I don’t want ‘vernacular’ to become another ubiquitous adjective that I just stick in front of every ‘traditional’ cultural category, just like ‘e’ went in front of every Foucauldian discourse/institution 10 years ago (e-education, e-medicine, e-government). Especially considering that I’ve only recently added Nava’s ‘vernacular cosmopolitanism‘ to the pile of readings for my thesis on ‘vernacular creativity’, AND Henry Jenkins already uses ‘vernacular media’, PLUS what I gain from working with participants is some illumination of what a ‘vernacular theory‘ of creativity and cultural participation would look like. But in preparing my AoIR paper I’ve begun sketching out something that includes the phrase ‘vernacular literacy’. Very rough thoughts as of 5 minutes ago:
Just as it is possible to speak of â€˜vernacular creativityâ€™ as a field of cultural production that is structurally outside of, but nevertheless references and is referenced by the artworlds and commercial media, it is also possible to talk about â€˜vernacular literacyâ€™. There are two levels to this concept which follow from the duality of literacy as both a field of contestation and a site of (or means to?) practice, and which I outlined above in the more general discussion of the cultural politics of new media literacy.
First, it is possible to talk about â€˜vernacular literaciesâ€™ as part of the practice of everyday content creation. That is, the range of everyday competencies that constitute what people can already â€˜doâ€™ creatively, and the local, social contexts in which those practices are embedded. Secondly, these sites of vernacular creativity are also the location for vernacular theories (cf. McLaughlin) of literacy â€“ where transpositions of â€˜officialâ€™ debates around literacy are worked through at a local level, especially at moments of perceived technological â€˜newnessâ€™, such as with digital culture.
I will go away and ruminate on all that, I think. But it could be a good way into the ‘stuff’ of my case studies.
And here is what a Google search turns up for the phrase in question.