Critical literacy, language and gender

Year: 1994

Author: Cartwright, Patricia

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper will explore the proposition that writing pedagogy can be used to investigate the relationship between literacy and social structure and between curriculum and critical pedagogy. The aim is to consider the importance of language in the construction and maintenance of social power and control, and to discuss the development of a critical literacy that is grounded pedagogically in a politics of difference and which goes on to directly introduce those knowledges, discourses, texts and genres necessary for academic success and sociocultural power.

The research on which this paper is based has been taking place in an enabling, or bridging, program, the objectives of which are to provide students with those skills that would enable them to participate successfully in tertiary study. Essential though these skills are, they do not necessarily address the construction and maintenance of the dominant discourses in society, which marginalise certain individuals, and perpetuate social inequality. Students are engaged in the construction and critique of varying texts, as well as critical journal writing in which they investigate and contest varying issues in society and education. Texts from journal writing are analysed using feminist poststructuralist analysis as an interpretive framework. This analysis allows an examination and interrogation of the conflicting, partial and contradictory discourses present in journal writing, together with a focus on relations of power and the multiple subjectivities that are available to individuals in society. The findings of this research will have application to the development of pedagogies for the exploration and implementation of critical literacy in general, and for adult continuing education in particular.