Multiculturalism, Appropriation, and the New Media Literacies: Remixing Moby Dick
Project New Media Literacies emerged as part of an initiative of the MacArthur Foundation to better understand the kinds of learning (formal and informal) that takes place as young people engage in an ever-expanding array of cultural practices that have emerged from the affordances of digital media. In a white paper I wrote for the foundation, we identified a range of skills which we saw as fundamental for meaningful participation in this new participatory culture. A key skill for us was appropriation, which referred to the ability to meaningfully sample and remix the contents of our culture for new expressive purposes. Project New Media Literacies sought to translate the core findings of this white paper into the prototyping and deployment of new curricular materials. What follows are excerpts of a Teacher’s Strategy Guide we wrote about “Reading in a Participatory Culture,” which took appropriation and remixing as one of its central themes. In this project, we sought ways to rethink how canonical literature is being taught through schools, using as our core text, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, and a contemporary reworking of that narrative, Ricardo Pitts-Wiley’s “Moby-Dick: Then and Now.”
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