Reconceptualising adolescent literacies as textual assemblages.
Watson, Adrienne Patricia.
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This investigation is a case-study of adolescent literacy practices and some of the texts arising from them. Forty-five texts were initially analysed for their generic structure and semiotic composition from within the traditions of the sociolinguistic paradigm. Findings from these two processes of analysis were then reinterpreted from a Deleuzean perspective with the aim of opening out otherwise imperceptible generative forces implicated in differences between the creation of online texts such as MXIT instant messages; Facebook texts and emails, and traditional print-and-paper school based writing. The context for the study was a Pietermaritzburg government girls’ only high school. A mixed-methods approach was used throughout the research process. The sample of twelve learners was purposefully selected from across two grade 9 classes to whom subject-English was taught. The core component of the data is a single writing exercise in which the pupils were asked to write a film appraisal as 1) a MXIT or SMS message; 2) an email; 3) a Facebook message and 4) a conventional film review. There are two major findings from this study. First, in some contexts, adolescents demonstrate a high degree of differentiated control over the structural, linguistic and semiotic composition of their writing in English; second, in online literacy, there is a complex configuration of motivating contextual variables that teenagers co-opt. These generate dynamic forces that serve adolescents’ own social and affective purposes and which can supersede, subvert or cooperate with the stated purpose of a genre. A Deleuzean framework helps reveal the complex processes underlying adolescent literacies and enables the beginning of an interrogation of the pedagogic implications of recent innovations in communication technology and practices.