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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Colloquium Archive

Patrick Berry

Name: Patrick Berry, English Department

Presentation Title: "Horton and Freire's Road: Theory on the Edge of the Literacy Narrative"

Date: December 4, 2008

Abstract

In 1990, Paulo Freire and Myles Horton published We Make the Road by Walking, a performative text that captures the two men in dialogic exchange on issues related to literacy and social justice. This "spoken book" offers narrative details of the educators' experiences with literacy and links these details with their development as philosophers and theorists of education. But what happens when theorists' personal lives fail to neatly align with their literacy theories? In this text, Horton and Freire make visible the complex ways in which literacy theories and lives reverberate. Drawing on archival video, audio, and textual data, I present how reviewers, editors, and other adult educators responded to the authors' efforts to dramatize and recreate their literacy theories in the context of their lives. Ultimately, I argue that in resisting compartmentalization, Horton and Freire offer a productive approach for educators to understand representations of literacy across theoretical and personal spaces.