Theory

Traditional Academic Feuds in Literacy Studies Part 4: The Reading Wars Cont.

Note: This is the fourth part of a multi-part series which (eventually) will become a term paper for a class seminar on literacy.

In my last three posts, I discussed the classification of Literacy Studies as a horizontal knowledge structure (proposed by Bernstein) and provided evidence of the same with samples from the McKenna et al. and Edelsky discourse during the Reading Wars. I argue that the Reading Wars are a traditional academic feud in a horizontal knowledge structure, and an analysis of the Reading Wars from a Bernsteinian perspective can reveal how and why the feud occurred. In this post, I will analyze Features 2-3 that I outlined in my first post.

In the table in my second post, I provided representative examples from the M-E discourse that illustrate the features of a horizontal knowledge structure. I have numbered each feature for ease of explanation. For the sake of clarity, I refer to McKenna’s first article as “McKenna et al., 1990a” and their rejoinder “McKenna et al., 1990b.” Citations from quotes in the M-E discourse are not linked. They can be found at McKenna et al., 1990a; Edelsky, and McKenna et al, 1990b.

4. “‘Each language [has] its own criteria for legitimate texts, what counts as evidence and what counts as legitimate questions or a legitimate problematic'” (Bernstein 1999, p. 163) (more…)

Traditional Academic Feuds in Literacy Studies Part 3: The Reading Wars Cont.

Note: This is the third part of a multi-part series which (eventually) will become a term paper for a class seminar on literacy.

In my last two posts, I discussed the classification of Literacy Studies as a horizontal knowledge structure (proposed by Bernstein) and provided evidence of the same with samples from the McKenna et al. and Edelsky discourse during the Reading Wars. I argue that the Reading Wars are a traditional academic feud in a horizontal knowledge structure, and an analysis of the Reading Wars from a Bernsteinian perspective can reveal how and why the feud occurred. In this post, I will analyze Features 2-3 that I outlined in my first post.

In the table in my last post, I provided representative examples from the M-E discourse that illustrate the features of a horizontal knowledge structure. I have numbered each feature for ease of explanation. For the sake of clarity, I refer to McKenna’s first article as “McKenna et al., 1990a” and their rejoinder “McKenna et al., 1990b.” Citations from quotes in the M-E discourse are not linked. They can be found at McKenna et al., 1990a; Edelsky, and McKenna et al, 1990b.

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Traditional Academic Feuds in Literacy Studies Part I: Knowledge Structures

Note: This is the first part of a multi-part series which (eventually) will become a term paper for a class seminar on literacy.

The Reading Wars of the 1990s were documented by the exchanges between Edelsky and McKenna, Robinson, & Miller in Educational Researcher.  This theoretical conflict between Whole Language and Traditional Literacy represents what I call a “traditional academic feud.” A traditional academic feud is a social phenomenon in an academic field of study where two or more groups theorize about or describe a single phenomenon in categorically different ways. That a traditional academic feud eventually achieved “war” status is a curious phenomenon–but perhaps no more curious than the fact that academic feuds occur in the first place. In this series, I plan to explain 1) why the academic feud of the Reading Wars occurred, 2) why the feud escalated to a war, and 3) why a similar feud developed recently in the reading comprehension field, and  (if I am brave enough) 4) how we might avoid wars and have more productive feuds in Literacy Studies. (more…)