“Multilingual Literacy Landscapes”
by Alanna Frost & Suzanne Blum Malley
in Stories that Speak to Us: Exhibits from the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives edited by H. Lewis Ulman, Scott Lloyd DeWitt, and Cynthia L. Selfe
ABSTRACT | In this curated exhibit of literacy narratives, we (Frost and Blum Malley) reflect on the work that five of our students have recorded or composed for submission to the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN). The literacy narratives of multilingual contributors to the DALN serve as a valuable resources for understanding and appreciating the linguistic and rhetorical versatility with which multilingual composers creatively navigate a variety of contexts, discourses, and modes of communication.
Rodriguez argues for a methodology of studying writing in public spaces that can determine a community’s “ethnolinguistic vitality” (1). It is, indeed, this vitality that we feel best describes the multilingual and multimodal compositions found on the DALN. We see multiple parallels between the interrogation of multilingual and multimodal literacy narratives and the ways in which those narratives can contribute to both an in-depth investigation of individual signs and symbols as well as broad view of an overall literacy landscape. The variety and complexity of multilingual and multimodal literacy narratives offers a public space in which community members repeatedly, even unknowingly, challenge global understandings of what it means to communicate in “English.”