sharing my experiences in crafting an academic identity & inviting you to join me (Please feel free to give feedback, share your ideas and insights, and contribute to my writing!

Hello everybody,

I am excited that I have decided to share my reflections on my writing development and crafting an academic identity  over the years in my doctoral program! I hope this experience will be beneficial to you as much it will be to me! I invite you to share ideas, provide your insights, give comments on my writing and experiences please! I look forward to hearing from you!

First, I would like to start sharing some parts of my earlier writings about how I am crafting multiple cultural and academic identities:

Developing a positive identity as a professional scholar is an essential task for a doctoral student (Austin & McDaniels, 2006). Students who experience two different cultures especially with minority status, may feel caught between the dynamics of these cultures, and have a conflicting self identity, values, attitudes, beliefs, or loyalty to a particular cultural group, which may be problematic (Lee, 2006).  Doctoral students, especially international students, need to be adequately prepared to navigate the full range of roles and identities that comprise academic discourses. Situated in a social and cultural perspective, the theory of multi-literacies suggests that people participate and interact through many modes of communication (e.g., email, blogs, twitter), and engage in specific academic and professional discourses. Moje and Luke (2009) argue that academic identity is shaped by certain kinds of discourses and literacy practices; in the same manner, the ways in which we communicate, and are engaged in discourses can have an impact on how we are recognized as human beings, and how we craft our identities especially for people who experience life as minorities on the basis of racial, ethnic, religious, or other social categories (Pufall-Jones & Mistry, 2010). This paper addresses my own continual journey towards crafting an academic identity through the lenses of biliteracy and multiliteracies. Nancy Hornberger defines biliteracy as a continuum: ‘any and all instances in which communication occurs in two (or more) languages in or around writing’ (Hornberger, 1990: 213); and the notion of continuum is intended to convey that although one can identify (and name) points on the continuum, those points are not finite, static, or discrete. In this paper, I discuss the significance of biliteracy, how living in constant state of transition and overlapping cultural representations between Turkey and US significantly shapes my self-awareness between two cultures. In turn, this self-awareness shapes how I participate in academic and professional activities and discourses, that contribute to my bicultural and biliterate academic identities. 

 

Changing the perceptions about literacy and me as a literate person:

the purpose for this presentation:

I studied in an English medium university, in other words, a university that supported biliteracy.  Biliteracy, as theoretically framed by Hornberger (1989),  is  viewed as a result of overlapping interactions between its contexts (i.e., micro-macro level, oral-literate, and the monolingual-bilingual levels).  Although dimensions of bilingualism and literacy are expressed in polar opposites such as Ll versus L2, monolingual versus bilingual, oral versus literate, when biliteracy is considered, these continua are interrelated dimensions of a highly complex whole.

Starting my doctoral degree in the USA, I had to function as a biliterate person in an academic environment—I was from Turkey, but now living in the US. This made me question all my previous notions and definitions about literacy and biliteracy. In Turkey, in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts—literacy technically means “reading” and “writing”. However, as a biliterate international student, I realized that communicating in another language was not only about reading and writing for academic purposes, but also involved social and cultural matters. Being biliterate meant that I had to learn about the US culture which shapes my expression, and thinking, and seeing the world. As a doctoral student, I reflected on how I function and perform in specific discourses (as   opposed to the contexts in which I use my native language), and constantly compared my literacy practices in these two cultures, the value people attached to these practices, and the ideologies that surround them.

 

How am I Redefining literacy?

When I was asked to define “literacy” in a doctoral course, at first I could not understand why the term needed to be redefined I understood it from a cognitive perspective as I had learned it in Turkey—reading and writing–and separated it from its social context. However, I realized from different class readings and discussions with participants from varied multi-cultural environments that different cultures value different literacy skills and that literacy cannot be divorced from the culture in which it is embedded. In Gee’s (1996) words, “people do not read and write to engage in abstract processes; rather they read and write particular texts of particular types, in particular ways because they hold particular values”.  The way certain societies use a range of texts, including multimodal, can differ across cultures and their related contexts. My identity as an junior scholar began to emerge as I read and interacted with others about what literacy is, my own biliterate assumptions about language, and the possibilities of crafting an academic identity that was social, cultural, and multimodal.

Why do I embrace multiliteracies / multimodality as a research interest?

Brian Street (1984)  argued that literacy practices depend on the context, and they are already embedded in an ideology and cannot be isolated or treated as neutral. Therefore, it made more sense to me to embrace “multimodality” and “multiliteracies” to frame my own research interests.

Multimodality refers to many modes that comprise the way people communicate, and multiliteracies refers to “the many and varied ways that people read and write in their lives” (Purcell-Gates, 2002, p. 376).  A theory of multiliteracies considers agendas that advocate social change.  Because my aim is to provide equal and democratic education for all, a theory of multiliteracies has a potential of cultivating biliterate identities by tapping in people’s cultural capital or “funds of knowledge” (Molls et al., 1992), while multimodality allows me to express meaning across modes (not just reading and writing). Thus, I can empower biliterate identities for myself as well as others.

 

Crafting my identity through conferences

When thinking about crafting my identity as a scholar, I have noted several understandings about theory and practice that have shaped my journey. Sociolinguists like Street and Gee suggest that literacies are more than a means for sharing information; they are intimately connected with identity, or what Gee calls Discourse. Discourses are identity kits that include not only spoken and written language and other means of symbolic expression, but also aspects of identity like dress, body language, and actions that signal underlying beliefs and values of a community. As such, I understand the multiplicity of cultural identities that are expressed through literacies, and my attendance at professional conferences. I have participated in local, national, and international conferences; each has its own discourse communities. Besides conveying the content of my presentation, I learn how scholars interact with participants through spoken language, when I should respond to speakers, and what types of questions participants ask.  I also notice other communication such as dressing, gestures, and manners. I learn how people from diverse cultures negotiate different discourses and respect each other, thereby portray confident profiles in these intercultural and academic spaces.

 

A second way my academic identity is shaped is through my participation in scholarly organizations including Alpha Upsilon Alpha Honor Society (AUA), International Reading Association, Georgia TESOL, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Inc. (TESOL), American Educational Research Association (AERA), and Middle East Institute. For me, scholarship is fundamentally social. At GSU, AUA, which is a leadership organization, allows me to participate in a community of learners who provide me with a truly socialized environment for my scholarship.  My active engagement with these professional communities reinforces my professional identity. For example, I review conference proposals, [YY2] and develop what Bonny Norton calls an “imagined identity” as a future editor of a well-known journal[YY3] . Also, my developing relationships with my academic advisor and faculty, friends, family, and academic networking sites online provide me the support for navigating through different cultures and forming a scholarly identity.

 

Shaping an academic writerly identity for publications:

Membership in organizations and taking opportunities that my advisor and other professors offer is a third way that help me shape an academic identity as a writer. For example, annually, we as members of AUA host an writing retreat to  develop identities as scholarly writers. We are writing a manuscript that focuses on how AUA is cohesively aligned to doctoral requirements and serves as a vital support to students in the areas of scholarship, leadership, and service. I also work with my advisor and other professors on research and write towards publication. For example, I am the Media Facilitator for Global Conversation in Literacy Research (GCLR) research team[YY4] . In this role I edit and moderate seminars and write biographies for the website. In April 2014, I will moderate Brian Street’s seminar. This is a huge honor and contributes to shaping my academic and professional identity. Moreover, I write my own blog where I communicate with other professionals and receive feedback.  I agree with Kirkup (2010) that “blogging [YY5] could play a useful role in professional development ” (p. 76). I reach an immediate audience from all around the world. I also participate in several ESL communities online where I share my resources. I realize that professional identities can be reinforced not only with real people in immediate, local educational settings, but also with virtual people in global platforms such as ELT and literacy communities online. In brief, I rely on multiple individuals for support beyond my academic advisors or peers. Participation in these discourse communities as a writer enriches my life, knowledge, and personal capacity but also that of those who are involved in the exchanges as well.

Improving my identity as a global and local worker through academic and personal connections:

Advisor support was associated with a stronger sense of belonging and academic self-concept (Cutin et al., 2013). My advisors often dispensed professional and socializing advice, and even emotional support for me. My constructive relationships with them have been key aspects of satisfaction in the doctoral program, and the development of my professional identity. They treated me as a junior colleague, not as a student. I was fortunate to work with two academic advisors who come from different cultural backgrounds, Korea and Bahamas, as they contributed to my local and global perspectives as a candidate teacher educator. For example, one of the advices that I received was to define myself and other non-native speakers as multilingual people rather than learners or teachers of English as a Second Language. I understood what my advisor meant when I read about the deficit perspectives associated with the term English as a Second Language. I realized that accepting English as my second language did not help gain more competent view of myself as a candidate teacher educator who would teach in English in a context different than my home culture. I questioned the dichotomies of non-native versus native speaker (Canagarajah, 2007). I decided that acquiring a multilingual identity was crucial for my success in America, which was part of the global community (Yi, 2013).

My second advisor taught me how I should recognize the power of language in both local and global contexts such as home and school if my goal was to contribute to democratic education (Tinker Sachs, upcoming). I understood that being successful cannot be achieved only by developing local identities but also by being shaped as a global worker. For example, one inspiring conversation with her took place when she described how she visited local communities such as immigrant parents, listened to their problems, identified what was powerful about them by being a good observer, and brought their stories to classroom, leaving the deficit lenses behind.  I also learned that appreciation of differences in the local context does not mean that I needed to ignore global-mindedness in the world. I have a global identity as well because I recognized some similarities in various local communities. For example, I support culturally responsive pedagogies and curriculum like my two advisors and many other professors in the world. This recognition help improve my sense of belonging in academic communities. I have the ability to participate in a local conversation at one urban school in the US because I know, read and learn more about their culture. At the same time, I can take part in an international community, or a group with international perspectives, and share my ideas for the goal of social justice as I did in one of my classes this semester.

Apart from academic connections, my personal relationships reinforced my academic and cultural identity. I am married with an American, which helped better understanding of the target culture because I had a chance of discussing my confusions, tensions, or conflicts between Turkish and American culture with my husband. In addition, my personal connection with friends supports my journey. For example, I belong to a Facebook group whose members are all Ph.D students at the same program that I am enrolled at my university. In this “Critical friends group” (Franzak, 2002), we share our resources, ask each other questions, and give advice on how to progress with our schedule or the academic program. The theoretical foundation for Critical Friends Groups is that teachers belonging to a group learn to collaborate by participating in professional development activities such as examining student and teacher work (Franzak, 2002). Although we don’t review our academic work in this group, we still support each other by communicating about the issues of coursework, schedules, assignments, and any other subject related with social and academic life. In other words, through this critical group, I found a safe place where my voice joined with others to work through my own academic and social identity crisis.

Being an integrated scholar through academic and personal connections:

When I started my doctoral degree, education was only one part of my life; but now I understand that becoming a real scholar is living  the scholarship in every aspect of life: personal, social, and academic. Accordingly, I have begun to see myself as an integrated scholar, which means that I maintain professionalism in every aspect of my life, and dedicate myself to a course of life-long learning, and advance the role of institutions that I work for in educating, serving, and inspiring the others.

 

Conclusion 

In conclusion, I will continue trying on multiple professional selves to see how well they fit me. I acknowledge that becoming an educator and a role model for future scholars in my field is an evolving process. Identity formation is evolving and fluid as well. My aim is to be responsible, imaginative, insightful, rigorous, and committed in my social and academic roles. In light of research in how universities define the professions and multiple identities (Brint, 1994), hopefully, this paper will support and extend scholarship in the area of international students’ bicultural self-efficacy.

References

Austin, A. E., & McDaniels, M. (2006). Using doctoral education to prepare faculty to work within Boyer’s four domains of scholarship. In J. M. Braxton (Ed.), Analyzing faculty work and rewards: Using Boyer’s four domains of scholarship. New Directions for Institutional Research, No. 129. (pp. 51-65). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Brint, S. (1994). In an age of experts: The changing role of professionals in politics and public life. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Canagarajah, A. S. (2007). Lingua Frannca English, multilingual communities, and language acquisition. Modern Language Journal, 91: 923-939.

Franzak, J. K. (2002). Developing a teacher identity: The impact of critical friends practice on the student teacher. English Education, 34(4), 258-280.

Gee, J. P. (1996). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in Discourses. (2nd Ed.). London: Taylor & Francis.

Hornberger, N. (1989).  Continua of biliteracy. Review of Educational Research, 59 (3),                   271-296.

Kirkup, G. (2010). Academic blogging: academic practice and academic identity. London Review Of Education, 8(1), 75-84.

Moje, E. B., & Luke, A. (2009). Literacy and identity: Examining the metaphors in history and contemporary research. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(4), 415–437.

Moll, L.C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory Into Practice, (31)2, 132–141.

Norton, B. (2001). Non-participation, imagined communities, and the language classroom. In M. Breen (Ed.), Learner contributions to language learning: New directions in research (pp. 159-171). Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Pufall-Jones, E., & Mistry, J. (2010). Navigating across cultures: Narrative constructions of lived experiences. Journal Of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research, 4(3), 151-167.

Purcell-Gates, V. (2002). Multiple literacies.. In B.J. Guzzetti (Ed.). Literacy in America: An encyclopedia of history, theory and practice. (pp. 376-380). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC CLIO.

Street, B. V. (1984). Literacy in theory and practice. NY: Cambridge University press. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Tinker Sachs, G. (forthcoming). You are one of us. Forging the development of dialogic communities of practice in the Bahamas. In C. Leung, J. Richards & C. Lassonde (Eds.), International collaboration in literacy research practice, (Chapter 13). Information Age Publishing.

Yi, Y. (2013). Adolescent multilingual writer’s negotiation of multiple identities and access to academic writing: A case study of a Jogi Yuhak student in an American high school. Canadian Modern Language Review, 69(2), 207-231.

 

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

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