The paper explores a number of implications arising from the combination of the New Literacy Studies and cultural-historical psychology - in particular, the concept of literacy as social practice and the psychological category of activity. Placing 'social' at the centre of literacy and psychological studies, these two perspectives are fruitfully combined in the service of a particular literacy learning research framework. The focus on the social in literacy practices implies certain understanding of configurations and reconfigurations of the elements which constitute those practices (Gee, 2000a). Activity Theory in this respect can be used to provide a broad conceptual framework for literacy research and the learning practice design. It functions therefore as a powerful and clarifying descriptive tool in studies of the human trajectories in literacy learning contexts in both its comprehensiveness and its engagement with the difficult issues of consciousness, intertextual memory, intentionality, mediation, intersubjectivity, history and change.