Critical Literacy

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSES3012072


Semester and Year Offered: Semester 1/2

Course Coordinator and Team: Sunita Singh (C)

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: Pre-Doctoral


  • Examine cultural ways of thinking and learning.
  • Situate critical literacy within sociocultural frameworks.
  • Re-examine language and literacy use in the instructional practices and institutional structures.
  • Identify ways in which language and literacy practices can challenge standard school literacy practices.

Course Outcomes:

By the end of the course the participants will be able to:

  • Describe the landscape of sociocultural perspectives on language and literacy.
  • Situate literacy as a social practice, multiliteracies and critical literacies within the sociocultural frameworks.
  • Analyse messages through a textual and contextual analysis.
  • Identify discrimination within institutions of power and question the power dynamics when they appear in written and oral texts.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1: Situating Critical Literacy

Language both reflects and shapes thought and culture. There are the multiple pathways of language and literacy learning and use in the society. Across cultures, there are different mediators of language and literacy by the use of diverse range of materials, methods and practices that may or may not be recognized in the classrooms. The implications of several researchers have been to explore how the syncretisms of these practices take place and the advantages they could have. However, simply extoling the diversity of practices is not adequate—it is imperative to also conceptualize a theoretical model of literacy that recognizes the power relations within such language and literacy practices. The first unit will introduce students to the sociocultural perspectives that identify literacy as a social practice, multiliteracies and critical literacy. Sociocultural perspectives on literacies are myriad and often include an emphasis on power relations—thus, critical theories play a role in this perspective. This unit will situate critical literacy within the sociocultural paradigms. Critical sociocultural perspectives are also used as a term to identify the relationship between literacies and power.

Module 2: Critical literacy and agency

This unit will focus on examining literacy as it addresses issues of identity, power and agency. It will focus on how realizations of critical literacy mediate language and power in diverse ways. In recognizing the multiple ways in which issues of power relate to language and literacy practice the field of literacy addresses post-structuralist thinking. Increasingly, there is a rejection of universal forms of knowledge and narratives surrounding it and in the process a challenge to the frameworks that situate language and literacy only within a cultural social framework, without conceptualizing issues of power and hegemony.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Reading summary and reflections  40 %
  • Class participation  10%
  • Term paper  50%

Reading List:

  • Behrman, E. H. (2006). Teaching about language, power, and text: A review of classroom
  • practices that support critical literacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 49(6), 490-498.
  • Gregory, E. (Ed.) (1997). One child, many worlds: Early learning in multicultural communities.
  • Language and Literacy Series. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Kenner, C. Chapter 6: A child writes from her everyday world: Using home texts to develop biliteracy at school, pp. 75-86.
  • Rashid, N. & Gregory, E. Chapter 8: Learning to read, reading to learn: The importance of siblings in the language development of young bilingual children, pp. 107-121.
  • Lewison, M., Flint, A. S., & Van Sluys, K. (2002). Taking on critical literacy: The journey of newcomers and novices. Language arts, 79(5), 382-392.
  • Luke, A. (2012). Critical literacy: Foundational notes.Theory into practice, 51(1), 4-11.
  • Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms.Theory into practice, 31(2), 132-141.
  • Esteban-Guitart, M., & Moll, L. C. (2014). Funds of identity: A new concept based on the funds of knowledge approach. Culture & Psychology, 20(1), 31-48.
  • Perry, K. H. (2012). What Is Literacy?--A Critical Overview of Sociocultural Perspectives. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1), 50-71.
  • The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60-93.
  • Bean, T. W., &Moni, K. (2003). Developing students' critical literacy: Exploring identify construction in young adult fiction. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 46(8), 638-648.
  • Comber, B. (2001).Classroom explorations in critical literacy.Australian Literacy Educators’ Association, 16(1), 90-102.
  • Janks, H. (2000). Domination, access, diversity and design: A synthesis for critical literacy education. Educational review, 52(2), 175-186.
  • Kalantzis, M. & Cope, B. (Eds.) (1996).The powers of literacy.London: Taylor & Francis.
  • Kellner, D. & Share, J. (2005). Toward critical media literacy: Core concepts, debates, organisation and policy. Discourse, 3, 369-386
  • Lankshear, C. & McLaren, P. (Eds.) (1993).Critical literacy. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Luke, A. (2018). Critical literacy in Australia: A matter of context and standpoint. In Critical
  • Literacy, Schooling, and Social Justice (pp. 168-188). Routledge.
  • Vasquez, V. (2003).Getting Beyond" I Like the Book": Creating Space for Critical Literacy in K-6 Classrooms. Kids In Sight, K-12. International Reading Association: Newark, DE.
  • Vasquez, V. (2014).Using the everyday to engage in critical literacy with young children. Critical Literacies and Young Learners: Connecting Classroom Practice to the Common Core, pp. 128-144.Routledge.