Action Heroes and Literate Sidekicks: Literacy and Identity in Popular Culture

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Abstract

The question is not whether literacy practices are present in contemporary popular culture—it is hard not to find a movie or program without some representation of literacy in it. The more important and useful question is, How do we in the audience interpret the literacy practices we find in popular culture? What do such representations tell us about how we think of the ways that reading and writing construct our public identities? In the classroom, how do we encourage students to situate themselves in relationship to the identities they see portrayed in popular culture? Teachers need to help students think carefully about the myths and realities of literacy and consider whether their experiences and goals for reading and writing are similar to or different from the narratives about literacy that get repeated in popular culture.

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