Deep Reading, Deep Learning

Deep Reading Volume 2

by Patrick Sullivan (Volume editor) Howard Tinberg (Volume editor) Sheridan Blau (Volume editor)
©2023 Edited Collection XXIV, 434 Pages


We have developed this volume, Deep Reading, Deep Learning, as a companion to our 2017 NCTE book, Deep Reading: Teaching Reading in the Writing Classroom, which received the CCCC Outstanding Book Award in 2019 for Best Edited Collection. In this volume we address a range of social, ethical, and pedagogical issues that have emerged as essential concerns for teachers of reading and writing, especially those related to identity, culture, and positionality. This new volume emphasizes the broad question of equity and social justice in the acquisition and practice of literacy, and the multifaceted lived reality of positionality related to race, class, gender, disability, and language as experienced by students in the classroom.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword by Maryanne Wolf
  • Introduction
  • Part 1 Student Perspectives on Reading
  • 1. Being and Nothingness (–Jamil Shakoor)
  • 2. Reconciling with the Lack of Diverse Literature as an Afro-Caribbean American (–Yana Rankine)
  • 3. Beyond the Token Author: Where Is Her Voice in Her Field? (–Mariah Salazar-Solórzano)
  • 4. A Response to Mariah Salazar-Solórzano’s “Beyond the Token Author: Where Is Her Voice in Her Field?” (–Cheri Lemieux Spiegel)
  • 5. Triunfando en Inglés (–Giovanna Rodriguez)
  • 6. A Response to Giovanna Rodriguez’s “Triunfando en Inglés” (–Vanessa Kraemer Sohan with Giovanna Rodriguez)
  • 7. Performative Literacy (–Justin Hollis)
  • 8. Two Worlds and the Bridge Between (–Nefi Ismael Guevara Perez)
  • Part 2 Some Versions, Dimensions, and Affordances of Deep Reading
  • 9. El Hoyo (–Alfredo Celedón Luján)
  • 10. Expanding Our Understanding of Deep Reading through Threshold Concepts (–Ellen C. Carillo)
  • 11. Freedom and Unfreedom: Deep Reading and Hegemonic Ideological Systems (–Patrick Sullivan)
  • 12. Reading in Slow Motion (–Richard E. Miller)
  • 13. Learning to Read in Graduate School (–Paula M. Krebs)
  • Part 3 Antiracist Reading
  • 14. Assessment as an Act Is at Its Core an Act of Reading (–Asao B. Inoue)
  • 15. Reading toward Racial Literacy in the College Composition Classroom (–Mara Lee Grayson)
  • 16. Culturally White and Culturally Sustaining Ideals of Secondary-to-Postsecondary Reading Curriculum (–Jamila M. Kareem)
  • Part 4 Translingual and Raciolinguistic Approaches to Teaching Reading
  • 17. “Can, Do, and Must”: Teaching Reading in the Translingual Writing Classroom (–Vanessa Kraemer Sohan)
  • 18. Reading Bilingual Community with Care: Emergent Bilingual Care for Teacher Education (–Steven Alvarez)
  • 19. Creating Your Classroom from the Students Up: Tapping into Students’ Translanguaging and Raciolinguistic Literacies for Deep Reading (–Kate Seltzer and Cati V. de los Ríos)
  • Part 5 Further Discussion of Reading in the Classroom
  • 20. Magic Is Just Science We Don’t Understand Yet: Concrete Strategies for Engaging Students in Reflective Reading (–Kelly Cecchini and Amanda Navarra)
  • 21. “I Bought the Book and I Didn’t Need It”: What Reading Looks Like at an Urban Community College (–Annie Del Principe and Rachel Ihara)
  • 22. Reading and the Teaching for Transfer (TFT) Curriculum (–Howard Tinberg and Matthew Davis)
  • 23. Meaningful Reading in the Writing Classroom (–Kelly Blewett)
  • 24. Critical (Digital) Reading in the Age of Fake News (–Janine Morris, Giselle E. Kleiban, and Jaymin Vakharia)
  • 25. Reading Queer (–Stacey Waite)
  • 26. Reading Magic: Deep Reading in the Creative Writing Classroom (–Kate Cantrell and Nike Sulway)
  • 27. Replanting the Seeds of American Literature: Indigenous Texts as a Necessary Component of American Literature Courses—And Many Other Courses as Well (–Meagan C. Frazier)
  • Part 6 Apprenticeships in Reading
  • 28. On Not Teaching College-Level Reading in Order That Students Might Learn It: Honoring Our Pedagogical Legacy in the Composition Classroom (–Sheridan Blau)
  • 29. “We Know What We Are, but Not What We May Be”: Transforming Students as Readers of Shakespeare through Commentary Blogs (–Cheryl Hogue Smith)
  • 30. Reading Like a Writer: Deep Reading and Mentor Texts (–Jason Courtmanche)
  • 31. Learning Fiction’s Importance from Students in an English Classroom (–Cristina Vischer Bruns)
  • 32. More Than Just Talk: Socratic Seminar in the Community College Classroom (–Ruth Aman)
  • 33. An Open Letter to Students: How to Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable (–Kate Cantrell and Jessica Gildersleeve)
  • Part 7 Reading Resources and Obstructions
  • 34. Reading across the Lifespan: A Deep Reading Advantage Hypothesis (–Alice S. Horning)
  • 35. Return of the Test Subject: Reading Disability, Fostering Disability Literacies (–Ada Hubrig)
  • 36. Seeing the Unseen: Reading and Writing in the Anthropocene (–Rich Novack)
  • 37. Depth Prevention: When Trauma Interferes with Literary Engagement (–Adam Wolfsdorf)
  • Editors
  • Contributors
  • Index
  • Series Index

←x | xi→


Rachel Ihara and Annie Del Principe’s chapter, “‘I Bought the Book and I Didn’t Need It’: What Reading Looks Like at an Urban Community College” is reprinted from Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 43, no.3, 2016, pp. 229–44. Copyright 2016 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Reprinted with permission.

Asao Inoue’s chapter is excerpted from the Introduction to Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies (pp. 6–9 and 14–24), published by WAC Clearinghouse. Copyright 2015 by Asao B. Inoue. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International. Republished by permission from Asao B. Inoue and WAC Clearninghouse.

Richard E. Miller’s chapter originally appeared as “On Digital Reading” in Pedagogy, Volume 16, no. 1, pp. 153–164. Copyright 2016, Duke University Press. All rights reserved. Republished by permission of the copyright holder, and the Publisher. www.dukeupress.edu.

Stacey Waite’s chapter is excerpted from the Introduction to Teaching Queer: Radical Possibilities for Writing and Knowing (pp. 3–23). Copyright 2017. Reprinted by permission of the author and the University of Pittsburgh Press.

←xii | xiii→


–Maryanne Wolf

My favorite description of oral language is found in Madame Bovary, where Gustave Flaubert (1856) wrote: “Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we beat crude rhythms for bears to dance to, all the while we long to make music that will melt the stars.” Deep reading is that dimension within written language that moves us, just as Flaubert described, to go beyond the limits set by speech, and to generate thoughts of our own. The authors of this book and the previous book, Deep Reading, seek to extend our understanding of this protean aspect of all language into the study of writing and indeed into multiple areas of disciplines. I could not be more supportive. Just as Vygotsky (1964) understood years before in his work on Thought and Language, the very act of writing pushes us to express thoughts which were previously nascent and inarticulable.

My own work on what I have referred to as deep reading explores the full panoply of perceptual, linguistic, cognitive, motoric and affective processes that we gradually learn to deploy after we learn to decode (Wolf, 2007, 2016, 2018). I am interested in how processes that link our background knowledge to new information in the text then proceed to activate analogical and inferential processes, which, in their turn, help to evaluate this combined information. Perhaps never more important than this moment in our collective history, I am interested in how this information is integrated with two of the most essential contributions to a democratic society: the affective processes like perspective-taking and empathy that provide an extra dimension to our understanding of the text; and the critical analytical processes that help us discern the truth and value of the content. In a society both besieged by doubt and equally vulnerable to false information and fake news, empathy and critical analysis may be our best antidotes to falling victim to demagoguery and indifference. All of these deep reading processes have their acme, however, in the least understood, least realized, and potentially most important goal of deep reading, the generative processes leading to insight and novel thought.

The philosopher Charles Taylor writes that “possessing a language is to be continuously involved in trying to extend its powers of articulation,” with “articulation” for Taylor connoting a living, aspiring ←xiii | xiv→“crucial facet of our language capability” (Taylor, p. 177–178). Taylor’s life-long efforts to articulate this ineffable, driving force at the heart of language have changed my own view of written language, particularly of the generative capacities that are the acme of both the reading act and the writing process. Where formerly I struggled unsuccessfully to describe how our inferential and analytical processes prepared the reader for insight, I now interpret the entirety of the deep reading and its filial counterpart, the writing process, as part of the intrinsically human drive towards meaning: its discovery and its never finished articulation by us.

With Proust looking over my shoulder as I write this, deep reading in this perspective represents the ever evolving sum of all of these processes—from background knowledge to the contemplative function—that underlies that “fertile miracle of communication” which happens when readers “go beyond the wisdom of the author” to discover their own. Within this context, books that prompt our next generation of teachers, readers, and writers to generate their own best thoughts across multiple disciplinary boundaries, sometimes new to them, sometimes new to the whole of humankind, could not be more important. The development of deep reading, writing, and thinking may be our best hope to propel the intellectual, social, and ethical development of the species.

Works Cited

←xiv | xv→


–Patrick Sullivan, Howard Tinberg, and Sheridan Blau

Deep Reading as a Liberatory Practice

We offer our warmest greetings to readers of this book.

We have developed this volume, Deep Reading, Deep Learning, as a companion to our 2017 NCTE book, Deep Reading: Teaching Reading in the Writing Classroom, which received the CCCC Outstanding Book Award in 2019 for Best Edited Collection. In this new volume we address a range of social, ethical, and pedagogical issues that have emerged as essential concerns for teachers of reading and writing, especially those related to identity, culture, and positionality. This new volume emphasizes the broad question of equity and social justice in the acquisition and practice of literacy, and the multifaceted lived reality of positionality related to race, class, gender, disability, and language as experienced by students in the classroom.

We are deeply appreciative of the CCCC Outstanding Book Award for our first volume and of the many published reviews that called attention to what that book contributed to the field of composition and the teaching of reading. We are equally appreciative of the thoughtful, generous, and welcome constructive feedback we received from reviewers, friends, and colleagues about that book.

One of the reasons for producing this follow-up volume is the need to address a variety of issues related to reading and writing that we did not attend to in our previous volume—especially those related to identity, culture, and positionality (Blewett; Kareem “Critical”; Gildersleeve; Sohan; see also Baker-Bell; Canagarajah; Dolmage; hooks Teaching Community; Horner and Lu; Horner et al.; McNair et al. Becoming; McNair et al. From; Paris and Alim; Ruecker; Smitherman; Williams). Inspired by this constructive feedback, we engaged in a process of deep reading and deep learning ourselves. As it turns out, we had much to learn. This book is the result of that powerfully generative process.

Our first volume focused a great deal of attention on teaching. This new volume, as our title suggests, focuses on learning. We’ve asked each of our contributors to discuss ways that deep reading pedagogies can promote deep learning. We have also focused considerable attention in this volume on equity and social justice, and all of our contributors discuss—each in their own way—the responsibility of ←xv | xvi→schools to prepare students, following Dewey, Freire, Rosenblatt, hooks, Ladson-Billings, and others not only to read the word but also to read the world.

This new volume and our own professional development as teachers and scholars owe a great deal to the individuals whose work is featured in this new volume. This work addresses the urgent needs of an increasingly diverse population of students and the related pedagogical and cultural crises of this moment. Most crucially, this work addresses the broad question of equity and social justice in the acquisition and practice of literacy. This work also addresses the global problems of sustainability, violence, and trauma that contemporary composition scholars have begun to examine. One of our goals in this volume is to map the multifaceted lived reality of identity, culture, and positionality as experienced in the classroom and in daily life.

Although this new volume reflects a subtle shift in our attention toward the experience of learners in the classroom, we do retain an emphasis on the interanimation of reading and writing as foundational tools for meaning-making and knowledge building. We believe that deep reading and what Maryanne Wolf, in her Foreword to this volume, calls its “filial counterpart, the writing process,” are crucial to the intellectual, civic, and ethical life for us all. The work featured in this volume helps us examine these luminous human capacities in important new ways.

Theoretical Considerations

While our first volume was informed by a conception of reading as transactional and constructive, and highly dependent on the reader’s active process of meaning-making, this volume (taking the transactional and constructivist model of reading as a given) reflects a growing body of research that has sought to map the complex nature of the reading process itself. This process is informed by a great variety of often intersecting and overlapping variables, including memories, personal history, prior knowledge, past experiences, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, historical contexts, situational conditions, cultural knowledge, communities of practice, sponsoring agents, culturally-inscribed and culturally-sponsored reading practices, socially sanctioned interpretive conventions, ideologies, politics, power relationships, material conditions, social customs, other texts, genre, agency, rhetorical situations, race, class, gender, ability and disability, identity, positionality, intersectionality, exposure to trauma, language(s) spoken or not spoken, physical spaces, religion, geography, and other factors as well (Sullivan “World,” 115; see also Horning et al.; Tayles; Wolf Proust; Wolf Reader; Wolf Tales). We are only beginning to understand how extraordinarily complex the act of meaning-making with texts is.

We acknowledge that reading, language, and writing shape identity transnationally (Pandey; You), and that reading and writing are not—and never have been—politically or ideologically neutral activities. Furthermore, we acknowledge that teaching reading and writing is not—and never has been—a politically or ideologically neutral or unracialized activity (Baker-Bell; Blau “Politics”; Canagarajah; Feldman; Hardy and Bobes; hooks Teaching to Transgress; Kareem “Critical”; Kendi How; Kynard; Inoue Antiracist; Inoue “Teaching”; Kirkland Search; Ladson-Billings Critical; Ladson-Billings “From”; McNair, et al. Becoming; Minor; Paris and Alim; Perryman-Clark et al.; Piepzna-Samarasinha; Seltzer and de los Ríos “Understanding”; Waite; Young et al.). Intellectual and pedagogical work, including literacy instruction, is always situated within historical, cultural, national, local, ideological, and institutional conditions, traditions, and values. Thus, race, class, gender, neurodiversity, ability and disability, and positionality are always present in the writing classroom when students read.

As we know, literacy acquisition continues to remain stubbornly stratified by race and class in the U.S. (Cahalan et al.; Hung et al.). As Deborah Brandt notes in Literacy in American Lives,

Despite expanding democracy in educational chances, access and reward for literacy still travel along dividing lines by region, wealth, and prerogative. National tests of reading and writing performance ←xvi | xvii→routinely turn up correlations between higher literacy achievement and higher socioeconomic status. And although literacy among America’s racial minorities rose steadily across the twentieth century, gaps by race endure. At least in the aggregate, literacy clusters with material and political privilege. It favors the rich over the poorer, the freer over the jailed, the well connected over the newly arrived or left out. (169; see also Crenshaw et al.; Ladson-Billings Critical)

Brandt’s book is now twenty years old, but current data confirm her core claim: that literacy acquisition—and the opportunities, privilege, and upward mobility that result from such acquisition—continue to remain highly stratified (Cahalan et al.; Hung et al.). We regard our discipline’s discussion of deep reading and deep learning, therefore, as a high stakes enterprise. We believe deep reading pedagogy has the potential to be a powerful liberatory classroom practice that promotes social justice (hooks Teaching to Transgress; Ladson-Billings “From”), equity (hooks Teaching Community; hooks Teaching to Transgress), empathy (Mirra), intellectual generosity (Blau “Performative”), and civic mindedness (Dewey Experience; Dewey “Need”; Freire). We also believe that the deep reading pedagogy we are theorizing in these volumes promotes a conception of students and teachers that is itself humane, resilient, liberatory, ennobling, and intellectually and politically responsible.

We are also teaching, learning, and reading in a post-truth world, a political environment where asymmetrical relationships to power and wealth continue to be more extreme and more consequential for the nation and the world than perhaps ever before (Carillo Teaching; Carillo and Horning; Sullivan Economic). Reading is a key variable in this regard as well. We take very seriously the conclusions drawn by the Stanford History Education Group in their recent report, Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning (2016), which evaluates students’ ability as readers “to judge the credibility of information that floods young people’s smartphones, tablets, and computers” (Wineburg et al. 3). In terms of these high stakes reading skills that are essential for a healthy democracy, the news from this report is not comforting:

When thousands of students respond to dozens of tasks there are endless variations. That was certainly the case in our experience. However, at each level—middle school, high school, and college—these variations paled in comparison to a stunning and dismaying consistency. Overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak. (4; emphasis in the original)

This Stanford study and others like it highlight the need for teachers across disciplines and at all levels of instruction to understand the complex nature of reading more clearly—and to develop strategies for teaching deep reading and deep learning practices across the curriculum and across institutional boundaries (see Mehta and Fine; Wineburg and McGrew). Ellen Carillo’s recent book on teaching reading in “post-truth America” suggests that deep reading pedagogies can help prepare students to thrive in this fraught, highly-politicized, and high stakes public space. Carillo and Alice Horning’s recent special issue of Pedagogy (21.2, 2021), Reading and Writing in the Era of Fake News, and Andersen et al.’s special issue of poetics today, Modes of Reading (42.2, 2021) suggest that the need for this work continues to be urgent. Our volume seeks to contribute to this conversation and to address these challenges directly.


Overall, we are pursuing four primary goals in this volume: (1) to acknowledge, explicate, and begin to map the incredibly complex nature of meaning-making with texts; (2) to document and disseminate innovative classroom practices that nurture deep reading practices and promote deep learning; (3) to examine how subject positionality affects meaning-making and knowledge building in the classroom; (4) to explore how reading assignments in a composition classroom may advance humane, democratic, ←xvii | xviii→intellectually honest, and ecologically responsible values, while interrogating and critiquing cultural and pedagogical practices that foster racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and other forms of social, cultural, ideological, and environmental violence and malignancy.

As we have noted, one of our primary goals is to explore in this volume how cultural identity positions shape reading experiences for students. Our student contributors offer literacy professionals at all levels of instruction a unique opportunity to hear directly from students themselves about this important subject. For example, Yana Rankine’s essay in this volume, “Reconciling with the Lack of Diverse Literature as an Afro-Caribbean American,” reveals what often remains invisible in the classroom—the damage done to students in school settings who do not see themselves reflected in reading assignments or course content:

Since I was a child, I was encouraged to read every day even if four-year-old me didn’t notice it. My bedroom was stocked full of books, and if that wasn’t enough, my bulky desktop computer was just one-click away from online reading games. I read every day as I anxiously anticipated visiting the public library with my mother and siblings at the end of the week. Soon, what was once a leisure activity after visits to the library would turn into goal-oriented reading selections once I started elementary school. Anticipating passing the Florida Comprehension Assessment Test—the Florida standardized test at the time—my classmates and I were repeatedly assigned various class reading selections with corresponding short responses and quizzes. Assuredly, I didn’t have the capacity to criticize how the repetitive assignments and lack of diverse literature contributed to the suppression of my identity beginning when I was 7 years-old. Instead, I just simply hated reading.


XXIV, 434
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2023 (February)
Reading deep reading positionality teaching and learning teaching reading identity culture diversity equity Deep Reading, Deep Learning Deep Reading Volume 2 Patrick Sullivan Howard Tinberg Sheridan Blau Alice Horning
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2023. XXIV, 434 pp., 12 b/w ill., 4 color ill., 6 tables.

Biographical notes

Patrick Sullivan (Volume editor) Howard Tinberg (Volume editor) Sheridan Blau (Volume editor)

Patrick Sullivan teaches English at Manchester Community College in Manchester, Connecticut. Howard Tinberg is Professor of English (Emeritus) at Bristol Community College, Massachusetts, and former editor of Teaching English in the Two-Year College. Sheridan Blau is Professor of Practice in the Teaching of English at Teachers College, Columbia University and Professor Emeritus in Education and English at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Title: Deep Reading, Deep Learning