What is Academic Literacy?

What exactly is literacy? What separates the type of writing students do in high school from the writing expected of students in higher education? What kinds of things has your writing been missing all these years?

Image result for student writing

In the articles”Literary Practices” by David Barton and Mary Hamilton, and “What Is ‘Academic’ Writing?” by L. Lennie Irvin, these questions are answered.

In “Literary Practices,” the authors expand on what literacy truly is. In their own words “literacy is a social practice” rather than simply how and what people write. As we spoke about in class, the purpose of this writing was to educate and challenge the audience about their existing views of literacy, and to make them realize that there is more to it than they originally believed by providing new ways of understanding and resisting traditional ideas of what literacy is.

In “What Is ‘Academic’ Writing?,” the author is essentially informing the reader of the errors of their previous writings before college and the type of writing now expected of them upon entering college. Much like literacy, writing holds many assumptions that must be broken before someone can become a truly good writer.

Both of these articles were not only informative but highly enlightening. While I had never previously thought too deeply about what literacy is or how effective my writing would be in college, I can now see and understand how wrong I was with how I once thought about both subjects.

Initially, I had thoughts that such a vague term as “literacy” could have such a deep and extensive meaning behind it. I thought literacy was simply writing and writing was simply literacy, but these articles have changed my perceptions of both. Literacy has many layers, forms, and does not have a concrete definition or style.

Here is my definition: Literacy is a social practice that changes form depending on the situation and people involved. It is vast and diverse.


Works Cited

Irvin, L. Lennie. “What Is Academic Writing.” 2010. Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, vol. 1, pp. 3-17.

Barton, David, and Mary Hamilton. “Literary Practices.” 2000. Situated Literacies, pp. 7-15.


Word Count: 306




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