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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Colloquium Archive

Brian Street

Name: Brian Street, Kings College London

Presentation Title: "Academic Literacies 15 Years On: International Perspectives."

Date: April 10th, 2013


In this presentation I will outline the three models of support for student writing that Lea and Street (1998) outlined following research in UK universities: Study Skills, Academic Socialisation, and Academic Literacies. The growth of universities, including admission of ‘non traditional’ students and also of ‘foreign’ and overseas students, has led to the Academic Literacies approach being taken up in a number of countries, as the other approaches came to be seen as too narrowly focused and left many students inadequately prepared. I will attempt to address the question of what the Academic Literacies approach can contribute, such as: focus on practices as well as texts; theoretical and methodological approaches that take account of power, ideology, and epistemology drawing on an ethnographic perspective; and ways in which the Academic Literacies model can help avoid a ‘deficit’ view, provide support for teachers as well as students and bring out what I term ‘hidden’ features’ of writing in Higher Education. I will then indicate some of the approaches that have emerged since the original work in 1998, notably Lillis and Scott’s distinction between ‘normative and transformative’ approaches; Wingate on the ‘best of both worlds’; and Leung on the importance of taking account of language issues including EAL (English as an Additional Language). Finally I will briefly signal some of the international work in this field, opening discussion on how it relates to the longer traditions of Rhetoric and WID/WAC in the US; and I will report some current experience in Brazil, as a university there welcomes lecturers from Africa onto Postgraduate courses.