Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Written on the Screen: Representations of Literacy in Popular Culture

Bronwyn T. Williams, Amy A. Zenger.

Representations of literacy also abound in popular culture, in images that recreate and reinforce popular perceptions of how reading and writing work and inevitably influence how students respond to print literacy and to literacy education. While a few films make literacy an explicit subject (Educating Rita, Il Postino, or Dead Poets’ Society, for
example), the vast majority of movies include everyday scenes of reading and writing that pass unnoticed even by literacy scholars. In this workshop we will draw on research for a book-length project to discuss how everyday literacy practices are depicted in mainstream contemporary movies, and to think about how they are influenced by assumptions about gender and social class, and about capitalism, romanticism or individualism. We will consider what happens when the “movie models” of literacy encounter the academic models of literacy operative in many classrooms. This will be an interactive workshop that will invite the audience to participate in focused discussions of different themes emerging in movie clips that we will be showing. Such discussions will both explore the representations of literacy but also how these images reflect on literacy practices inside of the classroom. The workshop will end with a discussion of how such film representations can be used in classroom pedagogy.


Bronwyn T. Williams  (United States)
Assistant Professor of English
Department of English
University of Louisville

Bronwyn T. Williams is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Louisville. He writes and teaches about issues of literacy, popular culture, identity, and cross-cultural communication. He recently published the book Tuned In: Television and the Teaching of Writing and is currently editing an anthology titled Composing Identities: Our Selves, Our Work, and Our Students.

Amy A. Zenger  (United States)

  • Literacy
  • Popular Culture
  • Film
  • Pedagogy

(60 min. Workshop, English)