79º Encontro

(Encontro Extraordinário)

Embedded literacy: knowledge as meaning

James R. Martin (Sydney University, Austrália)

One of the key tenets of genre-based literacy pedagogy is that genres are embedded in fields, and that learning to write inevitably entails learning discipline specific vertical discourse. This perspective on language and knowledge challenges common sense dualities of literacy and content, enshrined as they are in so many uncommon sense theories of language and mind. In this paper I’d like to return to this issue, reviewing the seminal SFL work on science and humanities begun in 1986, and recontextualising it in relation to ongoing dialogue between SFL and LCT (Legitimation Code Theory) – especially Maton’s work on semantic density and semantic gravity. I will focus in particular on the role language plays in cumulative knowledge building in secondary school biology and history, drawing on work I am doing with Erika Matruglio, Karl Maton and Peter Freebody as part of the DISKS project (Disciplinary Knowledge in Secondary School) at the University of Sydney.