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Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

On-line version ISSN 2520-9868
Print version ISSN 0259-479X


JACKSON, Glenn. Harry Potter and the Critical gaze: Autonomy pathways in literary response writing. Journal of Education [online]. 2021, n.83, pp.69-86. ISSN 2520-9868.

Critical literacy studies require both textual reading and a knowledge of power dynamics in context. To achieve in critical literacy, learners need to work with different kinds of knowledge and integrate them. In this paper, I analyse how learners connect representations of social injustice from a popular literary text to issues of social justice in their broader cultural context. I investigate how different forms of knowledge came together in their response to a writing task. The empirical data comes from a critical literary course taught to Grade 8 learners in an English class in the southeastern United States. I offer an analysis of an exemplary essay submitted by a learner. In the analysis, I use concepts from the Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) dimension of Autonomy to show how the essay brought together information from the literary texts and from beyond to support interpretations of the characters' stances on the rights of elves. The analysis highlights how integration of knowledge drawn from imaginary and real contexts meets both the implicit and explicit critical literacy goals of the task. The findings offer a means for understanding how autonomy pathways can support teachers and learners in recognising and realising connections between texts and broader cultural discourses in ways that align with disciplinary literacy practices.

Keywords : English education; English language arts; writing instruction; literary analysis; critical literacy; legitimation code theory; autonomy codes.

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