Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Language of Light: Articulating Tonality in 21st-Century Literacy Education
by Jorgensen, Heather Fitzgerald, Ph.D., The University of Utah, 2018, 180; 10936317
Abstract (Summary)

The concept of tonality is an idea emerging through Mikhail Bakhtin’s conceptualization of the chronotope. The chronotope is a meshing of space and time intoned by historical value that suggests words such as equality, freedom, or liberty do not represent a one-size-fits-all experience. Words, intoned by particular configurations of space and time, may be read as a “texts.” The tonality of words has the potential to disrupt “authoritative narratives” relating to students’ social experiences.

The emergence of tonality has implications for language, literacy, and learning in a secondary classroom focusing on critical perspectives. This is demonstrated in Jennifer Siebel Trainor’s ethnography, Rethinking Racism: Emotion, Persuasion, and Literacy Education in an All-White High School. Trainor discusses the intersection between discrimination and the “emotioned rules” of schooling that perpetuate subtle forms of racism during classroom literacy experiences. Trainor, however, does not account for students’ nontraditional feelings of equality that may emerge as a tonality or configuration of space and historical time unique to the school. Tonality emerging the chronotope reveals different ways to experience equality potentially disrupting the “authoritative narrative” of equality at the school. A discussion of how to claim tonality for social justice through dialogic principles is discussed. This discussion continues into the Harry Potter universe where Melissa Anelli, author of Harry, a History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon, demonstrates frustration with the outcome of a dialogue intended to open doors rather than solidify ideological territory. Anelli’s expectation that her opponent experiences equality the same way suggests a possible space and time for the emergence of tonality. When read through a multiliteracies perspective, the concept of tonality suggests the word equality may be read as a “text” or chronotope suggesting Anelli’s experience of equality is only one of many possible configurations of space and historical time. This idea lends itself to the discussion of empathy versus tonality and how the articulation of tonality may provide a space for exploring ideas and gaining more nuanced, less reactionary, perspectives as students become comfortable with dissonance.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Margonis, Frank
Commitee: Buendia, Edward, Bruce, Heather E, Grierson, Sirpa T, Franquiz, Maria E
School: The University of Utah
Department: Education, Culture and Society
School Location: United States -- Utah
Source: DAI-A 81/8(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social studies education, Reading instruction
Keywords: Bakhtin, Chronotope, Language, Learning, Literacy, Social justice
Publication Number: 10936317
ISBN: 9781658425049
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