Presentation Details

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

Literacy: Beyond the Commonplaces

Prof. Nancy Nelson.

Place has had a major role in conceptions of literacy since antiquity, when classical rhetoric presented topoi, or loci, as the dwelling places of arguments. Over time the term "commonplace," once used for certain types of topoi, came to refer to commonplace books, which were a major means for systematically recording other writers' thoughts for later use in one's own writing. No longer are the use of topoi and the creation of commonplace books key elements in educational practice, and through the years "commonplace" has acquired a rather pejorative meaning ("conventional," "accepted unquestioningly"). However, place themes continue to be inextricably tied to literacy. Today many discussions of literacy are also discussions of place, focusing on such concepts as border, community, contact zone, labyrinth, and ghetto. In keeping with this focus on place, Nelson presents her paper as a "tour" that questions some commonplace notions of place, literacy, and literacy education; and she proposes a rethinking of what literacy is and what it does in an age of globalization/localization. Nelson's arguments, intended to provoke thought and discussion, are supported with illustrations from studies that she and others have conducted and from her travels in North America, Europe, and the South Pacific.


Prof. Nancy Nelson  (United States)
Professor of Education
Department of Curriculum and Instruction College of Education

Nancy Nelson, Ph.D., is currrently the LeBlanc Professor of Education at Louisiana State University, where she teaches graduate courses in theories of reading, traditions of inquiry, and critical issues in literacy education. Her scholarship focuses on reading-writing connections, concepts of authorship, and politics of literacy. She is best known for her work in writing from sources (discourse synthesis), some of which was published under the name Nancy Nelson Spivey. Her publications include The Constructivist Metaphor (Academic Press) and The Reading Writing Connection (with R. Calfee, University of Chicago Press).

  • conceptions of literacy
  • literacy education
  • place
  • writing

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)