Community Literacy

Community Literacy: WR 121, Sections 37 and 40

Welcome to the website and blog for WR 121: Community Literacy!

This section of Research Writing will focus on issues of literacy and access by addressing the question: What does it mean to be literate as a person, as an academic and student, and as a member of our community?

As a course, WR121 builds on the discussion started in WR101. While we focused on the essay genre in the previous course, we will expand our exploration of genre here. In writing projects, you will work in various genres, such as literacy narratives, research guides, letter writing, proposals, and media campaigns, to address an array of rhetorical situations. In community literacy projects, you might find yourself creating a media campaign for a literacy organization, tutoring local students in writing and reading, or working with seniors to record their stories, among other things. To learn more about service learning at Emerson visit: To learn more about the organizations that you will be working with, visit Community Partners.

We will start by addressing personal issues of literacy by reading “literacy narratives.” A literacy narrative, broadly defined, is a personal narrative about learning to read, write, or compose meaning and about how you learned to do so. These narratives will open up the conversation about how define literacy in personal and very different ways. They will also shed light on issues of access and relationships of power and privilege in literacy. You will join the conversation by responding with your own literacy narrative or by writing a commentary.

Next, we will explore academic literacy and research to gain a better understanding of the various institutional definitions of literacy. Both sections will conduct research about issues of literacy that pertain to the non-profit organizations that you will eventually be working with. Together, you will create a “Research Guide,” which is an annotated bibliography that highlights the research you conducted and assesses sources for future research. This Research Guide could act as the base for future work conducted by your peers, or anyone who wishes to research community literacy.

The final two units will run concurrently as we explore genre literacy and begin working with community partners. In groups, you will study a particular genre that pertains to your service learning work and present it to the class. The presentation will introduce a new genre to your peers through a presentation, analysis of an example, and a classroom activity as well as a page for this website so everyone can learn from your research.. This will allow you to take charge of the classroom and your learning experience. At the same time, you will work with your community partner on a project that takes shape as you discuss the needs of the non-profit. During this time, you will work directly with the organization to understand what it means to be literate in the greater Boston community. This unit will serve as a service learning component of the course. To learn more about your potential partners, visit Community Partners.