Literacy as an interpretive art

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Date

2010-05

Authors

Cheng, An-Chih

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Abstract

Children as young as three seem already to possess amazing knowledge about what practice in a certain context is appropriate and what is not. This study investigated very young children’s literacy practices in an artifact-rich environment, a children’s museum. It focused on young children’s experience of enculturation such as how they respond to the symbolic qualities of cultural artifacts as well as their experience of socialization with teachers and peers. The research methodology involved photography and semiotic analysis based on a post-discourse perspective derived from post-modernism, post-structuralism, and critical theory. Specifically, the works of Bourdieu, Foucault, and Baudrillard were the theoretical basis of this dissertation. The findings indicate that children's literacy practices were context contingent and power laden, and that photography, as a means to study embodied literacy experiences, froze the moment of habitus and capital and revealed children’s sociohistorical backgrounds and traces from the broader society. The implications for early school education and critical pedagogy are also discussed.

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