That’s such an odd phrase: how literacy has “pursued” us. As if literacy is a headhunter searching for employees, and that we are unwittingly wandering around and literacy is about to attack. It reminds me of those war posters with Uncle Sam. “I want you!”
In my own life, Literacy has pursued me from the beginning. Beginning with Arthur on PBS kids and all the way to my current job at the DePaul writing center. Literacy is the shadow I just can’t get rid of. Using Brandt’s definition of literacy sponsors (“any agents, local or distant, concrete or abstract, who enable, teach, support, model as well as recruit, regulate, suppress or withhold literacy– and gain advantage by it in some way”), let me explain my various drawings for my personal literacy sponsors. We’ll go clockwise from the top left corner.
- SACS (Shakopee Area Catholic Schools): Local, concrete, enable, teach, support, regulate, suppress, withhold. My grade school did a lot for my own literacy! I learned how to write at this school, and they supported my writing. However, they only supported certain types of writing; writing swear words was sure to get you in heaps of trouble. Not only did they support my literacy foundation, they started teaching me what I could or couldn’t write.
- Tumblr.com: distant, concrete, model, suppress. Oh, Tumblr, my home and native land! You’re the place I go when I’m too tired to do any more homework but too awake to go to sleep. You’ve modeled what a well-constructed meme looks like, and you suppress me learning new literacies because I’m scared people will yell at me. (Perhaps not the healthiest place, but still filled with pictures of Captain America and video clips from Hamilton).
- DePaul University: local, concrete, recruit, regulate, gain advantage. DePaul, like my grade school, makes sure that I know which types of writing I should avoid. It suppresses plagiarism and other types of writing, along with recruiting individuals to attend the school. It gains advantages from it’s literate graduates: most colleges name drop their famous Alumni when they have the chance.
- My Parents: concrete, local, teach, support, model, suppress, withhold, gain advantage: my parents were my first literacy sponsors, from helping me learn my ABC’s to proofreading my papers in high school. They modeled how important writing was, and my childhood self definitely found writing important. I remember watching them working on revising different presentations for a church ministry with other couples, and I think that collaboration is something I carry with me to this day. They also have gained advantages from me; various awards I have received from my literacy have definitely benefited them as well (specifically scholarships).
- The UCWbL: local, concrete, recruit, regulate, suppress: At the writing center my literacy is praised, but also regulated; I know what I can and cannot say at what time and what place. Specifically, there are certain things I am allowed to write in my written feedback comments. If I don’t, the desk receptionist, who vets all written feedback before it is sent to students, will ask me to change what I’ve written.
- Arthur: local, concrete, recruit: Arthur was the defining show of my childhood. When I got chickenpox the episode where Arthur had them was on, and it was my first moment of beautiful cosmic irony. Arthur is all about showing the power of reading and making reading fun, which supported my reading acquisition.
- Accelerated Reader: local, concrete, recruit, support: A points-based system where you read books and take tests, A.R. pushed me to read a lot of books and to read ever increasingly large books. Without A.R., I wouldn’t have read Jane Eyre or Gulliver’s travels by the time I was 13. The prizes that the school offered in exchange for points especially helped :).
- Arthur Levine Books: distant, concrete, support: They published Harry Potter, a book series that expanded my imagination and started my passion for fantasy literature. Harry Potter led to the Chronicles of Narnia and then to other young adult fantasy novels. This sponsor supported my literacy by showing me which genre meant a great deal to me.
- Celebration: local, abstract, support, recruit: many feats of my literacy were met with celebration. My parents praised me when I could read books, and there were parties held for people who read so many books over the summer at the local library. I wanted in on the awesome celebrations, which motivated me to become literate faster.
- Libraries: local, concrete, recruit, support: I spent every afternoon after school in my local library once I turned 12. That’s a lot of hours. All of that time surrounded by books gave me the resources to continue with my literacy and to support it.