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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 9. Chronotopic Explorations of Mobile Phone Composing



Chronotopic Explorations of Mobile Phone Composing


This chapter explores mobile phone-based composing through the lens of Bakhtin’s chronotope. Bakhtin (1981) borrowed from the theory of relativity the term chronotope (literally “time-space”) to emphasize the inextricable nature of these two concepts. Rather than viewing time and place as the backdrop for interaction and communication among characters, he saw them as central and as indicative of an author’s worldview. This perspective is useful in that it can help to challenge the apparent “naturalness” of literacy education as it currently exists in regard to time, space, and opportunity for learning in order to address associated pedagogical challenges. For Bakhtin, the novel (and other representations of events and lifeworlds) invokes time and space and particularly how people live in time and space and leave markers of their own ideological possibilities for their lives. This chapter takes up Bakhtin’s iteration of the chronotope as a heuristic for considering how data from this connective ethnographic study of three teenagers’ mobile phone-based composing practices demonstrate ideological possibilities. Specifically, in this chapter I examine how the participants actively produced time-space in their composing practices as evidenced by the nature of the practices and the spatiotemporal markers (both visual and discursive) in the resulting texts.

Keywords: Bakhtin, time-space, chronotope, selfie, mobile phone-based literacy practice, mobile phones, ideological becoming←161 | 162→

This chapter explores mobile phone-based composing through the lens of Bakhtin’s chronotope. Bakhtin (1981) borrowed from the...

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