Vanderbilt Peabody professor garners literacy award

By Jane Sevier

Kevin Leander, professor of literacy, language and culture
Kevin Leander, professor of literacy, language and culture

The Literacy Research Association has honored Kevin Leander, professor of literacy, language and culture at Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development, with the P. David Pearson Scholarly Influence Award. The award was presented during the association’s December conference to Leander and his co-author, Pennsylvania State University Professor Gail Boldt, for their 2013 paper titled “Rereading ‘A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies’: Bodies, Text, and Emergence.”

The award is given annually to recognize an article, chapter or book published at least 5 years before nomination that has demonstrably and positively influenced literacy practices or policies within district, school or classroom settings. Leander and Boldt’s paper was published in the Journal of Literacy Research.

Describing the article, Leander said, “We wanted to challenge overly-rationalistic and abstract understandings of literacy, and think rather about how literacies affect us in the moment—pushing and pulling on our bodies in relation to others. We brought the work of French social theorists Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari to bear in arguing not only for a dramatically different understanding of youth engagement with literacy, but also of research itself.”

“David Pearson is a giant in the field of education, not only in literacy,” said Camilla P. Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development. “To receive an award bearing his name is a very special honor.”

Pearson is an emeritus faculty member and former dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. The LRA is the leading international professional organization for scholars who share an interest in advancing literacy theory, research and practice.