Critical Literacy: Bringing Theory to Praxis


  • Elizabeth Bishop University of Pittsburgh


critical literacy, activist research, praxis


This article takes an activist approach to the discussion of critical literacy in theory and in praxis. Critical literacy has long been considered a powerful schema for critical pedagogical pursuits both inside and outside of schools. First, I address the need to negotiate the language around literacy for activist educational pursuits. I then move to define critical literacy, tracing the history of the topic through its theoretical and practical morphology. Finally, I address contemporary examples of critical literacy research, highlighting the limitations of school-based approaches and proffering actionable elements of critical literacy praxis beyond the boundaries of formal educational contexts. In the end, I recommend conceiving of critical literacy as a learning theory to be applied to the study of youth social and political activist organizing outside of schools.