LAWRENCE — The Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas has announced that James Paul Gee, the Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies at Arizona State University, will give the 2014 Meyen Distinguished Lecture in Special Education
The Edward L. Meyen Distinguished Lecture was established to attract outstanding speakers to lecture for the special education department in the School of Education.
Gee's presentation, "Language and Learning in a Dangerous Age," will be at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, at The Commons, Spooner Hall. A reception will follow.
"James Gee is the kind of scholar that inspires his colleagues to be better – to think more clearly, to write more boldly, and to use the tools of everyday life in the 21st century to mobilize learning and invent solutions to the complex problems we face in every aspect of life," said Elizabeth Kozleski, special education department chair.
Gee has worked in psycholinguistics, discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, bilingual education and literacy. Gee is currently the Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies at Arizona State University and is a member of the National Academy of Education.
Gee conceptualizes literacy in broader terms than the ability to read and write since language is by no means the only communication system available. Many types of visual images and symbols have specific significances, and so “visual literacies” and literacies of other modes, or the concept of multimodal literacy, are included in Gee’s conception of new literacies.
“After all,” he said, “we never just read or write; rather, we always read or write something in some way."
Further, Gee argues that reading and writing should be viewed as more than just “mental achievements” happening inside people’s minds; they should also be seen as “social and cultural practices with economic, historical and political implications."
So, in Gee’s view, literacies are not only multiple, but inherently connected to social practices and digital worlds. The shift to virtual learning spaces requires re-conceptualizing identity, learning and the role of universities.