Embodying exclusion: The daily melancholia and performative politics of struggling early adolescent readers

September 2011
English Teaching: Practice & Critique (University of Waikato);Sep2011, Vol. 10 Issue 3, p90
Academic Journal
Examining the body as a site and product of various ongoing discursive processes can provide insight about how identity impacts students' learning and understanding of their classroom experiences. This qualitative case study investigates how two, urban, eighth-grade students responded to being identified as struggling readers, concentrating specifically on their embodiment of those responses while reading. Drawing upon socio-cultural theories of literacy, performance theories of education, and psychosocial qualities of identity, I argue that the struggling reader identity - which often labels and positions students through deficit lenses rather than recognises and builds upon the strengths or multiple ways students make meaning of printed text - is felt, lived, and embodied as part of students' daily interactions in schools. Findings show that the embodied performances of both students revealed a deep, internalised sense of loss, grief, and exclusion in the classroom while reading. Yet, both students also attempted continuously to rewrite their identities as readers through a variety of other embodied performances with texts.


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