Participatory Popular Culture and Literacy Across Borders

full name / name of organization: 
Bronwyn T. Williams / University of Louisville

Bronwyn T. Williams
University of Louisville
Amy A. Zenger
American University of Beirut

Participatory Popular Culture and Literacy Across Borders

Call for Proposals

New media technologies have created a participatory popular culture in which audience members can do much more than interpret the movies, television programs, video games, and music produced by large corporations. Online technologies allow individuals to sample and remix popular culture content, write back to popular culture producers, and connect with fellow fans from around the corner and around the world. Although popular culture has crossed international borders for some time, online technologies have both increased the access people have to popular culture from around the world and put them in contact with audience members in other countries. The literacy practices shaped by popular culture online are also influenced by the ways in which popular culture images, ideas, and references are read across borders. As students from around the world read and write with popular culture, their literacy practices raise important questions about the interplay of rhetoric, power, technology, and global capitalism. Students who are already reading popular culture texts from other countries or communicate with online friends across borders are developing ideas about literacy and culture that are significantly different than those of previous generations.

In Participatory Popular Culture and Literacy Across Borders we will explore how students' online literacy practices intersect with online popular culture. The book will draw chapters from literacy and popular culture scholars from a variety of countries to illustrate and analyze how literacy practices that are mediated through and influenced by popular culture create both opportunities and tensions for secondary and university students. We invite theoretical, empirical, and pedagogical essays for the collection. Areas of participatory popular culture may include, but not be limited to, fan fiction, fan forums, video, blogs, social networking sites, remixes, music creation or downloading, video games, comics and graphic novels, and multi-person role-playing games.

Possible areas of inquiry include:

• How do students negotiate and interpret popular culture texts from outside their culture?
• How do students draw from international popular culture when creating their own texts?
• What literacy practices do students engage in with international popular culture?
• How are these literacy practices multimodal?
• How are such literacy practices with online popular culture changing students' conceptions of texts?
• How is popular culture shaped by participatory audience members from around the world?
• What discourse conventions shape international online conversations and texts about popular culture?
• How do material conditions and questions of access and agency influence literacy practices with international popular culture?
• What role does language play in these literacy practices?
• How do issues of politics, power, and resistance influence such literacy practices and texts?
• How are practices of sampling, textual poaching, and bricolage enacted in different cultures?
• What role do such practices play in considerations of literacy classroom pedagogy?
• How do such practices shape rhetorical concepts such as audience, genre, and authorship?
• How do issues of identity (gender, social class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age) connect to these online literacy practices and texts?

Please send a 2-3 page proposal for your essay to Bronwyn T. Williams, University of Louisville, USA, ( and Amy A. Zenger, American University of Beirut, Lebanon ( The deadline for proposals is 15 January 2010. Chapters selected for the collection will run 20-25 pages (5,000 to 7,500 words). Please feel free to contact the editors with questions about possible proposals.