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Cultural crossings and tactical readings: Singaporean adolescent boys constructing flexible literate identities in a globalized world
Cultural capital
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Paper presented at the American Association for Applied Linguistics Conference (AAAL 2011), Chicago, Illinois, 26 - 29 March 2011
In this paper, I examine how a group of Singaporean adolescent boys in an elite all-boys school constructed their identities as flexible literate citizens through their reading practices both in and out of school in the context of a globalized world. These boys demonstrated their flexibility through their abilities to make cultural crossings across story worlds and social worlds in their readings in and out of school. In addition, they were competent readers who were familiar with popular as well as school-chosen texts. An important aspect of their flexible literacy was their ability to make tactical readings, that is, to resist dominant institutional mode of readings while conforming to institutional standards through their written and oral work in school. Tactical reading also includes the ability to read different texts for different purposes, a disposition that these boys exercised to their schooling advantage. Their flexibility was a form of power that allowed them to plug into global notions of literacy in their localized context and served as a form of cultural and intercultural capital for national and global markets. Their acquisition of dispositions as flexible literate citizens are in part influenced by class, which provided them with an invisible network of resources suitable for acquiring reading as an out-of-school and school habit. I conclude by suggesting that it is important to acknowledge class as a contributing factor in the teaching and learning of literature in order to formulate the role of literature as relevant to all students in the Singapore context.
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