Community Literacy: A Rhetorical Model for Personal and Public Inquiry

Lorraine Higgins, Elenore Long, Linda Flower


This paper develops a rhetorically centered model of community literacy in the theoretical and practical context of local publics—those spaces where ordinary people develop public voices to engage in intercultural inquiry and deliberation. Drawing on fifteen years of action research in the Community Literacy Center and beyond, the authors characterize the distinctive features of local publics, the deliberative, intercultural discourses they circulate, and the literate practices that sustain them. They identify four critical practices at the heart of community literacy: assessing the rhetorical situation, creating local publics, developing citizens’ rhetorical capacities, and supporting change through the circulation of alternative texts and practices.

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Publication of the Community Literacy Journal is made possible through the generous support of the English Department and the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Florida International University. The CLJ is a journal of the Conference on Community Writing.