Theses Doctoral

Real-and-Imagined Spaces: Productive Play in a Multimodal Youth Writing Program

Song, Ah-Young

This ethnographic study is driven by the aim of understanding how an out-of-school learning program supports the development of youth artists and writers, particularly when it operates outside of institutional strictures such as mandatory grading, curricular guidelines, and tracking based on age and perceived abilities. The research is guided by the following overarching questions: 1) In what ways do Black, Latinx, and queer students demonstrate investment in critical multimodal literacies? 2) How do world-building projects reveal the possibilities and limits of the imagination? 3) What conditions can inspire youth to articulate their identities as evolving writers and leaders?

This work argues that playing with multimodal projects and imaginative world-building opportunities provided generative conditions for young adults’ development as writers, creators, and mentors. By engaging in transdisciplinary projects that invited crafting, coding, urban planning, architectural modeling, and creative writing, youth participants contributed to a participatory learning environment that celebrated their inherent capacities as critical thinkers and actors. My research ultimately highlights the ways that critical multimodal literacies can promote powerful self-expressions, complex articulations of the future, and projections of self confidence through productive play and public engagement with wider audiences.


  • thumnail for Song_columbia_0054D_15175.pdf Song_columbia_0054D_15175.pdf application/pdf 1.43 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Fecho, Bob
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 22, 2019