1st Edition

Literacies in Times of Disruption Living and Learning During a Pandemic

By Bronwyn T. Williams Copyright 2024
    238 Pages
    by Routledge

    238 Pages
    by Routledge

    The wide-ranging disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic altered the experiences of place, technology, time, and school for students. This book explores how students’ responses to these extraordinary times shaped their identities as learners and writers, as well as their perceptions of education.

    This book traces the voices of a diverse group of university students, from first-year to doctoral students, over the first two years of the pandemic. Students discussed the effects of having their homes forced to serve as classrooms, work, and living spaces, as they also navigated much of school and life through their digital screens. The affective and embodied experiences of this disruption and uncertainty, and the memories and narratives constructed from those experiences, challenged and remade students’ relationships with place, digital media, and school itself. Understanding students’ perceptions of these times has implications for imagining innovative and empathetic approaches to literacy and learning going forward.

    In a time when disruptions, including but not limited to the pandemic, continue to ripple and resonate through education and culture, this book provides important insights for researchers and teachers in literacy and writing studies, education, media studies, and any seeking a better understanding of students and learning in this precarious age. 

    2025 recipient of the Divergent Publication Award for Excellence in Literacy in a Digital Age Research from the Initiative for Literacy in a Digital Age

    Chapter One – Introduction: Disruption and Emergence in Extraordinary Times

    Interchapter – The Timeline of the Pandemic at One University

    Chapter Two – Affect and Embodiment in Writing During the Pandemic

    Chapter Three – The Uncertain and Shifting Social Contexts of Emotion and School

    Chapter Four – Memory, Narrative, and the Shaping of Identities Through the Pandemic

    Chapter Five – Going to "School" or Staying "Home": Remaking Places and Place

    Chapter Six – Rethinking Relationships With, and Through, Digital Media

    Chapter Seven – Writing Out of Time: Temporal Disruptions and Literacy Experiences

    Chapter Eight – Experiences of Education and Relationships of Learning in the Pandemic

    Chapter Nine – Conclusion: The Ongoing Ripples from Disruptions for Literacy and Learning



    Bronwyn T. Williams is a Professor of English and Endowed Chair in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Louisville. He writes and teaches on issues of literacy, identity, sustainability, digital media, and writing pedagogy. His previous books include Literacy Practices and Perceptions of Agency: Composing Identities; New Media Literacies and Participatory Popular Culture Across Borders; Shimmering Literacies: Popular Culture and Reading and Writing Online; and Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education.

    'When educators years from now seek to understand the meaning of the pandemic for university students’ learning and literacy practices, Literacies in Times of Disruption will be an indispensable touchstone. In interviews with students that are revealing, surprising, and often moving, Williams documents students’ uncertainties and loneliness in the early days of the pandemic, but also their creativity and resolve as they reimagined their relationships to place, technology, school, and their teachers. Bronwyn Williams offers in this book a wise, scholarly, deeply empathetic meditation on what disruptions of the recent past may tell us about how students learn and practice literacy in the future.'


    John Duffy, Professor of English, University of Notre Dame, USA