A Foucauldian genealogy of digital literacies in high school English Language Arts classrooms



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This work is a genealogy of digital literacies. This dissertation uses Foucauldian archaeological and genealogical methods to explore digital literacies and the complex power relations that made it possible and, conversely, represses this most recent form of literacy. It argues that, rather than a vehicle to expand American adolescents’ literacy, the English language arts curriculum originated as a surveillance function that inhibits new literacies' development. It considers how digital literacies have appeared in the milieu of the curriculum of English language arts. Exploring the history of English language arts, this study identifies the four primary strands of study found in the curriculum that emerged in the early twentieth century. Data for this exploration includes two archives. One of the archives focuses on the early twentieth century's seminal period and narrates English language arts' origin. The second archive concentrates on the early twenty-first century and the emergence of digital literacies. Problematizing digital literacies, this dissertation considers why this expansion of literacies became a problem for English language arts educators. This study also examines how English language arts as a compulsory subject informs the pastoral function of governmentality to provide a literate public. This study concludes that perpetuating the English language arts curriculum is neither good nor bad but only dangerous. Therefore, it requires educational stakeholders to continue advocating for expanding the English language arts curriculum to include digital literacies more fully.

Embargo status: Restricted until 06/2026. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.



Digital Literacies, Secondary, English Language Arts, Genealogy