Literacy Contact Zones: A Framework for Research


  • Nora McCook The Ohio State University



contact zones, literacy research, conceptual framework, contexts


Contact zones are useful for literacy research because they foreground the contexts that recent decades of literacy studies scholarship have deemed essential: history, orality, language difference, and power, with an emphasis on interaction rather than divides. While literacy studies has demonstrated the importance of these contexts for understanding literacy, there is not yet a model that organizes them into a framework for research. Compositionists have paved the way for understanding contact zones not just as spaces to observe and describe but also as spaces in which challenging learning and instruction can occur. In a contact zone, different languages interact through writing, reading, speech, and other expressions because of historical circumstances and with greater and lesser privileges afforded to them on account of these historical circumstances. A literacy contact zone approach calls for researchers to account for the oral, linguistic, historical, and differential power contexts for the literacy phenomenon under investigation. 

Author Biography

Nora McCook, The Ohio State University

Nora McCook is a doctoral candidate in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy at the Ohio State University. Her dissertation is a comparative study of two literacy organizations that work in the U.S. South and in Haiti examining how they prepare volunteers to work with people from different language and cultural backgrounds.



How to Cite

McCook, N. (2016). Literacy Contact Zones: A Framework for Research. Literacy in Composition Studies, 4(1), 50-72.