Sunday, August 31, 2014

Third new book in our series! "English Teaching and New Literacies Pedagogy"

It's raining riches all down around us at the moment in terms of new books coming out in our "New Literacies" series. Len Unsworth and Angela Thomas have put together a wonderful collection of chapters in their edited volume, English Teaching and New Literacies Pedagogy. Both Len and Angela have an international track record in researching, thinking about and theorizing English/literacy education and digital media and they've brought together authors who write about a wide, innovative range of new media and how they can be taken up in classrooms.

From the back cover:
[This collection] is about the fusion of media and narrative, and explores theoretical and practical dimensions of young people’s engagement with contemporary forms of text. It showcases a range of critical interpretative approaches for integrating multimedia narratives into English teaching contexts, including animated films such as Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing, digital novels such as Inanimate Alice and 5 Haitis, and a virtual treatment of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. English teachers across grade levels will recognize the valuing of literature and will appreciate the practical pedagogy and fostering of creativity as students are encouraged to explore new forms of narrative. In the context of developing expertise in knowing how multimodal texts work, students can apply that knowledge in their own authoring of digital multimedia narratives.
Contents include:

The collection as a whole emphasizes authoring/producing by means of new media and how teachers can engage with new literacies meaningfully in school contexts. 

Another lovely new book in our series: "Community-Based Multiliteracies and Digital Media Projects"

Heather Pleasants and Dana Salter have included an engaging and insightful set of accounts from a wide range of community-based project workers--authors who often don't find a voice in academic spaces but whose work is hugely important everywhere--in their edited collection, Community-Based Multiliteracies and Digital Media Projects. As the back cover blurb explains:

Within community-based digital literacies work, a fundamental question remains unanswered: Where are the stories and reflections of the researchers, scholars, and community workers themselves? We have learned much about contexts, discourses, and the multimodal nature of meaning making in literacy and digital media experiences. However, we have learned very little about those who initiate, facilitate, and direct these community-based multiliteracies and digital media projects. In Community-Based Multiliteracies & Digital Media Projects: Questioning Assumptions and Exploring Realities, contributors discuss exemplary work in the field of community-based digital literacies, while providing an insightful and critical perspective on how we begin to write ourselves into the stories of our work. In doing so, the book makes a powerful contribution to digital literacies praxis and pedagogy - within and outside of community-based contexts.
A particular strength of the various chapters in this collection is that the authors do not shy away from talking about things that went awry or didn't work out so well (and reasons why), along with what did work.  There are so many practical insights for non-profit community groups in this book that will help to smooth project development and implementation, as well as theoretical insights that help us to think more clearly about what it means to be part of/work with communities.

Contents incude:

And reviews are already streaming in for this collection and include comments such as:

"What I so appreciate about this important volume is that the authors take up as central the kinds of conversations that too often only happen off the record. Fearlessly, they explore the messiness of research on digital media literacies. They ask what to do when things don’t go as planned, when deeply personal stories go public, when intentions bump up against realities within the politics of ‘doing good.’ We all need to think deeply about these issues together, and to speak of them out loud and on the record. We need methods to embed reflection and critical analysis of process into multiliteracies research, which is precisely the mandate this collection delivers on, with clarity and courage." (Dr. Elisabeth Soep, Senior Producer and Research Director, Youth Radio)

"By playing at the intersection of the digital literacy and community context, the editors and their co-authors move beyond traditional conversations about the pedagogical and programmatic mechanics of utilizing digital media to the criti-cal examination of digital literacies in specific contexts and the associated chal-lenges that accompany this work. As a STEAM educator and community advocate, I believe that through their work, Heather M. Pleasants and Dana E. Salter have created an invaluable space to interrogate some of the key questions facing those hoping to empower educators and students to utilize digital media to change and improve their world." (Dr. Brian Williams, Director, Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence, and Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Education, Georgia State University)

"This is a beautifully conceptualized collection. The editors have invited experienced, self-reflective, community-based practitioners to ‘write themselves into the story’ of their work and the result is a nuanced conversation about the intricacies, ambiguities, challenges, and the inspiration of collaborating across boundaries to create media that matter. The insights shared and questions explored are invaluably generative. They help us think critically about the ethics, integrity, and purposes of our labor. They remind us that reflection into process is not for the footnotes; rather, it is central to the story of social justice work." (Darcy Alexandra, visual anthropologist, writer, educator, and documentary practitioner, Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland)

New book in our series: "Youth Community Inquiry: New Media for Community and Personal Growth"

We're so happy to announce the publication of Chip Bruce, Ann Bishop and Nama Budhathoki's edited collection: Youth Community Inquiry: New Media for Community and Personal Growth. The editors are serious about presenting work that truly engages youth in using a wide range of digital media (GPS tech, to video production, podcasts, internet radio, using online databases and archives etc.) as they engage directly in communities. As the back cover blurb explains:
Youth Community Inquiry offers a detailed look at how young people use new media to help their communities thrive. Chapters address questions about learning, digital technology, and community engagement through the theory of community inquiry. The settings range from a small farming town, to a mostly immigrant community, to inner-city Chicago, and include youth from ages eight to 20. Going beyond works on social media in a narrow sense, the projects in these settings involve the use of varied technologies, such as GPS/GIS mapping tools, video production, use of archives and databases, podcasts, and Internet radio. The development of inquiry-based activities serves as a record of the diverse experiences and a guide to future projects. The book concludes with an overview of a curriculum that readers may adapt for their own settings.
Edited by three internationally renown scholars whose body of work in community inquiry has long shaped and informed this important field, the book's contents include:

At a time when the term "community" is bandied about to refer to almost any kind of gathering of people, Youth Community Inquiry really puts teeth into what it means to be part of--and to contribute to--an ethical discourse and practice of democratic collectivity. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Call for book proposals for our series: New Literacies

Those of you in the northern hemisphere who have enjoyed a restful and restorative summer and who are ready to get back into work with gusto, and those of you in the southern hemisphere who are heading into a lessening of winter and starting to feel your blood quicken in your veins, might want to think about working on a book proposal to submit for consideration for publication in our series with Peter Lang

The series--New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies--focusses on publishing single-authored and edited books that focus on some aspect of new literacies. For us, new literacies are best described as newly developed or newly understood "socially recognized ways of generating, communicating and negotiating meaningful content through the medium of encoded texts within contexts of participation in Discourses (or, as members of Discourses)” (Lankshear and Knobel 2006: 64). The series does have a definite lean towards sociocultural theorisations of literacy practices, but not exclusively so. To obtain a sense of what's already been published in this series, and the kinds of things we're looking for, click here, then type "new literacies" into the series title window. Our scope is really quite open.

In terms of putting together a book proposal, the following template offers a starting place.

Book proposal template

1. Proposed book title

2. Author details

3. Summary description of and rationale for proposed book (a paragraph or two)

4. Statement regarding intended audience or readership

5. Competing books in the area
Identify closest competitors and explain how your book will differ from these.

6. Course relevance
If possible, sketch ideas for specific university courses and the like where this book can be used. Part of submitting a successful proposal is showing a market exists for it.

7. Background to the proposed book
This is a more extended explanation of the proposed book. This section may well have a bibliography

8. Features
Explicitly identify things in the proposed book that make it distinctive

9. Recent Relevant Publications
List relevant publications that show you have an established track record

10. Provisional Outline of Contents
Provide a chapter-by-chapter account of the proposed book; include proposed author names if proposing an edited collection

11. Approximate Word Length
95,000 words (including the bibliography/ies is a good length to aim at)

12. Timetable
Indicate a realistic date for completion of the manuscript

Additional tips
  • Describing your proposed book in terms of it being based on your doctoral research, or on a conference symposium, won’t work in your favour

  • Write your proposal with an international audience in mind (e.g., don’t use terms like “sophomore” or regional acronyms; don’t assume widespread knowledge of a regional policy)

  • Be as succinct and to-the-point as possible (5 single-spaced pages for an entire proposal is a typical median length)

You can also get in touch with Michele ( and ask for advice or sample proposals, too. Email her your finished proposals and we'll set them on the review path.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Farewell to Jack Shallcrass: a splendid man who led an inspired and inspiring life

From friends in New Zealand comes the sad news of Jack Shallcrass's death. Well into his 90s at his passing, Jack will be remembered as among New Zealand's most inspired and inspiring humanist educators. A lover of fine arts and fine music, indeed, of creative endeavour in any form, Jack advocated ceaselessly throughout a very long and active career and retirement for the deepest values of liberal expansiveness. He championed the abiding worth of human imagination turned to constructive visions and purposes. He treasured open-ended pursuit of positive alternatives and would have defended to the death opportunities for exploration, experimentation, and the pursuit of varied forms of life and living consistent with human beings becoming the most and best that they might become. Jack had strong personal commitments but was forever tolerant of alternative opinions that were not hostile to human wellbeing, whatever forms that wellbeing might take. In short, he was the kind of person the world most needs right now, although we need such people at all times and in all periods. His spirit was kind and generous to a fault and I loved and respected him dearly.

On my trip back to New Zealand last year to catch up with folk I wanted to be sure of seeing again I had the pleasure of a memorable afternoon with Jack and Barbara. We talked and talked and I left them with some of my hand made Mexican coffee. We had a wee 'photo session', which means that when I am at home I see Jack's image every day.

Even though I only met Jack near the end of his professional career he gave me a degree and quality of support in my academic and public life that would suffice for several lifetimes. He gave far more than could possibly be hoped – let alone, expected – of anyone. And I treasured that support all the more because I knew that Jack would not necessarily agree with all the details of some of my commitments at the time.

In some typical cases, Jack used his “School” column in the New Zealand Listener to support academic and public work I was involved in during the late 80s. When Literacy, Schooling and Revolution was published, in 1987, Jack flew up to Auckland to launch the book. He never missed a beat, getting right into the heart of the book and developing themes and lines of argument that made the book sound way better than it was. He picked up some of these themes in a “School” column and then went even further in another piece. The book contained a core chapter on the approach to literacy taken in Nicaragua during the Sandinista period. At that time, with many wonderful peers and colleagues, I was involved in raising money for health, literacy, community development, and women-oriented projects in Nicaragua. Helen Clark and Margaret Wilson, among others, had worked behind the scenes to ensure our Nicaragua Support Committee received a 3-to-1 subsidy for monies raised. When Jack learned of these efforts he devoted a “School” column to publicising the fact, supporting it with the claim that it was “a brave cause”. One of the first cheques to come in was for $1000 from an elderly woman in Wellington. The subsidy made that worth $4000, enough to build a health centre. The esteem in which Jack was held publicly made that kind of thing possible, and I know there will be many people who will be able to recount similar experiences.

The kind of cloth from which Jack was cut is, inevitably, in short supply; so short they only made one of him. He lived well, shone like a beacon, inspired many, and will be deeply missed. In the course of a privileged life I count among the highest privileges I have enjoyed the fact that I knew Jack and that we 'connected'.

Rest in peace, Jack, you fought the good fight and, in doing so, you did us all proud.

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