“Still Learning”: One Couple’s Literacy Development in Older Adulthood


  • Lauren Rosenberg New Mexico State University




adult literacy learners, intertwined trajectory, writing trajectories, lifespan development of writing, ongoing desire for literacy, roles of literacy


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.

Author Biography

Lauren Rosenberg, New Mexico State University

Lauren Rosenberg is the author of The Desire for Literacy: Writing in the Lives of Adult Learners, CCCC/NCTE Studies in Writing and Rhetoric series, 2015. Her research continues to focus on the literacy practices of various adult populations, as well as methodologies for community listening and for feminist research ethics. Rosenberg is an associate professor of Rhetoric and Professional Communication in the English department at New Mexico State University where she also directs the university writing program.




How to Cite

Rosenberg, L. (2018). “Still Learning”: One Couple’s Literacy Development in Older Adulthood. Literacy in Composition Studies, 6(2). https://doi.org/10.21623/