The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Amber Buck

Name: Amber Buck, English Department.

Presentation Title: "Tracing Literate Activity in Social Network Sites"

Date: April 29, 2010


In a description of the findings from the Stanford Study of Writing, Andrea Lunsford noted that students were, in fact, doing more writing than ever before, leading to a “literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek civilization.” The study found that 38% of the students’ writing happened outside of the classroom and that most of this writing happened online. Social network sites, such as MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, account for a large portion of the writing students engage in online. With its focus on literacy and situated composing practices, the field of writing studies is uniquely suited to study online contexts, and many within the field have argued that learning to compose, read, and analyze digital media (both in and out of the classroom) are essential student abilities and important emphases for English departments in the 21st century. This presentation reports on my early dissertation research following the literate activity of one undergraduate student across several different social network sites. I argue that in order to understand digital literacy in these online spaces writing researchers need to view these practices as situated within larger systems of online and offline activity.