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Adolescents’ New Literacies with and through Mobile Phones


Julie Warner

This book provides a deeper understanding of the phone-based composing practices of youth and their implications for literacy learning. In the United States, smartphone use among teens is nearly universal, yet many youth who are avid digital composers still struggle with formal schooled literacy. The widespread and rapid embrace of smartphones by youth from all income levels has had a substantial impact on the way that young people approach the act of composing, yet to date, little to no work has explored digital photography and text curation through popular apps like Twitter and Instagram and their impact on literacy, including formal schooled literacy. As more schools are moving to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) models and lifting classroom bans on cellphones, classroom teachers need information about the affordances of phones for formal literacy learning, which this book provides.

This book will also be of interest to those in courses in the fields of education, new literacies, cultural studies/youth culture, literacy studies, communication arts, and anthropology of education/social sciences. This book could be used in a course on online/Internet ethnography. It could also be used in a more general research methods course to illustrate the combination of online and offline data collection. Outside of research methods courses, it could be used in courses on literacies, digital literacies, youth culture, popular culture and media, or mobile learning.

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Chapter 4. Composing Socially



Composing Socially


This chapter demonstrates how mobile phone-based composing practices are highly social practices where composers draw on the words, ideas, arrangement or structure, and even tone of other composers. Not only is mobile phone-based composing highly social in that composers mobilize existing content for achieving specific effects, but it is also social in that users learn what is appropriate and intelligible through interacting in digital spaces. Furthermore, mobile phone-based composing practice is often shaped by its reception; that is to say, composers are interested in the feedback a post might receive and in some sense, the audience becomes a sort of co-author as audience feedback is taken into consideration as composers construct their texts. These ideas are explored through Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism including heteroglossia, addressivity, and polyphony. Finally, this chapter shows how composing in digital environments necessitates consideration of audience attention or addressivity in a digital milieu where content is abundant and at times even overwhelming. This chapter also shows that in many ways, this kind of social composing is not all that different from school-sanctioned composing practices.

Keywords: Social composing, addressivity, audience, Bakhtin, schooled literacies, heteroglossia, Twitter, polyphony←71 | 72→

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