Rewriting deficit storylines: the positioning of one fourth-grader as comics expert

Stephanie Francesca Reid, Lindsey Moses

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study took place in an elementary English language arts classroom during a comics writers workshop unit and focused on one fourth-grade author. This paper aims to explain how a fourth-grade student receiving special education services positions himself and is positioned by others as an expert during a unit on comics. When students’ knowledge about multimodal composition is recognized and valued, the classroom community can become a place where students can author themselves into positions of power and authority. Design/methodology/approach: Informed by sociocultural theory, social semiotics and positioning theory, the authors conducted a qualitative study to analyze the focal participant’s published comic, classroom interactions and interview data using open and in vivo coding systems. Findings: The findings documented how the focal participant was positioned as an expert by others and how he positioned himself as an expert. The findings also explore how this fourth-grade comics expert left an authorial residue that extended beyond the boundaries of this particular comics unit, impacting his teachers and future iterations of the comics workshop. Originality/value: Scholars have theorized multimodal approaches to reading and writing pedagogy as an equitable enterprise that values meaning-makers using a wide variety of semiotic resources. This study shows how incorporating an explicit multimodal composition opportunity allowed one fourth-grade author space to craft a comic and re-author traditional classroom positions of power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-312
Number of pages15
JournalEnglish Teaching
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Arts
  • Comics
  • Composing
  • English
  • Language
  • Multimodal
  • Multimodal
  • Pedagogy
  • Teaching
  • Workshop
  • Writers
  • Writing


Dive into the research topics of 'Rewriting deficit storylines: the positioning of one fourth-grader as comics expert'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this