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Title page for ETD etd-03282011-140729

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Tiedemann, John Patrick
Author's Email Address jtiedema@ggc.edu
URN etd-03282011-140729
Title New Literacies, New Contexts? A Theoretical Definition of Reading Context
Degree PhD
Department Teaching and Learning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Victoria Risko Committee Chair
Jay Geller Committee Member
Kevin Leander Committee Member
Richard Milner Committee Member
  • reading context
  • reading theory
  • context theory
  • context
  • reading
  • contextualism
  • activity theory
Date of Defense 2011-02-28
Availability unrestricted

J Patrick Tiedemann

This dissertation presents research that leads to a new conceptualization of reading context. The question that evokes this reconceptualization is whether the concepts of context that inform reading theory, research, and pedagogy effectively describe the complexity of reading in the age of technologically-mediated, multimodal reading. I contend that current understandings of reading context are atheoretical and outdated. This dissertation contributes to reading theory and research by providing a theoretically defensible conceptualization of reading context under the current conditions, a new theoretical definition that is useful for understanding print-based alphabetic reading and the rapidly changing ‘new’ reading practices developing in the current technological landscape. It contributes to reading theory by examining in depth a central idea in the literature that has until now gone undertheorized.

Each chapter of this work is a round of analysis that defines a number of ‘constituents’ that comprise reading context. Chapter 3 begins with an analysis of reading context according to cognitive reading theories. This school of thought provides my construct with the sub-categories orthography, syntax, and semantics as well as Rosenblatt’s transactional understanding of the importance of an individual’s history of social and cultural experience. Chapter 4 examines the contextualizing dialectical structure of activity according to Cultural Historical Activity Theory, Dewey’s theory of the transactional and contextual situation, and context according to Contextualism. These three complimentary traditions lead to a working definition of context as the relational network of phenomena (material, linguistic, social, and conceptual) that gives an object its identity and meaning. Chapter 5 is an analysis of the constituents of context according to New Literacy Studies. NLS theory and research provide my construct with the sub-categories society (local and historical), culture (local and historical), history, politics, the material environment, time, and space. These are synthesized with the constituents derived from the previous rounds of analysis to provide my final definition of context that I then use to explore how the mediation of networked communication technologies alters reading context.

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