Sunday, October 30, 2016

How I Spent My Friday


So, we're into the thick of the term already. Perhaps it's because I was out of the classroom for a year, but the term seems to be moving much faster than usual. (Or perhaps it is, as one of my colleagues recently observed, that my institution is creeping toward a thirteen-week term without acknowledging that it's doing so — this point feels accurate, actually.)

Anyway. On Friday, October 28, I spent the day at Pages Workshop Volume V at the Edmonton Public Library. This workshop is put on by a partnership of organizations including government, universities, and libraries. It was an excellent event, and I'm so glad I attended.

Here are some not particularly good photos of what I saw. (I should really make an effort not to sit at the back of the auditorium if I'm taking pictures.)

Morning keynote: Neal Wyatt. Neal is an academic, a writer, and a readers' advisory librarian. Her presentation was about reading and adaptation. She argued that we love stories so much that we are being swamped by adaptations and extensions of oral and written texts, to the point that many of us cannot disentangle some read texts from their adapted forms (e.g., Harry Potter). A fascinating talk!

Morning breakout session: Phyllis Steeves. Phyllis gave a powerful presentation on Indigenous literacy. She observed how easily the dominant culture may subsume the concept of Indigenous literacy — e.g., "reading the environment" — to strengthen its own sense of literacy and to diminish the specificity of Aboriginal knowing. I was so moved by this presentation and will be following up on Phyllis's research.

Afternoon panel: Beyond print. Marty Chan was the moderator for an interesting panel on oral storytelling, reading aloud, audiobooks, and videogame narratives. Are these variant forms of literacy or something else? How do these forms complement print literacy? Are we losing print literacy in favour of the aural or the visual? Some interesting questions raised.

Closing keynote: Margaret Mackey. The reason I attended this panel (and cancelled a class) was to hear Margaret speak about the concepts of post-literacy and literacy-plus. As I've said elsewhere, I am a tremendous fangirl for Margaret, and on Friday was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with her one on one. Her presentation was brilliant and challenging. Of course now I have more reading to do. What a strong conclusion to an important conversation.

In short, it was eight hours well spent. I'm grateful to the organizations that hosted and sponsored this event, and will be watching for it again in 2018.