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critical literacy, new literacies, literacy and identity, arts and literacy, embodiment and literacy


Purpose This study aims to discuss the ethical and political possibilities offered by the presence of teaching artists (TAs) and visual artwork in racially and culturally diverse high school literacy (English Language Arts) classrooms. Design/methodology/approach This study explores episodes from two separate ethnographic studies that were conducted in one teacher’s critical literacy classroom across a span of several years. This study uses a transliteracies approach (Stornaiulo et al., 2017) to think about “meaning-making at the intersection of human subjects and materials” (Kontovourki et al., 2019); the study also draws on critical scholarship on art and making (Ngo et al., 2017; Vossoughi et al., 2016). The TA, along with the materials and processes of artmaking, decentered the teacher and literacy itself, inviting in new social realities. Findings TAs’ collective interpretation of existing artwork and construction of new works made visible how both human and nonhuman bodies co-produced “new ways of feeling and being with others” (Zembylas, 2017, p. 402). This study views these artists as catalysts capable of provoking, or productively disrupting, the everyday practices of classrooms. Social implications Both studies demonstrated new ways of feeling, being and thinking about difference, bringing to the forefront momentary possibilities and impossibilities of complex human and nonhuman intra-actions. The provocations flowing from the visual artwork and the dialogue swirling around the work presented opportunities for emergent and unexpected experiences of literacy learning. Originality/value This work is valuable in exploring the boundaries of literacy learning with the serious inclusion of visual art in an English classroom. When the TAs guided both interpretation and production of artwork, they affected and were affected by the becoming happening in the classroom. This study suggests how teaching bodies, students and artwork pushed the transformative potential of everyday school settings.

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English Teaching: Practice & Critique





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© Crampton, A. and Lewis, C. (2020), "Artists as catalysts: the ethical and political possibilities of teaching artists in literacy classrooms", English Teaching: Practice & Critique, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 447-462. This Autho Accepted Manuscript (AAM) is provided for your own personal use only. It may not be used for resale, reprinting, systematic distribution, emailing, or for any other commercial purpose without the permission of the publisher


Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.

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