Literacy Narrative Assignment: Your Story About a Discourse/Community

Literacy Narrative Assignment: Your Story About a Discourse/Community

A Literacy Narrative is an autobiographical story about your experience/s with literacy, language, and communication. Tell a story about struggling with or feeling empowered by learning how to communicate/become literate in a particular discourse community. Your goal here is to narrate a story that describes vividly your experiences with a particular literacy and to reflect on why and how your experiences were significant.  Think of this assignment as a combination of creative storytelling and honest reflection about how a discourse community’s way of communicating has shaped your identity in some important way.  I like to tell students to think about a time they were transformed or deeply affected by learning the rules of communication in a particular community.

James Gee explains that “Discourses are ways of being in the world, or forms of life which integrate words, acts, values, beliefs, attitudes, social identities, as well as gestures, glances, body positions and clothes. A Discourse is a sort of ‘identity kit’ which comes complete with the appropriate costume and instructions on how to act, talk, and often write, so as to take on a particular social role that others will recognize.” This means “literacy” isn’t about just reading and writing, but learning about how to work in and contribute to a community. 

The purpose of this assignment is to (continue to) reflect on some aspect of your history as a writer/reader/language user and how language has shaped your identity, values, beliefs, behavior, or worldview. Your story needs to have a point, a lesson, a “So What?” Was there a lesson learned?  What did you learn as you succeeded or failed at the literacy you attempted? How is your story unique (or not unique)? How have you been shaped by a particular language practice?

And again, as usual, we will discuss and explore the parameters of this assignment.  This genre of writing is more creative, using concrete detail, narration, and story telling.

You may pick one specific event  you can chronicle a literacy history chronologically, or you can write about several events though one uniting theme. 

You are encouraged to narrate experiences that take place inside or outside of educational settings. You learn many discourses in your life, all of which shape you important ways. We become literate in many different discourses and communities throughout our lives– personal, vocational, educational, spiritual, extra curricular, and more.  

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