Jeffrey Thomas Grabill

Situating literacies and community literacy programs: A critical rhetoric for institutional change

Jeffrey Thomas Grabill

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 1997; pp: 264
  • Advisor: Sullivan, Patricia
  • Source: DAI-A 58/09, p. 3505, Mar 1998
  • Subjects: Language, Rhetoric And Composition (0681); Education, Language and Literature (0279)
  • ProQuest Document Number: 736653031
  • ISBN: 0-591-58886-2
  • UMI Number: AAT 9808450

Abstract:

    • This study explored the possibilities for community literacy practices through an examination that crossed the gaps between university and community contexts. A primary methodology for accomplishing its purposes was an institutional case that described a community literacy program and interrelated the practices of that program with the arguments of various literacy theories about what its practices were or should be. The study points to limitations in the ways some literacy theories construct ‘literacy,’ particularly those that ‘abstract’ the concept. The study also argues that it is important to understand how a community literacy institution defines literacy within that local context. Its focal argument is that ‘institutions’ (like schools, workplaces, community literacy programs) are a fundamental factor in establishing the meaning and value of literacy in a given context. In this regard, the study argues that inquiry into the meanings and values of literacy should account for local institutional structures, and that in attempts to change the meanings of literacy, a local institution must focus on changing the institution itself, not just the learners. Toward beginning the process of advocating local institutional change, the study develops a set of heuristics for inquiry into literacy and a rhetoric for institutional change that are useful for helping to create politically and ethically ‘just’ and ‘democratic’ literacy institutions.