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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Whose story is it anyway?: A narrative case study of how academic literacy is constructed in a contested site.

Greg Stratton.

Baudrillard (1993) writes that relations between people do not happen in the mode of communication. Rather communication frames things which are already in contact with each other and then searches for equilibrium. Baudrillard proposes that a more exciting mode for making meaning is looking for ways which allow new possibilities to emerge. For him there is little point looking for truth in the location of where he understands we are essentially looking for it, that is, in morality.
The story of academic literacy is a particularly fascinating one because so much appears to be at stake. There is power attached to the descriptions of the world, and for those who describe it, and there are consequences for the acceptance and resistance of particular truths. Beaugrande says ‘responsibility is greatest when the object of investigation happens to be discourse, the main human channel for organising life and deciding who knows or does what’ (1997, pp43) and that research into discourse carries with it more responsibility ‘as we get a steadily clearer and larger picture of how some people are much better than others at using discourse to reach their goals.’ In 2002 six academics involved in a university pre-tertiary course for Indigenous students were individually and collectively asked six questions about how they and their colleagues constructed academic literacy and the relationships they identified between these constructions and the ‘difficulties’ the program was encountering. The responses were mapped as interweaving sets of narratives which when analysed suggested that institutional and federal educational forces were as significant a shaper of curriculum and meanings of ‘academic literacy’ as any interpretation at the coal face of teaching and learning. Academic literacy as it is constructed in Indigenous pre-tertiary program is increasingly becoming a question and a problem of tactics. This workshop will take participants through a tour of the terrain and discourses of the dilemmas and complexities of providing alternative pathways into university education for Indigenous Australians.


Greg Stratton  (Australia)
Lecturer and Course Coordinator
Kurongkurl Katitjin School of Indigenous Australian Studies
Edith Cowan University

I work in the field of adult language and literacy. I also enjoy making documentary films.

  • Academic literacy
  • Narrative
  • Place
  • Location
  • Story
  • Truth

(60 min Workshop, English)