Rereading "A pedagogy of Multiliteracies": Bodies, texts, and emergence

Kevin Leander, Gail Boldt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

368 Scopus citations


In this article, we explore our concern with the way youth identities and literacy research and practices are framed through a dominant conceptual paradigm in new literacy studies, namely, as articulated in the 1996 New London Group's "A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures." More than any other text, "A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies" streams powerfully through doctoral programs, edited volumes, books, journal reviews, and calls for conference papers, as the central manifesto of the new literacies movement. In what follows, we draw heavily from the work of Deleuze and Guattari to take issue with the New London Group's disciplined rationalization of youth engagement in literacies.We organize our critical exploration of "A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies" around Lee, a 10-year-old boy we follow through one day as he engages in reading and playing with text from Japanese manga. Our goal with this rereading is to reassert the sensations and movements of the body in the moment-by-moment unfolding or emergence of activity. This nonrepresentational approach describes literacy-related activity not as projected toward some textual end point but as living its life in the ongoing present, forming relations and connections across signs, objects, and bodies in often unexpected ways. Such activity is saturated with affect and emotion; it creates and is fed by an ongoing series of affective intensities that are different from the rational control of meanings and forms. It helps us to keep the distinction between description and prescription sharp and to begin imagining what else might be going on.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-46
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Literacy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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