Student Writing as 'Academic Literacies': Drawing on Bakhtin to Move from Critique to Design

Lillis, Theresa (2003). Student Writing as 'Academic Literacies': Drawing on Bakhtin to Move from Critique to Design. Language and Education, 17(3) 192 -207.

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Abstract

A body of research has recently emerged in the UK which adopts an ‘academic literacies’ stance towards student writing. An ‘academic literacies’ stance conceptualises student writing as a socially situated discourse practice which is ideologically inscribed (Lea and Street 1998; Jones et al. 1999). Whilst powerful as an oppositional frame, that is as a critique of current conceptualisations and practices surrounding student writing, academic literacies has yet to be developed as a design frame (Kress 1998, 2000) which can actively contribute to student writing pedagogy as both theory and practice.
My aim in this paper is to work towards opening up a design space built on academic literacies critique. To do so, I draw on Bakhtin’s work on dialogism (Bakhtin 1981,1984) and my research with a group of ‘non-traditional’ student-writers and their specific experiences of academic writing within a number of academic disciplines ( Lillis 2001). I map out the different levels of dialogism in Bakhtin’s work and illustrate the way these are, and are not, enacted currently in student writing pedagogy. I conclude by calling for dialogue, rather than monologue or dialectic, to be at the centre of an academic literacies stance and briefly outline some design implications of a dialogic approach to student writing pedagogy.

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