Disciplinary Literacy in English Teaching and Teacher Education

Call for papers for: English Teaching: Practice & Critique

Submission window closes: 20th June 2021

Guest Editors

Emily C. Rainey, University of Pittsburgh

Email: [email protected]

Sarah Levine, Stanford University

Email: [email protected]

Overview of special issue

Disciplinary literacy refers to specialized ways of reading, writing, and thinking in academic fields. A disciplinary literacy frame reveals what is distinct about how various groups construct and question knowledge using texts, which are at the center of academic communities (Moje, 2015).  In English language arts (ELA), researchers in disciplinary literacy often focus on the norms and practices of university scholars. For example, literary academics tend to think about literary texts in terms of puzzles and interpretive problems, see meaning-making as multi-dimensional, and attend to relationships between form and meaning (Lee et al., 2016). 

Many scholars view teaching the specialized academic practices of the disciplines as a matter of access and equity, and they have worked to bring disciplinary literacy into K-12 classrooms (e.g., Lee & Spratley, 2010; Shanahan & Shanahan, 2008). However, some argue that doing so holds secondary schools to an unreasonable standard (e.g., Heller, 2010/2011), or might prevent some students, especially English language learners and those with learning differences, from learning the general literacy strategies they need (Faggella-Luby et al., 2012). 

In the arena of ELA, these concerns are heightened, as some assert that framing literary reading as a set of specialized academic practices might narrow or distort students’ personal and social literary reading experiences, both in and out of school.

Indicative list of anticipated themes

In this special issue, we invite researchers, teachers, and teacher educators to address questions about disciplinary literacy for ELA teaching and learning. For instance, 

  • What are underlying assumptions of disciplinary literacy, historically and/or currently?
  • To what extent is the goal of disciplinary expertise an appropriate goal for secondary ELA students? 
  • What does disciplinary literacy teaching involve in K-12 classrooms?  
  • What are the challenges of teaching disciplinary literacy either in ELA K-12 classrooms or in university English Education preservice programs?
  • To what extent can disciplinary literacy approaches be used for anti-racist ends? 
  • How do ELA teachers use/understand disciplinary literacy? How do students understand disciplinary literacy?
  • In the “un-disciplined” domain of English, to what extent is teaching disciplinary literacy different than it is in other (perhaps more disciplined) domains?
  • What are the relationships between “authentic” learning and disciplinary literacy learning?
  • What are the implications of representing an out-of-school social practice such as literary reading as an academic practice? 
  • To what degree does current disciplinary literacy teaching focus on the practices of non-academic professionals (e.g., journalists, film critics, songwriters) as opposed to those of academics? And to what degree should disciplinary literacy have that focus?   

Rather than settling these questions, we seek to reveal our field’s tensions and shared perspectives, and to identify productive new directions in research and practice.

Key dates

Submission deadline: 20th June 2021

Final acceptance: 12th January 2022

Publication: Volume 21, Issue 1

Submission details

All submissions must be made via ScholarOne.

For more information, please see the author guidelines.