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Abstract or Description

This project explores the racial and academic identities of South African high school students: how they plan, construct, and write a response to a prompt regarding racial definitions. This inquiry investigates the students’ socio-cultural environment (at school and at home), their writing processes (how they plan and write a response paper) and what factors of self-identity, social environment, racial history, and planning processes led the students to speak about, and write, what they did.

We see that there are many social, cultural and academic factors that influence the writing decisions a student makes. The fact that English is the students’ second language, the instructor’s assumptions and perceptions of how to orchestrate Collaborative Planning sessions, and the students’ meta-knowledge, all impact this literate practice. On a cultural note, we see that students’ identities are deeply rooted in South Africa’s Apartheid period. We also observe that discussing, reflecting, and writing about one’s own identity leads to new paths of self-understanding; it also paints a clearer picture of the steps a student makes in articulating him or herself.

This paper, then, investigates: the historical, cultural, and academic context in which the students participate in a specific literate practice; the students’ planning, discussion, and written responses to a given prompt; and how their writing strategies impacted the decisions they made - as writers, students, and black South Africans. I will also investigate whether what the students said and planned to do mapped on to their final written work – and if it didn’t, what kind of knowledge representation could have accounted for it. Finally, I reflect on my own experience and perspective on culture and race in South Africa.


Advisor: Linda Flower

Department of English

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