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Youth Studies and Youth Epistemologies in English Teaching and Teacher Education

Special issue call for papers from English Teaching: Practice & Critique

 Humility is an important virtue for a teacher, the quality of recognizing--without any kind of suffering--our limits of knowledge concerning what we can and cannot do through education. Humility accepts the need we have to learn and relearn again and again. […] We should respect the expectations that students have and the knowledge students have. Our tendency as teachers is to start from the point at which we are and not from the point at which the students are. The teacher has to be free to say to students “You convinced me.”

                                                                                    Paulo Freire, 1985

True we engage humility, watch me struggle with your words.

 Naomi Saalfield in Nakamarra,”

 Perhaps more intently than any generation before, the broad demographic of youth is shaping the course of our increasingly networked, global world. The March for our Lives to protest gun violence in the United States, the Global March against Child Labor in India, The “Wedding Busters” Movement in Bangladesh where thousands of young women are fighting for “child-marriage-free zones.” Across these and other instances of what seems to be a global youth movement toward justice, young people are creating and engaging myriad linguistic and literacy practices to chart, envisage, and enact change within and across social lives, political landscapes, economic possibilities, and intellectual pursuits.

However, while youth are increasingly at the leading edge of many linguistic, literate, and sociocultural shifts, their schooling experiences often constrain rather than build with and expand youths’ language and literacy practices. In many respects, the demands of schooling and the opportunities for language, literacy, and life outside schooling are moving down divergent paths.

Nearly 20 years ago, at the dawn of the 21st century, literacy scholar Dr. Jabari Mahiri wondered if schools would survive the then ways youth cultural spaces and literacies (re)aligned young people’s civic, social, aesthetic, and economic needs and interests and helped youth “circumvent limits on learning” imposed by schooling.

Now, as we bear witness to unprecedented youth engagement in cultural changes, we wonder if the school subject English, as it is currently understood, is a relic of the past. We wonder: Is the school subject English being left behind by youth?

In this special issue, Youth Studies and Youth Epistemologies in English Teaching and Teacher Education, we invite you to wonder with us how a conceptual framework of youth studies and youth epistemologies necessarily recalibrates the school subject English. This vantage asks what “English” may mean within the context of youth literacies, cultures, activism, and life trajectories that often have little reliance upon schooling experiences. Fundamentally, this special themed issue asks what a youth framework might teach us about what constitutes language and literacy and how schooling--and the work of English teachers, literacy teacher educators and researchers--may adapt to and learn with the “already present” literacy and learning practices of youth (Watson, 2018).

Given how a youth framework interrogates power relations related to who determines and authorizes what counts as English, such work compels a recalibration of not just of the school subject English but also ourselves as literacy educators and scholars. In this way, we invite you to consider the interplay of humility with the implications of a youth epistemology for English Education. As Freire (1985) reminds us, “humility accepts the need we have to learn and relearn again and again,” and as Naomi Saalfield sings in “Nakamarra,” a song by the band HK, “True we engage humility, watch me struggle with your words.”

Thus, we invite manuscripts that “struggle with [youth’s] words” and address such urgent questions as: What might it mean to think of “English” in the context of youth literacies, cultures, and activism? How might/do youth get a say in what counts when it comes to the school subject English? What might the school subject English provide youth to support the work they are doing in the world? How are youth prompting us to envision new theoretical and methodological approaches? While we imagine myriad topics for this special-themed issue; we offer the following to stimulate possibilities:

        Youth-led Activism & Political Engagement

        Youth-focused Literacy Curricula

        Theoretical Reconceptions of Youth/Adolescence

        Youth Cultures, Literacies, Languaging, and Learning

        Youth and Communities of Color and English Education

        Transnational & Immigrant Youth (experiences in language and literacy education)

        Intersectionality, Youth Identity, and English Education

        Youth, Critical Race Theory, and English Education

        Gender, Youth, and English Education

        Indigenous Youth & English Education

        Youth Voices in (Literacy) Educational Reform

        Youth Lens

        Discourses of Youth/Adolescence in English Education (Policy)

        Already-present Youth Literacies

        Hip Hop Literacies intersecting with youth movements

        Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR)

        Place & Youth in English Education (e.g., rural, urban)

        Youth as English Teacher Educators and a Repositioning of Pedagogy

        Youth and Media Literacy/Engagement

        Youth Digital Literacies

        Consumer Culture and Youth

We will consider submission of research papers, practitioner narratives, conceptual/theoretical essays, and creative work pertinent to the theme. Given the topic, special interest and consideration will be given to manuscripts involving youth as (co-)authors and contributors. In general, we encourage manuscripts that push the boundaries of current conceptions of youth language and literacies and help recalibrate the very foundations of what constitutes the school subject “English.”

Submission Details

Deadline: 5 August 2019

Please see the ETPC “Author Guidelines” for guidelines on both kinds of submissions, including word limits. Submissions for this Special Issue must be made through the ScholarOne online submission and peer review system. When submitting your manuscript please ensure the correct special issue title is selected from the drop down menu on page 4 of the submission process. For more information, the journal website is:

For questions, contact Dr. Robert Petrone ( or Dr. Vaughn W. M. Watson (