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Academic Literacy and the Languages of Change by Lucia Thesen

Academic Literacy and the Languages of Change


Academic Literacy and the Languages of Change by Lucia Thesen

This title offers an analysis of student literacy in an academic setting in South Africa, and how this has changed due to political, economic and social factors. This book is an analysis of student literacy in an academic setting, and how this has changed due to political, economic and social factors. The contributors, who are all engaged in academic literacy work at a South African university, use the theoretical tradition of New Literacy Studies as developed by theorists such as James Gee, Brian Street and Gunther Kress, and apply this to a case study of one university in the changing context of South Africa. The context demands an extension of this theory in new directions, as the theoretical assumptions governing Anglophone, 'mainstream' traditions may limit insights into academic literacy settings on the margins of these traditions. The book probes some of these limitations by looking at the complex interactions taking place between students' diverse language and educational histories, their literacy practices, institutional discourses, and the many modes involved in engaging with texts. Language is central to all these interactions, and the book considers how they reflect or potentially change the institution.


'This book is a stimulating collection of research-based papers... Together the papers form a carefully worked tapestry in which 'place'

'space', 'boundaries'

'boundary crossing'
are threads that signify both change and continuities in the history and politics shaping the evolving identities of students, teachers and the institution

...In the issues it raises and the questions it can provoke this is a book of potential value to every teacher and administrator in higher education...
Mary Scott, English Academy Review Chapters offer future directions for both research and pedagogy

...readers would be foolish to ignore the relevance of this book to fundamental questions about the function and goals of higher education globally Theresa Lillis, Journal of Sociolinguistics

About the Author

Lucia Thesen is Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Town. Ermien van Pletzen is Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Town, and a Mandela Fellow at the W. E. B. du Bois Institute, Harvard University.

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd November 2009


Lucia Thesen

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Continuum Publishing Corporation


226 pages


Language acquisition



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