Theses Doctoral

Literacies of Power: Exploring Multilingual and Multiliterate Practices in a Secondary Chicanx/Latinx Studies Course

de los Rios, Cati Virginia

K–12 schools’ rapidly changing demographic compositions urge us to envisage the ways in which school curricula can support epistemological diversity for an increasingly bi- /multilingual and racially diversifying world. Using ethnographic methodologies, my dissertation explores the experiences of Chicanx and Latinx emergent bilingual learners (EBLs) enrolled in a high school Chicanx/Latinx Studies class. In this course, the teacher employed translanguaging pedagogies where languages are not seen as separable phenomena but as cooperating in fluid and sophisticated ways in the practices of bilingual people (García, 2009). I examine how and in what circumstances Chicanx and Latinx youth draw on and develop multilingual and multiliterate practices including oral, visual, and print channels to cultivate academic, counterhegemonic, and civic literacies. Of significance, this study documents the ways in which school curricula can support epistemological diversity and foster bi-/multilingual literacies of agency, civic engagement, and academic achievement. Toward this end, this study asks: How does student participation in the Chicanx/Latinx Studies course influence the language and literacy practices of emergent bilingual learners (EBLs)? While the institutionalization of secondary Ethnic Studies courses swiftly expands across California school districts, more research is necessary to understand the pedagogical and curricular nature of these courses, especially when enacted with bi-/multilingual youth. This study adds to the nascent empirical scholarship on secondary Ethnic Studies teaching and translanguaging practices in secondary “English-medium” courses, underscoring pedagogical processes of nourishing Chicanx and Latinx students’ fluid language and literacy practices. Since Latinxs remain one of the fastest growing school-aged populations in the United States, the future of this nation depends, in part, on how successfully this vital community is educated. This study’s findings feature what I call “literacies of power,” meaning the various forms of reading and writing that lead to the self-actualization of young people. These literacies of power contribute to four sets of important conversations: (a) the development of enriched literacy learning for Latinx students in the digital and media age; (b) pedagogical innovations, including translanguaging pedagogical practices, for EBLs in Ethnic Studies classrooms and other nonremedial, college-preparatory “English-medium” classrooms; (c) the identity development of Latinx youth that spans social worlds; and (d) the growing research on Ethnic Studies curricula and pedagogies in high school classrooms, especially as these courses increasingly become a high school graduation requirement throughout California and have been recently sanctioned by California Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of landmark Assembly Bill 2016.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Morrell, Ernest
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 22, 2017