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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Literacy Learning Experiences of Egyptian Students at the American University in Cairo: At the Intersection of Transnational Dimensionality and Intranational Flow in Literacy Studies

  • Author(s): Austin, James Paul
  • Advisor(s): Bazerman, Charles
  • Lunsford, Karen
  • et al.
Abstract

This study examines the experiences of five Egyptian undergraduate students at the American University in Cairo (AUC) from different educational, class and geographic backgrounds. This study finds that students from public schooling and lower socioeconomic backgrounds arrive at AUC with significant language, literacy and social deficits compared to counterparts from private schooling and high socioeconomic backgrounds. The study considers how participants, based on the backgrounds, become involved with transnational literacy practices in university writing assignments. The study draws upon scholarship in transnational literacy studies, to inflect how New Literacy Studies considers global and local literacies with concepts of capital and positionality drawn from Pierre Bourdieu. The study conceptualizes student educational and class backgrounds as forms of cultural and social capital which, when deployed at AUC, result in differing participant positionality along educational and class lines. Although this distribution creates challenges for students from public schooling backgrounds, the study also finds that a student from a public schooling background exhibited unusually adaptive qualities, resulting in novel approaches to completing a complex literacy task. The study concludes by arguing that transnational literacy studies be extended to account for intranational movements within uniquely configured embedded, hybrid and permeable transnational spaces that serve local interests.

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