Reading when they don't have to
Botzakis, Stergios George
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This interview study set in a southeastern U.S. city used de Certeauian (1984), Foucauldian (1972/1969, 1979/1975) and Bakhtinian (1981, 1986) theories to investigate how twelve adult comic book readers' in- and out-of-school literacies affected how they developed lifelong reading practices as well as how they incorporated reading into their lives. Participants described (1) what the act of reading comic books provided for them, (2) reasons they gave for engaging in lifelong reading practices, and (3) how their literacy choices affected their lives socially and academically. Data gathered in a series of interviews, including an individual interview, a focus group interview, and a follow-up interview, were analyzed using meaning interpretation (Kvale, 1996) to examine readers’ utterances, particularly the discourses, strategies, and tactics that were intertwined in their reading practices. Participants described a variety of functions that reading comic books held for them, including entertainment, an artifact for cultural inquiry, a focus for critical reflections, a temporary shelter from worries, and/or a companion when lonely. The analyses of my participants’ particular reading practices as poaching and the attention to reading practices called into question the definitions of texts, readers, and school, concepts that have been central to education practice and research. This research project produced a different version of reading than much of the cognitive psychological work that has historically made up reading education research (Hruby, 2001), providing an example of how social constructionist and postmodern theories could be combined to explore literacy in ways that pay more attention to practices than processes.