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Literacy as Tardis: Stories in Time and Space


by Julia Davies — 2017

Background/Context: This article draws on previous work about narrative, which regards the practice of storying our lives as a basic human impulse and one that draws on cultural resources to do so. Neophyte digital resources have fascinated and enticed us as devices to immerse ourselves ever deeply and widely to create shinier, polished narratives. Our new modes and media have impacted on the nature of our narratives, and we reflect on our lives as we read them back to ourselves. Yet the affordances of the devices have allowed us to play also with the modes of time and space. This article draws on theories suggested by Burnett et al.; Leander and Sheehy; Massey; and Lemke to unpack the slippery nature of these notions of space and time.

Purpose/Objective/Research: The article provides a series of examples from a range of scenarios and research projects to consolidate the proposal that the contexts of literacy events are difficult to delineate, that contexts slip and slide across space and time in ways that seem to defy absolute specificity—that they are “in motion,” mercurial, and subject to change. Nevertheless, within these uncertain spaces, individuals use the cultural resources at their disposal to make sense of who they are and what the world is, through the creation of stories.

Research Design: This is an analytical essay, which draws on the research of others to create a series of examples of “digital encounters.”

Conclusions/Recommendations:The article argues that despite the many changes that digital tools have brought to our lives, the narrative impulse and the desire to represent ourselves through images and other media have remained constant. The new tools seem to allow us, however, to play more explicitly with time and space and to incorporate these aspects into our meaning-making practices. We can use tools to explore new types of space and arenas for communication—not just because of our capacity to keep in touch across time and space (which is not new), but because we can disrupt how we perceive these concepts.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 119 Number 11, 2017, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22068, Date Accessed: 10/21/2017 5:00:52 PM

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About the Author
  • Julia Davies
    University of Sheffield
    E-mail Author
    JULIA DAVIES, Ph.D., is senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield, where she codirects the Centre for the Study of Literacies and is a faculty director of Technology Enhanced Learning. Julia’s work explores digital text making practices and considers how these affect our sense of who we are and the world we live in. She is interested in the learning possibilities created by digital tools. Recent publications: coeditorship of New Literacies Around the Globe: Policy and Pedagogy (2014); and “Facebook Narratives” in J. Rowsell & K. Pahl (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of literacy studies (2015), London: Routledge.
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