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Brendan Hawkins
Dr. Kathleen Yancey
ENG 5933 Digital Revolutions
30 August 2017

Literacy Artifact Explication


I reason, The stories throughout the book shape who Jess is[,]one of them forever, in
the margins of the last page of one of my favorite books, I am One of You Forever. The novel
depicts a series of episodes involving long-lost uncles who visit Jesss family in their mountain
home. The uncles cycle in and out to visit their sister, Jesss grandmother. Jesss family struggles
to understand or simply deal with each uncles quirks. I choose this literacy artifact because it
represents a crux in my own literacy development. It is not my first literacy milestone, but it is
the most salient tangible artifact that represents my literacy. In it I see the characters representing
my literacy sponsors as well as the main themeJesss struggle to answer the question posed to
him, are you one of us or notrepresenting my own work at claiming ownership and autonomy
of my own literacy practices.
My earliest memory of literacy was my grandmother reading a story to me. I am told that
my grandmother thought I could read only because she read the story so many times that I
memorized the book. Likewise, I have always had parents who supported my education through
their encouragement. Though supportive, my familys encouragement of my literacy was largely
sponsored with the end goal of succeeding in school. Brandt discusses a transactional method of
literacy sponsorship, and my early literacy was tinged by my aim to please my family and their
desire to have me succeed in school.
As it turns out, I became a skilled reader who can interact with texts analytically and
empathetically. Most of the content in my literacy artifact points to the ability to think
analytically by synthesizing other readings from that college semester (see reference to River of
Earth). I also ask other questions in the middle of the page that I dont seem to be able to answer
yet. These questions, which prompt me towards a deeper analysis of One of You, indicate my
pensive, slow-to-process-things personality and inquiry methods. Additionally, the questions
take up most of the page. While I busily overlap thoughts in the bottom of the page, I devote
perhaps a quarter to a third of the page to the questions I have not answered yet. Maybe I meant
to come back to them sometime, or perhaps I meant to let those questions linger forever
unanswered on paper. But the questions linger. The space left under each question suggests that I
did mean to come back to these thoughts. I have assumed that later I will be able to answer these
questions and should write them down.
Similarly, the last line of One of You goes unanswered: Well, Jess, are you one of us or
not? Johnsons figure is a shadow backlit by the sunshine. Both his shadow and the question
lurk through those last sentences undefined, unanswered. Given the title of the novel and Jesss
unspoken inner struggle with belonging, Johnsons question is paramount. With full knowledge
of One of You, I argue that Jess now thinks he is one of them (who them is could be his family,
mountain culture, fellow men in the hunting cabin but is unclear). The words are never spoken.
At best the answer is implied. My literacy struggles mirror Jesss wrestling with belonging. We
are both defined by family matriarchs. However, answering I am one of you forever in my own
life signals my turning point towards self-sponsored literacy. Finishing this book prompted me to
reflect on my identity, define myself, and later define my career path. Finding Rhetoric and
Composition in my graduate studies years after reading this novel solidified my career goals, but
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I knew from One of You that teaching and researching literacy practices and representations of
identity was what I wanted to do. After going through this self-discovery process, I started
defining my own goals and outcomes for my education; therefore, I started taking more
ownership in the goals, classes, and graduate programs I pursued.
If I can make assumptions about literacy in general from my own literacy artifact and its
representation of my own literacy, it is that literacy practices are emotive tasks. My go-to
definition of literacy is Brandts Sponsors of Literacy, which views literacy sponsorship or
acquisition as transactional, one absent of altruism. My interpretation of the transaction leads me
to consider sponsorship as a cold exchange, despite my warm affection for One of You, a literacy
artifact I regard warmly. Therefore, I have recently often neglected the emotive experience of
literacy and how folks develop that literacy. My own literacy artifact is personal, and the
realization that Appalachiafor better or worseis part of my identity and my range of
literacies, academic or otherwise, indicates that literacy practices can be emotional. Viewing
literacy as transactional and as an emotional coming-to-terms need not be mutually exclusive.

Works Cited
Brandt, Deborah. Sponsors of Literacy. College Composition and Communication, vol. 49, no.
2, 1998, pp. 165-185.