English Teaching: Practice and Critique

Poets, skaters and avatars - performance, identity and new media

Volume 2 Number 2 September 2003

Andrew Burn (Institute of Education, University of London, UK)

This article takes a look at two kinds of new media used within English and sister subjects: digital video and computer games. It argues that the kinds of text made by young people with these media require us to attend more urgently to the range of signifying modes they combine, where language may or may not be the dominant mode. It also argues that this kind of work often also involves a dramatic dimension, in which the work of representing the world and the preoccupations of these young authors is conducted through various kinds of physical performance, which integrate with the digital media they use. Finally, it proposes that, while such work requires a more generous view of the business of English, it also requires traditional models of media education to expand their views of representation, media and cultural engagement.

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