may be richer and where the complicated interplay of multiple actors and voices can enrich the final research. This iteration of my literacy autobiography explores several related but less explored ideas that circulate around writing, literacy, and TESOL: the importance of embodied contextual experiences of using pens, pencils, paper, and more in my widely varying liter­ acy development; the importance of pleasure and satisfaction in understanding my literacy practices; and the importance of both personal and textual history that builds over time with any particular text, such as this particular literacy autobiography, or genre, such as

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the larger emerging genre of literacy autobiographies. In following this path, I am taking advantage of the affordances of literacy autobiographies as a genre. With me already the focus of this text, it is easy to tighten my self-reflective gaze and focus on the writing of this text as an object of analysis in this text, especially as I have been writing it for almost a dec­ ade. Further, I am more comfortable exploring some of the more seemingly trivial aspects of literacy development when discussing my development and especially my failures. I am also aware that dangers lurk in these autobiographical genres. Boldt (1996, p. 126), drawing heavily upon Newkirk (1992), discusses the temptation to create a coherent text featuring iconic, clearly understandable and morally satisfying characters with a clear beginning, middle, and end that in my case would obscure or elide the wandering, cha­ otic, and irreverent nature of language learning and use. Likewise, there can be an emo­ tional need to create a confessional tale of language-learning failure or a story that exposes discomfort but in doing so ignores the uncertainty, other possible interpretations, and banality of language learning in favor of a tale emotionally gratifying to the author – and perhaps readers. Awareness of these temptations does not mitigate them, and writing about them here is part of creating an authorial identity as one who knows about these dangers. However, my hope is that I have crafted a text that for the most part avoids these dangers by relying on both colleagues and friends to highlight where I might be indulging myself. Further, having first written this text in 2005, I can look back and perhaps see, through new eyes, the paths I took in this text and see my current text through those younger eyes of my younger selves. In many ways, I can both critique and be critiqued by multiple ver­ sions of myself by using my long-convoluted history with this genre of writing.

Elementary school literacies Gripping a black ink pen, I carefully traced over my handwritten pencil letters. Writing the text with my oversized red pencils had been easy, but writing over in ink made any mis­ take permanent, adding pressure and excitement. I traced another letter, moving my hand to avoid smudging my pencil crayon drawings on the top half of the page. With so much intense concentration, I needed to look away, become distracted, daydream, and space out before writing anymore. I had looked around my typical mid-1980s Canadian classroom uncountable times before, but there was always something to look at: drawings from me and other students, books, posters, the wood floor that had trapped dozens of small strange objects in its cracks, and the rest of the decaying, nearly 70-year-old classroom itself. Other students were interesting as well, chatting away or working on their story books, and occasionally French could be overheard from one of the immersion classrooms down the hall. Seeing a bookcase, the aquarium that held our class snake, and our chalk-dust laden blackboard, I daydreamed into a fantasy land of alien desert worlds, giant creatures, and massive industrial machines. My teacher circled around helping other students in my elementary class and I, perhaps aware of my approaching teacher, slowly looked again at my story book, taking my pen in hand and tracing out another word in ink. Computers existed in my mid-1980s Western Canadian public elementary school world, but I lived in a paper world of English spelling tests done on off-color cheap paper, larger sheets for drawing and more, and the dreaded French tests. Student writing and drawing, including some of my own, surrounded me in my elementary classrooms, and one of the most interesting and wonderful activities we were involved in was our story books. We

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created fantastical stories involving heroes and more and illustrated them with pencil cray­ ons and pens, carefully completing by hand both the written texts and their accompanying drawings. Further, Arthur B. Chester Elementary, a pseudonym, had acquired a special “book machine” that could bind students’ pages in spiral notebooks, punching holes in these slowly crafted pages and binding them with odd plastic strips. Using this machine, complete with hand-levered punching action, was the final act of finishing our story pro­ jects, and after using this machine every student had in their possession their own story, the funny Canadian elementary school version of an illustrated manuscript. As middle school approached and school work turned slightly more serious, our grade four class undertook a major piece of writing involving pens, paper, and pencil crayons. Each student was required to write a report on a country, complete with a presentation, and I chose Italy possibly because I liked Italian food. I had to create a long report on Italy, and to do so I interviewed an older Italian neighbor and created maps. Ultimately, it was a substantial essay for an elementary school student and included a final presentation includ­ ing displays of pasta and other Italian artifacts. The slow, deliberate act of handwriting a story on loose papers, coloring its illustra­ tions, and finally binding it as a book are acts of literacy that must be understood as deeply embodied. The ache of holding an oversized red pencil too long, the tension of writing in ink knowing that any mistake risked being permanently marked on the page, and the smells of wood-shavings from pencil crayons are all intrinsic to how these texts were cre­ ated, my writing development, and the development of my desires that surrounded and continue to surround writing. In emphasizing the importance of my physical body crafting these texts, I am echoing many others who wish to reaffirm connections between athletic playful bodies and practices of reading, writing, and rhetoric, such as in Boldt’s (2009a) exploration of children’s writing as play and Hawhee’s (2006) examination of classical rhetoric, athleticism, and pedagogy. The awe and dread of empty blank pages followed eventually by a physical clank of the book-binding machine highlight how these writing projects were physical objects, marked in both time and space. Most elementary school teachers may well understand that writing practices are inevitably contextual physical acts involving bodies that tire, ache, become overexcited, and feel heartbeat-changing tension as students write and engage in literacy practices. However, in college-level composition and second language writing, it is easy to move past these issues and instead focus almost entirely on issues of disembodied voices, writing processes, and products. In my case, these physical aspects of writing, reading, and more were one way of learning how to take embodied pleasure in literacy practices. Much like my hobbies of playing board games, and later building model airplanes and tanks, writing was a playful, pleasurable activity. Scholars in fields such as elementary school literacy development (Boldt, 2009a, 2009b) and TESOL (Kubota, 2011) have begun to examine language activities not only as devel­ opment but also as playful, hobby-like activities. Certainly, my elementary school writing activities resulted in literacy development, but they should also be understood as something closer to recreation or a hobby. Additionally, there was always a visceral sense of completion with these projects. At the end, I had my own book or project completed with my own hands that had weight and that I could pick up and carry with me. There was a physical engagement with these texts that I had constructed and when these texts were complete, finished with every mistaken pencil mark visible, I had a sensation of completion that was known through the body. There still

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is a visceral satisfied sensation for me when completing any type of writing involving pen, pencil, and paper. The power of physical rituals in writing practices rarely enters discus­ sions of second language writing and college-level writing, but in my case the rituals of my elementary school continue to echo in my life. Sometimes these physical sensations could be understood as what Perl (2004) describes as felt-sense, a physical body-based knowing, that she has explored as a means of aiding composition. In my elementary school literacy practices, I experienced this felt-sense, but I also want to emphasize the value of ritual. The importance of ritual is visible in locations varying from places of worship to military parade grounds, and for me some literacy practices were powerfully bound to rituals of binding books, careful lettering, and more. Underestimating or overlooking the impor­ tance of ritual to literacy may be far too common in many classrooms and beyond. In exploring these stories of my early literacy, I drew upon my memories but also other resources. I spoke with both my parents, and their stories of my language learning informed my understanding of these experiences. However, any knowledge or under­ standing of my early childhood literacy still must be understood as interpretation shaped by both my current experiences and my future hopes and dreams. These discussions with my parents and the use of other methods raise new questions about literacy autobiographies. If I am interviewing others about my own language development, then the question of how a literacy autobiography differs from more autoethnographic research practices natu­ rally arises. Canagarajah has written both a literacy autobiography (2001) and an autoeth­ nographic exploration of literacy and teacher development (2012) so more experienced scholars may be better equipped to explore this issue. For me, this literacy autobiography means allowing myself to act, to some degree, as an academic tourist casually peeking into scholarship of elementary school literacy development and classical rhetoric that otherwise I would not comment on. Ultimately, I choose not to explore the methodological distinc­ tions between autoethnography, literacy autobiography, and other methods for studying one’s own practices but raise these issues in the spirit of writing as play and in the hope of inculcating some further discussion of these issues. Returning to my literacy adventures, as I moved into middle school and then high school, my literacy practices were reoriented more toward computers and academic writ­ ing, an area I choose not to explore in this particular literacy autobiography. However, in my experiences outside of school, the literacies of pen and paper again returned.

Literacies beyond school in Canada Surrounded by darkness with a flashlight in one hand and a pen clutched in the other, I slowly scribbled another word onto a large foolscap paper. Exhaustion and stress weighed down my hand as I struggled to handwrite a one-page autobiography detailing my entire life. I had no idea Canadian Army Reserve basic training would include writing a short autobiographical essay. The day had been a blur of training, running, shouted commands, and general chaos. The evening, when, if I was smarter, I would have written my short essay, had been spent cleaning the barracks, sorting out new uniforms and equipment, and following whatever orders were barked in my general direction. And so now, after lights out, when everyone in the barracks was supposed to be sleeping, I was stuck scribbling out some kind of autobiography. With my head bobbing with the need for sleep, I tried to read through blurry eyes what I had written, but I couldn’t make sense of it. I didn’t care, it was

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done, and I desperately wanted to sleep. Waking the next morning to crashing garbage cans and barked orders, I handed in my literacy autobiography, and that evening I was told to rewrite it again, this time legibly. During basic training, there were not many other demands for writing. Instead, dur­ ing the brief moments of rest, I wrote some letters home to friends and family. Really this was an introduction to letter writing for me, a chance to reconnect with an older form of communication I had never really been familiar with, and whose importance for me came from the tactile nature of opening up an envelope, feeling and smelling the paper it was printed on, and engaging in literacy practices that involved the senses and the body. The rest of basic training was a blur of waking up in spasm-inducing pain from the physi­ cal exercise, being screamed at for the simplest of mistakes, and then finally finishing and returning home. After basic training, we started getting more involved with the training of our par­ ticular trade, armored reconnaissance, which involved a greater involvement in map read­ ing; armored fighting vehicle identification; and nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare protection, all of which involved physical text and literacy. Map reading involved a tre­ mendous amount of learning; we learned new symbols that we marked on the map with felt pens but also how to physically read both the map and the land in order to understand how to find our location. Maps physically were important: the way they were cut down to include only the important areas and the way they were laminated and folded so they could easily be read and could fit easily inside a cargo pocket. Writing on maps always involved a connection between the weather and text not normally present in discussions of literacy. Whatever we wrote on maps had to be waterproof as nature had a habit of raining whenever we went to the field. This meant we had to use waterproof felt pens to write and then chemical wipes to clean away the ink. As we kept training, the maps we were using would degrade as the chemicals ate into them, the rain soaked them, and they were folded and refolded again and again. Further, we all carried military-issued Field Message Pads or FMPs, small graph-paper top-bound notebooks that we used for a wide variety of writ­ ing activities. Orders group, small meetings where plans were passed down for us to fol­ low, involved intense moments of literacy activity with careful notes being made on maps and important information written down as it was being said. These were also physically intense events involving literacy but also running, movement, and more. High school in some ways severed me from the tactile world of pen and paper writing, but the military was a venue where I became re-familiar with the connection between writing and the joy of pens, paper, journals, and letters. While Canagarajah (1996) has emphasized the important of non-discursive elements in writing, this has mostly been in the context of the limitations these elements impose on some writers. My experience in the Canadian military again emphasizes these elements, and certain elements such as cold, rain, limited lighting, and more imposed some limitations on my literacy practices but also, in the artificial environment of military training, a certain harsh pleasure in them as well. These non-discursive elements can vastly shape literacy development but are all too often ignored or simply passed over in much of writing scholarship and TESOL. Further, the literacy practices I engaged in while in the Canadian Army Reserves are being discussed in different scholarly areas. The connection between writing and the sur­ rounding environment, especially the connections between the natural environment of for­ est and prairies and our writing practices, has been discussed in the field of ecocomposition

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(see Dobrin and Weisser (2002) for a partial overview). Additionally, the military, for me, was a place of simultaneous physical activity and literacy activity: a time of speaking and running as well as occasionally speaking while running, with reading and writing inter­ spersed. The connections between the athletic, especially the athletic body, and literacy are a central concern for any strand of rhetoric centered on understanding embodied rhetorical traditions of the classical world and their implications for current pedagogy and scholarship (see Hawhee, 2006 for a brief introduction to this scholarship). In highlighting the con­ nections between my military literacy experiences and both ecocomposition and traditions of classical athletic rhetoric, I want to emphasize the importance of embodied context on literacy practices, especially as it is so easy to overlook these aspects in TESOL, composi­ tion, and second language writing. However, this military experience raises further issues. Many literacy practices significant to scholarly discussions and research take place outside of schools and universities and so are consistently overlooked as sites of informative and fascinating literacy practices. In my case, I hope my experience with military literacy prac­ tices raised my awareness of the fascinating and complex everyday literacy practices that can exist in rather unexpected places. However, more important for my literacy development was learning how to take pleas­ ure in writing and reading letters and mastering and using objects associated with literacy such as maps, field message pads, and more. Through these experiences, I saw repeated connections between my surroundings, the rainy forests where we were training, and my interest in reading and writing. Writing itself has a narrative element, and the books and maps I encountered in the military would have a beginning, when I was issued them, a middle, when I used them in the field, and an end, ultimately decaying or being completely filled, that highlighted the temporal and linear nature of writing. I started a new FMP and wrote in it for months and then finished it and with it a stage of training, an exercise, or some other military activity. With a map it was the same. There was a story and the satis­ faction that comes with finishing a story in these tactile engagements with literacy. This visceral sensation of completion that came with finishing some writing activity would continue with me into the future.

Korean language literacy practices and an embrace of English academic literacy Waiting in Vancouver for takeoff, I thumbed through my copy of Teach Yourself Korean (Vincent & Yeon, 1997) in between stretching my legs, trying to get comfortable for the ten-hour flight. Peering around the flight cabin with nervous energy, I kept returning to my book, trying to sound out the pronunciation of the Korean script and get a handle on some basic greetings. I read through an explanation on the first set of Korean letters and flipped the page over to the exercises and started answering questions, but the Korean I had just been looking at slipped away so easily. I flipped back to the explanation and read it again, but the words, sounds, and letters just faded from memory almost as soon as I stopped looking at them. Everything was so different that even trying to remember “hello”~ “안녕하세요” seemed impossible. No problem, it would be easier to pick up eve­ rything in Korea. I needed a break, or maybe just a change, after university and four years in the Army Reserves doing nothing but training, and teaching English in Korea seemed cool enough and offered a chance to go overseas. I wasn’t sure about this Teach Yourself

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Korean book, but I also wasn’t sure about teaching English, so I figured I’d just do it and see what happened. Twenty-five years old and heading to Korea in 2002 with a contract and visa to teach outside of Seoul, I was sure I was heading to Korea just for a short while and that I could pick up the language, at least enough so that I could sound incredibly cool when speaking Korean back home in Canada. A few weeks later, I was settled in Chuncheon, a city of about 250,000 in the relatively rural and sparsely populated Kangwon province, teaching shifts split between very early morning classes and late evening classes. This left me with plenty of time during the day to rest, especially for those 6:40 am classes, or to come into the office early in the afternoon and study Korean. Striding into the office in the afternoon for my second shift after a nerv­ ous first two weeks I was early but already prepared for the upcoming classes. Grabbing my freshly purchased blue notebook, and impressed again with cute Korean stationary, I sat down in my empty classroom and started copying out the Korean Hangul script notes, confident that with enough copying I would eventually memorize them completely. My boss, Ms. Ahn, a pseudonym, eager to see what I was up to, walked into my class with a “Michael! How are you?” and then looked over my notebooks. She looked over my book and then directed me to follow her and out to the main lobby where we took over the secretary’s desk for an impromptu Korean lesson. She began by carefully writing out the Korean Hangul script on a piece of scrap paper: 가  나  다  라  마  바  사  아  자  차  카  타  파  하 Finished with writing this out, she led me through some basic pronunciation exercises and focused on the basic phrases “I’m hungry” 배고파요 and “I’m tired” 피곤해요, having me repeat these two expressions as I could not seem to remember them despite their being such simple words. Perhaps remembering my role as an English teacher in her academy, she ended our quick lesson and I, eager to maintain a good relationship with my boss, headed back to my classroom to focus on my upcoming English class. Later that evening I copied her notes into my Korean learning notebook, and, over the following days and weeks, I added extra notes to my Korean Hangul script pages and additional pages on grammar and vocabulary. The page with her notes eventually became cluttered with key languagerelated knowledge I learned in daily encounters such as how to spell my name in Korean script “마이클” and the language needed to order beer at the bar, including that beer was usually ordered in 500cc increments with the phrase “오백  주세요” roughly meaning “please give me 500cc” (see picture 1). Eventually my notes and other writing accumulated into my “Grand Notebook,” a thick notebook bound with a plastic covered coil, with fun plastic dividers that could be pulled out and then placed in different spots. I used this notebook for my classes and my own independent studying. I had sections for grammar, for “cool phrases,” for vocabulary, and more. And I still have the book now. I also kept a small pocket-sized notebook with me all the time where I wrote down the new Korean words I encountered on a daily basis. Furthermore, I was eventually given a journal where I could write a daily record of my life in Korea, in Korean. My notebooks and journals led to, and sometimes still lead to, interesting social encounters where someone noticed me studying or writing in Korean and struck up a conversation. My notebooks were also vital for the language exchanges that really propelled my language learning. As I walked into student café at Kangwon National University in Chuncheon, I waved and walked over to Lucy, my Korean friend and language exchange partner. “뭐 마시고 싶어? ”

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(“What do you wanna drink?”), I asked as we walked over to the counter. Today was a Korean study day, so I had my notebooks and Korean textbooks, but then again I almost always carried some kind of Korean notebooks with me. We sat down with our sugarpowered flavored coffees and cracked open my notebook with my handwritten Korean dialogues. These dialogues, often featuring myself, Lucy, mutual friends, and Korean celebrities in bizarre and funny scenarios in which I or “I” as a character would say I was amazing in some way and a friend or celebrity would agree, were the basis of much of my Korean language learning. Lucy burst out laughing as she read my latest dialogue where Korean actress Jun Jihyun agreed I was both an angel and a genius. She then started cor­ recting some of the errors in my dialogue and talking through a few points with both of us jumping between English and Korean. These exchanges were always reflected in my notebooks, adding a textual component to even discussion activities. There was always for me a palpable sensation of something ending and something new beginning when I finished a Korean journal or picked up a new notebook to write in. These notebooks were important to my own Korean literacy development and my own sense of accomplishment in learning Korean, and this link between paper materials and my Korean learning would continue. After two years in Korea, I moved to Daejeon, a larger city of over a million people, to teach at Woosong University, a job considerably better than my previous positions teaching at language academies. Even better, this university had an MA TESOL program I could enroll in. This program was founded by PhD alumni from Penn State’s Cur­ riculum and Instruction program and was strongly focused on issues of critical pedagogy (see Sung, 2007 for detailed discussions of both this program and critical pedagogy in Korea). In the first class I took in this program, Critical Sociolinguistics, taught by Rod Pederson,1 the major assignment was a literacy autobiography, and this class was my reintroduction to academic writing and my introduction to the fields of education, TESOL, and applied linguistics. Taking this class in 2005 was my first meeting with literacy autobiographies as a genre of writing, and we were asked to consider issues of power, imperialism, identity, and more in our language development. I was relatively lost in this class, but this critical approach to examining language and literacy made sense when I considered my experiences in Korea. Language learning rarely followed understood patterns of acquisition in my experiences and instead involved social worlds of friendship, solidarity, pleasure, and romance. Rod collected my literacy autobiography alongside my classmates’ LAs at the end of class and went on to collect many others as he continued to teach in the Woosong MA TESOL program. Eventually he analyzed these texts, publishing the results of his research in a Korean journal (Pederson, 2010). I could not realize it at the time, nor could anyone given the five years that would elapse between me writing a literacy autobiography and Pederson publishing his analysis of many student literacy autobiographies, but an interested precedent had been set for me linking literacy autobiographies and research. In this literacy autobiography, I am emphasizing the contextually rich, embodied, and sensory paths of my literacy development. However, I came to understand that this literacy autobiography itself had such a history and needed to be understood within its own his­ tory and embodied development. The origins of this text persist in this current iteration, and the bodily bound pleasures and fears of writing about text and sense continually shape this text.

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I continued studying Korean in Daejeon but without the close Korean friends I had made in Chuncheon, at least at first. Instead, writing out Korean vocabulary became a kind of hobby, something I could do to take my mind off work or social problems. After a stressful day teaching and fretting over some MA TESOL work I should’ve already done, I needed to relax. Sitting down at my desk, I moved aside my wheez­ ing laptop and cleared a space for me to work on my Korean. Taking a fresh piece of A4 paper, I slowly paged through my handwritten pocket-sized Korean vocabulary notebook looking for where I had written some interesting new Korean words. Find­ ing the right page, I placed it open-faced on my right with another notebook lying on top to keep it open but also leaving the text visible. I slowly started copying out the vocabulary from my small notebook onto the A4 sheet feeling some stress melt away as I did so. I turned on the TV to a Korean channel that often showed American shows, and, between the background noise from the TV and the slow deliberate copying of vocabulary, my mind wandered and entered a relaxed, almost meditative state. Finish­ ing with two A4 sheets, I flipped them over, attached scotch tape to them in little loops, and stuck them against the wall of my kitchen, stepping back to admire my handiwork (see picture 2). Looking around, I was always a little distressed that I didn’t actually know so many of the words written on vocabulary notes stuck on my walls, but I was certainly feeling more relaxed and satisfied and ready, perhaps, to tackle some MA TESOL work. The act of writing out vocabulary, placing them on visible surfaces, and reviewing them in passing can be examined in a variety of ways. As an act of pure language acquisition, this practice should be judged a failure as I rarely acquired the vocabulary I wrote out unless I started using it in context. However, as an aesthetic and sensory process, writing out this vocabulary was one way I could enjoy and take pleasure in my Korean literacy at a time when I had lost most of my other avenues for expressing myself in Korea. With fewer Korean friends in Daejeon, there were fewer opportunities to engage in language exchange or even playful conversation, but these writing activities were one practice through which I could continue taking pleasure in Korean. Perhaps, again following Kubota (2011), my Korean language study at this point should be, or at least could be, understood not as a process of attempted language acquisition but as the pursuit of a hobby where I was pri­ marily interested in the pleasure taken from the act itself. The pleasure taken in carefully and deliberately writing out vocabulary and then placing on my walls, much like a piece of art, may have been the goal itself. Importantly though, these artistic engagements with language learning at least kept me engaged and interested in Korean, positioning me later to reengage with more developmentally productive activities. After more than three years in Daejeon and having completed my MA TESOL, I trave­ led to Penn State to start a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction. Just as when I started my MA, I took an introductory class that involved me writing a literacy autobiography, this time for Suresh Canagarajah and in a class focused on teaching second language. Also, I was now explicitly told I was the object of study, as he intended to research our literacy autobiography writing practices, with this effort later resulting in several publications (see Canagarajah (2011a, 2011b) for research that is partially based on this class). In my case, I remember wanting to inject my Korean writing into this text and the fun and pleasure of doing so, despite some feelings of trepidation and uncertainty over the correctness of my Korean.

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After two years on campus at Penn State where I continued studying Korean but primar­ ily focused on my graduate studies, I returned to Korea to both teach English and conduct my dissertation research. Luckily, I found a position teaching in the English Interpretation and Translation undergraduate department at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a university primarily founded to teach foreign languages, with teaching writing being one of my main responsibilities. I wanted to continue studying Korean, and perhaps eventually develop into a dynamic, successful user of Korean, but I found myself further interested in teaching writing to first-year students and in incorporating literacy autobiographies into those classes. In my first semester teaching, I made literacy autobiographies an assignment for first-year second-semester students. I gave part of Canagarajah’s literacy autobiography as an example and gave individual feedback to students throughout the semester as they wrote their texts. I found these texts fascinating, especially student accounts of the emo­ tions connected with English language learning in Korea. The following year I taught the same class and again assigned literacy autobiographies. These assignments, combined with the need to publish to keep my job, resulted in my first academic publication in a small Korean journal (Chesnut, 2011) in which I highlighted how this type of writing can be suitable for students majoring in English interpretation and translation. I continued assign­ ing literacy autobiographies, later collaborating with a colleague on a presentation explor­ ing the emotions and ideologies that circulate in these texts (Chesnut & Schulte, 2011), but as I continued I also noticed, especially after comparing students’ texts with those writ­ ten by more accomplished authors, that many students used only the grammar they were most familiar with in their texts, often the simple past tense and past continuous. This led to a change in my teaching where I brought a greater grammatical focus to my writing classes that featured literacy autobiography assignments, and I believe this opened new possibilities for my students’ writing. While this is important in terms of my development as a teacher, seeing how a focus on grammar, sentence-level writing, and form shaped my students’ writing led to a reevaluation of my own English language writing habits with a much greater focus on form and grammar, possibly reflected in this paper’s construction. I focus now far more on grammar and tense and ask myself questions about alternatives far more than before. The same focus on form I use in my classes, I now bring into this writ­ ing, always looking for overly repetitive grammar, structure, and metaphor while asking myself if there are other forms that would offer other writing possibilities. At the same time that I began assigning English language literacy autobiographies, I started again writing my own literacy autobiography but this time, having returned to Korea, in Korean. This desire came out of my interest in teaching literacy autobiographies and was further developed by reading fascinating student literacy autobiographies. Beyond an interest in writing my literacy autobiography in Korean, my students’ wonderful lit­ eracy autobiographies inculcated within me a greater interest in my own English writing more generally, and seeing both their creativity and their tendency to, sometimes, only use forms and grammar they are most comfortable with made me much more critical of possible weaknesses within my own English writing. My literacy autobiography written in Korean has been my only major writing project in Korean, and I continue to occasion­ ally contribute further handwritten sections, acutely aware of how clumsy and awkward the Korean language prose is. Over the months and then years, my initial goals with my Korean language literacy autobiography faded and were replaced again by the textual pleasure of occasionally writing new paragraphs, revising older texts, and rewriting by


The author’s notes on the Korean Hangul script

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The author in his apartment in Daejeon, Korea, in front of his Korean vocabulary notes

Source: author

hand parts of this relatively smaller essay. As a means of literacy development, writing this text may not have directly contributed to language acquisition, but instead it gave me a way to occasionally enjoy my Korean literacy skills at a time when I was under greater pressure to produce English language texts for academic publishing. This literacy autobiography has explored several distinct threads of my multilingual language-learning life: my embodied experiences of crafting texts with pencil, pens, and paper; the pleasure I learned to take from writing; and my experiences reading, writing, teaching, and researching literacy autobiographies. I explored these because the issues of pleasurable embodied, sensory-rich, non-discursive elements of writing and the histories of academic essays are often overlooked and ignored in composition scholarship and in foreign language teaching scholarship, and yet these aspects profoundly shaped my learning and literacy development. It was the pleasurably embodied practices that kept me engaged in Korean, and the visceral satisfaction of completing an elementary school story book or a Korean language workbook still drives me forward. Examining my Korean language learning, I argue that viewing my activities as aspects of Korean language acquisition fails to consider the importance of play, joy, and embodied pleasure. Perhaps these languagelearning activities should be conceived more as recreation rather than language acquisi­ tion. I believe my account of my own language learning highlights the need for alternative

274 Part II: Students’ literacy autobiographies

ways of considering language learning such as recreation, play, or even a verbal and textual tourism and as such should draw upon fields such as tourism studies or recreation studies or other areas that do not usually interact with TESOL, composition, and language learning. In this text, I have explored my embodied experience of crafting texts and, risking ambitious metaphors, the development of a complex body of literacy autobiography texts. All have shaped my literacy development if only to let some forms of my literacy radi­ cally develop, such as my English academic writing, and others transform into something closer to pleasurable activities I engage in primarily as a hobby. Risking premature closure through a generalization, I believe the key insight of this narrative is to emphasize the importance of an embodied and historical context both in literacy practices and in the final text.

Note 1 I must thank Rod Pederson for granting permission for his name to be used here.

References Boldt, G. M. (1996). Sexist and heterosexist responses to gender bending in an elementary classroom. Curriculum Inquiry, 26(2), 113–131. Boldt, G. M. (2009a). Kyle and the basilisk: Understanding children’s writing as play. Language Arts, 87(1), 9–17. Boldt, G. M. (2009b).Theorizing passionate love in reading: A social-psychoanalytic theory. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 4(4), 246–263. Canagarajah, A. S. (1996). Non-discursive requirements in academic publishing, material resources of periphery scholars, and the politics of knowledge production. Written Communication, 13, 435–472. Canagarajah, S. (2001).The fortunate traveler: Shuttling between communities and literacies by econ­ omy class. In D. Belcher & U. Connor (Eds.), Reflections on multiliterate lives (pp. 23–37). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Canagarajah, S. (2011a). Codemeshing in academic writing: Identifying teachable strategies of translan­ guaging. The Modern Language Journal, 95(3), 401–417. Canagarajah, S. (2011b).Translanguaging in the classroom: Emerging issues for research and pedagogy. Applied Linguistics Review, 2(1),1–27. Canagarajah, A. S. (2012). Teacher development in a global profession: An autoethnography. TESOL Quarterly, 46(2), 258–279. Chesnut, M. (2011). Language learning through autobiographical writing: Additional possibilities in undergraduate interpreter and translator education. The Journal of Interpretation & Translation Educa­ tion, 9(1), 5–30. Chesnut, M., & Shulte, J. (2011, June). Literacy autobiographies as reflective practice for academic writing develop­ ment: A case study of Korean university students. Paper presented at the symposium in second language writing,Taipei, Republic of China Taiwan. Dobrin, S. I., & Weisser, C. R. (2002). Breaking ground in ecocomposition: Exploring relationships between discourse and environment. College English, 64(5), 566–589. Hawhee, D. (2006, Spring). Rhetoric, bodies, and everyday life. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 36(2), 155–164. Kramsch, C. (2009). The multilingual subject. New York. Oxford University Press. Kubota, R. (2011). Learning a foreign language as leisure and consumption: Enjoyment, desire, and the business of eikaiwa. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 14(4), 473–488. Newkirk, T. (1992). The narrative roots of case study. In G. Kirsch & P. Sullivan (Eds.), Methods and methodologies in composition research (pp. 130–152). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. Pavlenko,A. (2001). Language learning memoirs as a gendered genre. Applied Linguistics, 22(2), 213–240.

Recreation and education


Pavlenko,A. (2002). Narrative study:Whose story is it, anyway? TESOL Quarterly, 36(2), 213–218. Pederson, R. (2010). Conscientization and the discursive construction of identity across cultures: Using literacy autobiography as a reflective and analytical tool. 비교문화연구 Cross-Cultural Studies, 20, 149–182. Perl, S. (2004). Felt sense:Writing with the body. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton and Cook Heinemann. Sung, K.W. (2007). Glocalizing critical pedagogy: A case of critical English language teaching in Korea. In P. McLaren & J. L. Kincheloe (Eds.), Critical pedagogy:Where are we now? (pp. 163–181). New York: Peter Lang. Vincent, M., & Yeon, J. (1997). Teach yourself Korean:A complete course for beginners. London:Teach Yourself Books.


Note: Page numbers in italics indicate figures. Part II is indexed only by title of the literacy autobiographies. academic writing 58–60, 103, 130, 134 activity theory 18 adaptation tropes 32 affect 24 affordances 97–98, 100 agency 76, 93, 130–131 Ahmad, D. 103 Alexander, K. P. 27–28 alienation 56, 59–61 alignment 77, 120, 130 alphabetic literacy 71 Amanti, C. 53 ambience 130 analysis of narratives 42–43 analytic writing 25 Anderson, Randi 60–64, 198–216 Anglo-American students 5, 13n2, 31, 59 Anzaldúa, G. 8, 22, 33 Appadurai, A. 131 artifacts 103 arts-based educational research (ABER) 89–90, 92 assessment 104, 124–126, 129 attunement 76, 130 autobiographical ethnography 23 autobiographies 23 autoethnographies 21–23 autonomous literacy 70–72, 74, 78 Bakhtin, M. 76 Barkhuizen, G. 42, 45 becoming trope: identity development and 65; liminality and 64–65; little narratives and 28–29; mobility and 38; native English

speakers 31; non-representational thinking and 30; transnational writers and 29–34, 51 “Beyond Contrastive Rhetoric” (Zhao) 228–233 Bhabha, H. K. 30, 51 Bible 72–73 big stories 43 Blommaert, J. 70 Bochner,A. P. 23 Borderland/La Frontera (Anzaldúa) 22 bounded texts 78 Bourdieu, P. 99 Brandt, D. 39 “Buenos Aires Mon Amour” (Guzman) 253–261 Bulosan, C. 32 Cadman, K. 9 Casanave, C. P. 103 Chesnut, Michael: academic writing and 58–59; arts-based educational research (ABER) and 89–90; codemeshing and 83; entextualization and 82; Korean vocabulary and 273; multimodality and 86, 89; notes on Korean Hangul script 272; “Recreation and Education” 262–274; semiotic resources and 57; writing objectives of 63, 81 citizenship narratives 32 classroom contact zones 101–104 codemeshing: defining 6; dominant norms and 9–10; in interactions 83; motivation for 10; multilingual/migrant writers and 9–12, 55; pedagogy and 11; rhetorical context and 39; studies of 8 codeswitching 8, 44, 51 colonization 22, 73


communities 69–70, 72–74 communities of practice 21, 79, 91–93

Connor, U. 109–110, 122

contact zones (CZ) pedagogy 5–6, 21–22, 73,

78; assessment and 104; course artifacts and

103; dispositions and 104–105; ecological

orientation to 102–105, 120; participants and

103; process and 102; structures and 103–104;

transnational literacies and 101–105

contextualization cues 76–77 Cooney, B. 31, 62

cosmopolitanism 62–63, 67, 73

creative reading strategies 27

Critical Academic Writing and Multilingual Students (Canagarajah) 103, 110, 128, 131

cultural differences 22


Ferris, D. 103

Fishman, J.A. 53, 55

formative assessment 129

Foucault, M. 51, 53

Ge, Xiaoqing 235–241 Geisler, C. 134

genres: autoethnographies 21–23; fluidity of 37; liminality and 26; literacy narrative (LN) 21–22; literature of the contact zone 21–22; narratives of socialization 21–22; research 23–24; transferability and 133–134 globalization 5, 7, 38

Goffman, E. 44, 76

Golombek, P. 18, 20

Gonzalez, N. 53

Goody, J. 71

De Certeau, M. 72

Graff, H. 28

Deleuze, G. 29

grand narratives 134

desire 56, 59

grounded theory 43–44 Dingo, R. 136

Guamán Poma de Ayala, Felipe 8

dispersed practices 74–75 Guattari, F. 29

dispositions: defining 99; depth of awareness

Guerrattaz, A. 98

in 129; development of 98, 102, 104–105,

Gumperz, J. J. 76

120–121; extent of reflexivity in 129; language Guzman, Natalia 59, 253–261 awareness and 99–100; negotiation strategies

and 99; neoliberalism and 136; nomadic

habitus 99

consciousness and 98; rhetorical sensibility

Harris, J. 25

and 99; trajectories of learning in 129;

Havelock, E. 71

transferability and 135; transnational literacies

Hawisher, G. 29, 39

and 100–101

Heath, S. B. 53, 71–73

dominant literacy norms 9–10, 129–130 Hedgcock, J. 103

duoethnography 40

historical context 38

Hoffman, E. 8, 33, 59

ecological resources 97–98, 100, 102–105, 120

Hunger of Memory (Rodriguez) 8, 32

Eldred, J. 21, 27

hybridity trope 32–33, 38

Ellis, C. 23

hybridization 30–31, 39, 51, 125

emplacement 76–77, 86, 91, 130

entextualization: agency and 93; diverse resources identity development: alienation in 56,

and 75, 77, 136; envoicing and 81, 83, 90;

59–61; becoming trope and 65; desire in

fonts/icons in 81–82, 92; indexicality and 77,

56, 59; hybridization and 51; language and

82; interactional strategies and 81, 88; literacy

51–52; limits of the self in 45–47; literacy

autobiographies and 158; material resources in

autobiographies and 23; narrative in 18, 20;

133; multimodality and 84; recontextualization

pedagogy and 126; reflection and 23; subject­ and 90; revision of 78; student/teacher

in-process and 56; translingual subject and 50

feedback and 107

ideological conflicts 22

envoicing: defining 75–76; entextualization

ideological literacy 72

and 81, 83, 90; indexicality and 76; literacy

“Image and Learning:The Story of My Literacy” autobiographies and 157; as negotiation

(Jiang) 190–196 strategy 75; performativity and 92–93;

immigrant narratives 38

recontextualization and 76; unconventional

indexicality 76, 81–82, 84

strategies and 79–80, 84–85, 87, 90–91, 111

instrumental motivation 50

ESL composition syllabus 141–144

integrative motivation 50

ethnographies 23

interactional strategies 75, 77, 81, 84–89, 158

evocative writing 24–25

interactive narratives 40

examination 127

interview procedures 24

externalization 18–19, 127

investment 51

278 Index

Jacques, B. 81 Jiang, Jialei 63, 190–196 Johnson, K. 10, 18, 20 Johnston, B. 98 Kaplan, A. 59 knowledge: construction of 24, 42, 134; narrative forms of 24; procedural 135; propositional 135; resistant 25; rhetorical 24–25; self as basis for 24; as a shaped product 42, 45 Kraemer, D., Jr. 37 Kramsch, C. 8, 50–53, 55, 56, 57, 59 Kristeva, J. 51–52 Kubota, R. 9 LA see literacy autobiographies (LA) Labov, W. 44 Lacan, J. 51–52 Lai, Jingjing 218–227 language and literacy development: affordances in 97–98; alienation and 56, 59–61; constraint and 60; crisis and 61; desire and 56, 59; dispositions and 98–100; ecological resources and 97–98; epiphany and 61–63; illegitimacy and 60–61; inaccessibility and 60; instrumental motivation and 50; integrative motivation and 50; investment in 51; language ideologies and 53–55; liminal language identities and 51; literacy autobiographies and 23–25; literacy narratives and 21–22; narratives of socialization and 22; prejudice and 60; separation and 61; theoretical orientation to 51–53 language awareness 99–100, 121, 134 Language Choice and Language Shift in Tibetan Families in Luozu Village (Tso) 138 language ideologies 6, 53–55 learning see language and literacy development learning communities 92 Lee, E. 43 Lee, Eunjeong 59, 242–252 life reality narrative analysis 43 liminality: becoming trope and 64–65; crossover and 26; literacy autobiographies and 4–5, 8–9, 26–28, 33; translingual subjects and 51, 53, 63–64; as trope of multilingual/marginalized writers 26, 28 linguistic creativity 51 literacy autobiographies (LA): analysis of 42–45; analytic/evocative in 25; defining 4, 20–21, 25–27; discussion questions 157; end-of­ course interview 152–153; externalization and 18–19; genres of 21–23, 26; liminality of 4–5, 8–9, 26–28, 33; literacy development and 23–25; midterm reflection 151; narrative/ argumentative in 25; pedagogy and 11; performative dimensions of 20, 82, 93; personal and scholarly 27; personal/scholarly in 25–26;

professionals and 23; project description 148–151; representation and 20; as a research genre 23–24; as a shaped product 27, 37–42, 45; social/individual in 25; social networks and 25; student writers 11–13; systematic examination and 18–20; transferability and 133–136; translingual 6; transnational writers and 4, 6–8, 29–34; verbalization and 18–19; see also personal narratives literacy autobiography: adaptive strategies of 122; assessment and 124–126; authorial identity in 106–107, 110; critical reflexivity in 110–111, 115; dispositions in 109, 120–121, 125; ecological affordances and 111; ecological resources and 105, 113–114; feelings in 112–114; language awareness and 121; negotiation strategies and 104–105, 118–119, 121–122; performativity of 122; rhetorical sensibility and 108–109, 115, 117, 121; rooted translingualism in 108, 110, 120–121; selfreflection and 119–121; semiotic resources and 112; student feedback on 106–109, 111, 114; textual resources and 113, 118, 120; trajectories in 116–117, 119 literacy autobiography examples:“Beyond Contrastive Rhetoric” (Zhao) 228–234; “Buenos Aires Mon Amour” (Guzman) 253–261;“Image and Learning:The Story of My Literacy” (Jiang) 190–197;“Mermaid’s Immortal Soul,The” (Anderson) 198–217; “Negotiating Contrasting Languages and Rhetorics” (Lai) 218–227;“Reconstructing Voice” (Lee) 242–252;“Recreation and Education” (Chesnut) 262–271, 272, 273, 273, 274–275;“Rediscovering Heritage Identity Through Literacy” (Tso) 175–180;“Shuttling Between Three Languages and Rhetorics” (Ge) 235–241;“Writing Toward Beauty” (Sauder) 159–174;“Writing With a Chinese Heart” (Miao) 181–189 literacy development see language and literacy development literacy narrative (LN): adaptation tropes 32; defining 21; literacy development and 22; literacy trope of 21, 27–28; pedagogy and 11–12, 37; power tropes 32; state of grace tropes 32–33 literacy practices: alphabetic literacy and 71; autonomous literacy and 70–72, 74, 78; colonization and 22; dispersed 74–75; dominant orientations to 28, 70–71; fluidity of 70; ideological literacy and 72; local communities and 71–72; mobility in 70; negotiated literacy and 70, 74–75, 78; new literacies and 72; performative 74; scriptural literacy and 72; social literacy and 70, 72–73 literacy socialization 97–98


literacy tropes: adaptation 32; becoming 28–34;

child prodigy story 28; grand narratives in

134; hybridity 32–33, 38; ideology of 27–28;

literacy narratives and 21, 27–28; little

narrative in 28–29; master narrative in 27–28;

migration 38; minor narratives in 29, 134;

power 32; resistance and 28; state of grace

32–33; success narrative 27–29, 32; victim

story 27–28

literature of the contact zone 21–22 little narratives 28–29 Lost in Translation (Hoffman) 8

Lu, M-Z. 8

marginalized writers 22, 26, 28; see also

multilingual/migrant writers

master narrative 27–28 material context 41–42 material ecologies 72, 78

materiality 130

materiality of texts 73–74 “Mermaid’s Immortal Soul,The” (Anderson) 198–216 methodological nationalism 5

Miao, Lifeng 57, 60–62, 159–160, 181–189 migrant writers see multilingual/migrant writers migration tropes 38

minor narratives 29, 134

mobility: community diversification and

73–74; creative expression and 55; literacy

socialization and 98; nomadic consciousness

in 98; reconceptualization of home and 30;

rhetorical practices and 20; social discourse on

38; textual 70, 72–75; transnationalism and 7

Moll, L. 53

monolingual ideologies 53–55, 58–60 montage 79

Mortensen, P. 21, 27

multilingual/migrant writers: becoming trope and 29–34; codemeshing and 9–12, 55; cultural resources of 84; disorientation and 3; empowerment of 9, 11–12, 23; experiences of 18; hybridity trope 38; interactional strategies 84–89; liminality and 26; literacy autobiographies and 11–12, 56; little narratives 28–29; monolingual ideologies 53–54; narrative languages 6, 43, 51–53; narrative modalities 43; negotiation strategies 82–91; recontextualization 84, 89–90; translingual ideologies 54; transnational/liminal trope and 8; see also transnational writers Myers, G. 134

narrative analysis: big/small stories and 43; defining 42–43; ethnographic orientation to 44–45; grounded theory and 43–44; life reality 43; multilingual/migrant writers and


43; production context and 44; subject reality 43; text reality 43; theoretical frameworks for 43–44 narrative knowledging 42, 45

narratives: argument and 25; big/small stories

43; citizenship 32; grand 134; interactive

40; knowledge and 24; minor 29, 134;

multimodality and 72; personal 4, 25; reasoning

through affect and 24

narratives of socialization 21–22 nation-state 4–5, 33

native English speakers: becoming trope and 31;

changing orientations of 92–93; defining 5,

13n1; nativism and 67; transnational identity

and 41, 66; transnational positioning and 31, 33

negotiated literacy: co-construction of texts 75;

dispersed practices 74–75; materiality of texts

and 74; meaning-making and 74, 76–78, 86,

88; mobile texts and 70; multimodality and 84,

86; practicing 78–79; writerly texts and 81, 85

“Negotiating Contrasting Languages and Rhetorics” (Lai) 218–227 negotiation strategies: agency and 76; codemeshing

83; dispositions and 99; emplacement 86;

entextualization 75, 77–78, 81–83, 88, 92;

entextualization and 84; envoicing 75–76,

79–80, 84–85, 87, 90–91; externalization 82;

interactional 75, 77, 81, 84–89; pedagogy and

134; recontextualization 75–77, 84, 89–90;

transnational writers and 69–71

neoliberalism 7, 38, 46, 136

New Criticism 71

new literacies 72

nomadic consciousness 98

non-representational thinking 30, 102

Norton Peirce, B. 51

otherness 50

ownership ideologies 60

participants 103

Pavlenko,A. 7, 38, 43

pedagogy: codemeshing and 11; contact zones

(CZ) 101–105, 120; identity development

and 126; literacy autobiographies and 11, 41,

100–101; translingualism and 11, 13, 131;

transnational 130

pedagogy of networking 136

performativity 20, 82, 93, 132–133

peripheral normativity 69

periphery literacy 69–70 personal narratives: analytic and evocative 25; argument and 25; context of 135–136; as crossover genres 26; intertextual nature of 27; knowledge construction and 134; professionals and 4; see also literacy autobiographies (LA) politics of hope 136–137

280 Index

power tropes 32

Pratt, M. L. 22, 73

privileged communities 70

procedural knowledge 135

process 102

production context 39–41, 44

professionals 4, 21–23

propositional knowledge 135

Pygmalion (Shaw) 21

Ratcliffe, K. 74

readerly texts 81, 132

reading strategies 27

“Reconstructing Voice” (Lee) 242–252 recontextualization 75–77, 84, 89–90, 158

“Recreation and Education” (Chesnut) 262–274 “Rediscovering Heritage Identity Through Literacy” (Tso) 175–180 reflexivity 63–66 representation 20, 128

research context 39–41 rhetorical context 38–39 rhetorical creativity 51

rhetorical practices 17, 19–20 rhetorical sensibility 99–100, 121, 125, 134

Robillard, A. 37

Rodriguez, R. 8, 12, 32–33 rooted translingualism 108, 110, 120–121

Rotten English (Ahmad) 103

Sauder, Ruth Parrish 31, 58–59, 159–173 Scenters-Zapico, J. 29

Schatzki, T. 74

scholarly discourses 25–26, 30

Scribner, S. 32

scriptural literacy 72

second language writing (SLW) orientations 103

self 24, 45–47 self-construction 46

Selfe, C. 29, 39

self-reflections 40

self-representation 46–47 self-understanding 45–46 semiotic resources: arts-based educational

research and 89; childhood/elementary school

57; childhood/home 56–57, 66; emplacement

and 77; entextualization and 77, 81; envoicing

87; indexicality and 76, 81, 84; interactional

strategies and 77; nonlinear juxtapositions

83; recontextualization and 77, 84; rhetorical

hybridization and 132; unconventional 79–81,

89–90; writing and 6

shaped genres: historical context and 38;

knowledge and 42; literacy autobiographies

and 27, 37; material context and 41–42;

pedagogy and 37, 41; production context and

39–41; research context and 39–41; rhetorical

context and 38–39

Sharma, G. 18

Shaw, B. 21

Shen, F. 8

“Shuttling Between Three Languages and Rhetorics” (Ge) 235–241 situated learning 21

small stories 43

Smitherman, G. 41, 103

social encounters 22

social literacy 70, 72–74 social networks 25, 72, 78

Soliday, M. 26, 33, 37

Spack, R. 127

spatiality 130

Standard English 6

state of grace tropes 32–33 Street, B. 71

structures 103–104 subject-in-process 50, 56, 65

subject reality narrative analysis 43

subtractive bilingualism 108

success narrative 27–29, 32

summative assessment 129

Swales, J. 69

syllabus: ESL composition 141–144;Teaching Second Language writing 144–148 systematic examination 18–20 Tamil 36, 67, 70, 72–73, 132

teacher development: assessment and 124–126, 129; changes in practice 128–131; changes in writing 131–133; co-construction of meaning and 130; dominant literacy norms and 129–130; literacy autobiographies and 10, 100; narratives of 10–11; narrativizing 127–128; ongoing learning and 127; politics of hope in 136–137; research orientation to 127; second language writing (SLW) orientations in 103; self-reflection and 126–127; student dispositions and 129; translingual pedagogy and 131; writer agency and 130–131 Teaching Second Language writing syllabus 144–148 text/context separation 133

text reality narrative analysis 43

texts: bounded 78; co-construction of 75;

co-construction of meaning and 130; hybridity

of 125; material ecologies of 72, 78; materiality

of 73–74; mobility and 74–75; negotiation

strategies and 75–78; readerly 81, 132; social

networks and 72, 78; writerly 81, 132

textual mobility 70, 72–73 transferability 133–136 translanguaging 12, 44

translingual ideologies 54–55, 63–64 translingualism: defining 6; language contact and 7; literacy autobiographies and 6; narratives of


8; pedagogy and 11, 13; trajectory into 56–66;

transnationalism and 55, 65; transnational social

fields and 6, 17

translingual literacies 12–13 translingual subjects: codemeshing and 55;

codeswitching and 51; defining 50; identity

construction and 50–63, 66; liminal identities

and 51, 53, 63–65; monolingual ideologies and

58–61; pedagogy and 65–66; reflexivity and

63–66; rhetorical creativity and 51; semiotic

resources and 56–57, 66; subject-in-process

status 65; theoretical orientation to language

in 51–53

transnational identity 8, 41

transnationalism 4, 7, 55, 65

transnational literacies 99–105 transnational social fields: defining 5; liminality

and 64–65; otherness and 50; textual

migrations and 70; translingual ideologies and

63–64; translingualism and 6, 17; transnational

writers and 30, 50

transnational writers: agency and 93, 130;

becoming trope 29–34, 51; hybridity trope

32–33, 38; literacy autobiographies and 4, 6–8;

nation-state positioning of 33; negotiation

strategies of 69–71; self-reflections 40; see also

multilingual/migrant writers

Tso, Bendi 58, 61–64, 137–138, 175–180


unconventional writing 79–81, 89–90 underprivileged communities 69–70 Van Lier, L. 97–98

verbalization 18–19, 127

Villaneuva,V. 8, 32

Vygotsky, L. 18

Waletzky, J. 44

washback 104

Willard-Traub, M. 21, 26

Williams, B. 18

writerly texts 81, 85, 132

writing: academic 58–60, 103, 130, 134; evocative

24–25; habits of mind in 134; performativity of 132–133; rhetorical hybridization and 131–132; rhetorical strategies for 131; semiotic resources and 132; text/context separation in 133; writerly texts and 132; see also personal narratives writing-stories 23

“Writing Toward Beauty” (Sauder) 159–173

“Writing With a Chinese Heart” (Miao)

181–189 Young, M. 8, 28–29, 32–33, 37

Zhao, Shuo 58–62, 228–233