“Still Learning”: One Couple’s Literacy Development in Older Adulthood
This essay looks into the interactions between an older African American couple as they negotiate literacy together. By considering the entwined writing trajectories of longtime life partners, the author highlights ways that “Chief” and “Shirley” demonstrate their ongoing desire for literacy in this moment of their lives; how the reading and writing practices of the more literate partner impact the less literate partner, and vice versa; and, what that engagement can tell composition researchers about writing development across the lifespan, particularly for an older couple in which one partner has become more literate later in life. Writing, like many life practices that Chief and Shirley share, indicates personal and practical commitment. Their example can help literacy researchers in Age Studies and Lifespan Development of Writing Studies understand the unconventional paths that writing development can take, not just for an individual but for a couple, and to see the value in viewing writing development as always emergent.
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