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C&T Colloquium: Defining Literacy as a Social Practice: Implications for New Literacies Research & Classroom Practice, with Michelle Kobel

Defining literacy in terms of "social practice" is reasonably common within sociocultural orientations towards literacy research. Oftentimes, however, the meaning of "social practice" is not explicitly defined in the education research literature, with the effect that it becomes difficult to see the salience of taking on this particular orientation towards understanding literacy. This presentation focuses on one way of explicitly conceptualizing "social practice" and examines how this, in turn, can shape and inform the study of new literacies. Using examples from studying young people's literacies across a range of popular spaces and purposes, this paper also examines some of the implications for classroom practice to be found in new literacies research that makes use of a "social practice" conception of literacy.

Michele Knobel is a Professor of Education at Montclair State University (Clifton, New Jersey). She has taught elementary school in Australia, and has worked within teacher education in Australia, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. She is especially interested in young people's literacy practices online and offline, and how many of these practices embody significant changes in what it means to "be literate" in current times. Her books include, among others: New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning (with Colin Lankshear; 2011, 3rd ed, Peter Lang), Handbook of Research on New Literacies (edited with Juklie Coiro, Colin Lankshear and Don Leu; 2008, Erlbaum), A New Literacies Sampler (edited with Colin Lanskhear; 2007, Peter Lang) and A Handbook for Teacher Research (with Colin Lankshear; 2004, Open University Press. Translated into Chinese and Portuguese). Samples of her work can be found at:

Persons interested in attending may rsvp via online support by Friday, April 12th.

Where: 305 Russell


Initiated in the Fall 2012, the Curriculum and Teaching Colloquium Series serves as a privileged space for students to gain a broader awareness of curricular discussions with international and national scholars.

Individuals with disabilities are invited to request reasonable accommodations including, but not limited to sign language interpretation, Braille or large print materials, and a campus map of accessible features. Address these requests to the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities at (212) 678-3689,, or Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services at (212) 678-3853 V/TTY.


  • Jennifer Govan
  • 678-3022
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