Fleshy academic literacy

Document Type


Publication details

Garbutt, R, & Kayess, M 2014, "Fleshy academic literacy", Fusion journal, (5).

Article available on Open Access

Peer Reviewed



Amongst other things, we both teach academic literacy. We applaud the way that, in a more democratic Australian higher education sector, universities no longer assume students come equipped with academic literacy. Instead resources are devoted to developing students’ skills in that area. Nevertheless, we struggle with depoliticised and deracinated versions of academic literacy that are purely operational, sucked of life to the point of dryness. In our teaching we aim to put academic literacy back in its context of a cultural practice that is far from normal: that as well as being learnt, deserves to be made strange and opened up to question. We are interested in people doing academic literacy as part of having a scholarly affair, of knowing its moves, its games: we wish to propose a fleshy academic literacy.

In this paper, then, we are interested in suggesting some renovations to academic literacy as “skills” and harness it for different ends. We ask: can academic literacy be better understood in terms of its cultural politics within the academy? Whether it is better conceptualised as practices and performances that are not only confined to academic products in response to assignments or as representations of our research, but are embodied? And whether academic literacy can be taught in ways that meet institutional needs by equipping students with the skills needed to navigate their studies, but also begins with and values students’ literacies and lived experiences, and thereby might offer an “irresistible invitation” to scholarship: a process of engaging with a scholarly comportment towards the world?

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