A Queer Critical Media Literacies Framework: exploring conceptual resources for teachers to respond to LGBTIQ+ themes in everyday media content and beyond

Year: 2018

Author: van Leent, Lisa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This work is interested in exploring conceptual resources for teachers to respond to LGBTIQ+ themes in everyday media content and beyond. Adolescents ‘see’ texts with diverse genders and sexualities content, issues and themes. Notions of childhood innocence remind us that it’s not just adolescents, but that younger students access information about gender identity and sexual orientation (Robinson, 2013). For example, websites, blogs, and videos promote the top LGBTIQ+ YouTubers and YouTube channels (see, e.g., Murphy, 2016).
So, how can teachers implement queer critical media literacies practices in a digital age, when textual practices include, but extend beyond, print- based material?
This project presents a Queer Critical Media Literacies Framework to prompt and develop some thinking so teachers can critically engage their students with digital sources. The aim is to support educators as they work with digital sources that now form part of a globalized communication environment in adolescents’ lives, such as video games (Garcia, 2017), video- and image- sharing platforms (e.g., YouTube, Instagram), Web searches, Snapchat, and other social media sites (e.g., WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter).
The framework was developed with the intention to provide structure or points of reference for teachers to work with students about thinking critically about how the ‘read’ media texts. The key features include: Recognising Rights: How are human rights regarding gender and sexualities represented or denied in this digital text? Reflecting Dialogically: Constructing meaning with others. How are gender and sexualities represented in this text? Why or why not? Reconstructing Representations: What are the historical or cultural assumptions about gender and sexuality that have influenced the production of this text?
Reconnecting Intersectionalities: How are intersections valued/prioritised, open/closed, named/not named, implicit/explicit, fluid/fixed?
The model is put forward tentatively to be seen as flexible and open to revision and refinement by other researchers and educators. The model was inspired by Miller’s (2015) queer literacy framework, in combination with critical media literacies and other literacy approaches. Queering critical literacies in digital contexts extends a queer youth reading of traditional texts (Blackburn, 2003), and the queering of literature, to include a queering of digital textual practices—both reading and producing media texts.
Literacy learners need the conceptual tools to identify and critique the ideological assumptions and silences of texts on the issues of gender and sexualities, rather than becoming uncritical, confused, or silent consumers.