Monday, December 16, 2013

Reading Writers Reading

One of the reasons why I got interested in documenting and describing my literacy practices was my realization that literacy experiences similar to mine were not represented in the academic literature. The way multilingual writers interacted with texts (both as a writer and a reader) and their subjective interactions with fictional characters and real writers were completely nonexistent in academic literature on multilingual writers. Yet, in my opinion my identities, academic and other identities, first and second language identities, have developed as a result of my interactions, both real and imaginary ones.  For example, as a multilingual writer I think of all the dead philosophers and authors whom I consider my kin, I think of scholars in my field whom I have never met before yet I have had the most intense most influential imaginary conversations I have never had with my colleagues that are physically close to me.

“Full ownership of a book only comes when you have made it a part of yourself” Mortimer Adler

Why, I ask sometimes, realities like mine are not represented in the literature. I think there is something quite violent and silencing about this absence of representation. This is a fearsome vacuum only people whose stories have been denied audience can understand. And eventually making a sound in this stuffy silence becomes inevitable because the silence becomes unbearable. Contrary to popular belief, breaking the silence is more challenging than trying to be heard in a crowd. 
I find this lack of representation of subjective experiences in the academic literature on second language writers and literacy development perplexing. I can think of two possible explanations for this absence. 1) It is possible that I am a rare/unique species of second language writers and thus researchers are more interested in investigating populations with more generalizable traits or 2) that I am not alone in my interactions and connections with texts, characters, and authors but those subjective experiences have been considered to lie outside the purview of present academic studies. Articles like the one below remind me that I am not alone in the ways I interact with texts and authors. Even if I belong to a rare species, I think outliers are still worth investigating. So, I think the first option is not a legitimate excuse for not studying certain types of literacy practices or second language writers. If I am not alone then it's all the more reason to study what is really going on as second language writers make the texts and authors their own.
I say let's study multilingual writers and the texts, characters, and authors that influence them.Check this out!

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