How Literacy Flows and Comes to Matter: A Participatory Video Study

Cardinal, Alison. How Literacy Flows and Comes to Matter: A Participatory Video Study. 2019. University of Washington, PhD dissertation.

Using participatory video methods, an intersectional feminist methodology, this dissertation offers a visual portrait of how university students’ literate activity matters and moves. Drawing on the video and audio data 18 university students created over the course of four years, this study investigates how students’ literacies flow as they physically move across the shifting contexts of school, home, community, and work. Through video production, student collaborators showed how they create meaning and connection between and within unstable literate landscapes through their emergent material/discursive practices of writing, reading, communicating, and translating. This study also explores how these literacy flows are regulated and valued as they move and how the persons who use them come to matter. In this study, three key findings emerge: 1) Feminist and anti-oppressive research methods, such as participatory video, open up space for participants to negotiate their racial and gendered representations, giving them control over how they matter and what they create matters to the discipline 2) Through the process of filming, literacies emerge as mattering, both in how they materialize and hold personal significance. Filming choices create conditions for mattering. 3) Taken together, videos show how students navigate and create literascapes, empowering them to create new directions of their literacy flows across spaces and modalities. I also offer implications for teaching writing, specifically how to help students recognize, navigate, and redirect the flows of literacy in their lives. This dissertation contributes to current conversations in writing and literacy studies that seek to understand literacies across spatialtemporal landscapes that account for entanglements of technology, language, gender, race, mobility, affect, materiality, and power.

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