Patrick Berry

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Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric.
Ph.D., Center for Writing Studies and Department of English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011.

Research and Teaching Interests: Literacy Studies; Qualitative Research Methods; Computers and Writing; Teacher Education; Cultural Historic Activity Theory; Higher Education in Prison; Professional Writing and Publishing; and Histories of Rhetoric & Composition.

What can literacy really do? In composition and rhetoric, the answer to this question has alternated between hopeful and critical stances that are tied to competing understandings of what literacy is and how it works in the world. Focusing specifically on teachers’ and theorists’ beliefs in the power of literacy to provide economic, personal, and social advancement, I explore how hopeful and critical positions on the transformative possibilities of literacy are not, as some researchers suggest, incommensurable. I examine the theories of literacy espoused by a select group of academics and teachers in light of the personal narratives of literacy they have published or otherwise shared. While the theories in question arrange hope and critique in clear hierarchies, I am finding that the underlying personal literacy narratives situate these theories in balanced interdependence.

I am originally from New York City, where I completed an MA in literature at Brooklyn College while working in magazine publishing before turning to my chosen field of Writing Studies. My published work has appeared in Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy (2007) and in the coauthored chapters of Ubiquitous Learning (2009) and Technological Ecologies & Sustainability (2009). Most recently, I have completed the multimodal book project Transnational Literate Lives in Digital Times (with Gail Hawisher and Cynthia Selfe).