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Comunicar Journal 38: Media Literacy in Multiple Contexts (Vol. 19 - 2012)

Critical media literacy after the media


This article questions the relationships between literacy, media literacy and media education. In the process, we connect the findings from a range of our ethnographic research and use these to propose new forms of practice for critical media literacy. By ‘after the media’, we do not posit a temporal shift (that ‘the media’ has ceased to be). Instead, we conceive of this as akin to the postmodern – a way of thinking (and teaching) that resists recourse to the idea of ‘the media’ as external to media literate agents in social practice. The preservation of an unhelpful set of precepts for media education hinder the project of media literacy in the same way as the idea of ‘literature’ imposes alienating reading practices in school. Just as the formal teaching of English has obstructed the development of critical, powerful readers by imposing an alienating and exclusive model of what it means to be a reader, so has Media Studies obscured media literacy. Despite ourselves, we have undermined the legitimation of studying popular culture as an area by starting out from the wrong place. This incomplete project requires the removal of ‘the media’ from its gaze. The outcomes of our research thus lead us to propose a ‘pedagogy of the inexpert’ as a strategy for critical media literacy.