Pedagogy of and for the Public: Imagining the Intersection of Public Humanities and Community Literacy

Jacob Burg

Abstract


As a graduate student in the humanities, I am often fearful that my labor is performed for the sake of performing labor. Exacerbated by academia’s increasingly precarious landscape, this fear requires a hopeful antidote: a new pedagogy of and for the public. Constructed through empathic conversations between universities and communities, this new approach to public scholarship and teaching relies on the aims and practices of community literacy (e.g. sustainable models of multimodal learning, social justice, and community listening) in order to refocus the humanist’s work – particularly the disjointed labors undertaken by graduate students – around the cultivation of publics and counterpublics. In turn, a pedagogy of and for the public also implements the digital frameworks and organizational tools of public humanities projects to enliven community literacy praxis. Graduate student conferences are one site where we could enact this jointly constructed approach. By rearticulating these conferences’ capacity for professionalization, by expanding their audience, and by reimagining their form beyond the university context, I argue that we can establish sustainable programs aimed at expanding community literacies.

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Publication of the Community Literacy Journal is made possible through the generous support of the English Department and the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Florida International University. The CLJ is a journal of the Conference on Community Writing.