A Flat CHAT perspective on transliteracies development

Anna Smith, Paul Prior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Examining two longitudinal cases of writing development, we argue for a Flat CHAT (cultural-historical activity theory) perspective on transliteracies development that focuses attention on laminated assemblage—how times, spaces, artifacts, and people converge in complex and unfolding trajectories of becoming. The first case focuses on Nora, a post-doctorate biologist working on the behavioral neuroendocrinology of birds' sociality. Based on life-history and text-based interviews, observations, and texts reaching back to elementary school, the analysis explores how a laminated history of semiotic engagements have formed her ways of being-in-the-world as a biologist. Drawing on a larger connective ethnographic study of writing development, the second case focuses on the distributed becoming of an out-of-school organization. Based on interviews with focal young men from the larger study, their peers, and mentors; fieldnotes from two years of observations; and youths' compositions, the analysis traces genesis and disruption across time-space scales. In both cases, we see a host of becomings, where each element of the assemblage is deeply shaped by diverse histories, in intra-active flux (not finalized or isolated) in the moment, and spinning off, changed, into emergent futures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100268
JournalLearning, Culture and Social Interaction
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Assemblage
  • CHAT
  • Learning
  • Transliteracies
  • Writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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