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    “I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On”: Liminality in Undergraduate Writing

    Fogarty, Matthew and Kerrigan, Páraic and O’Brien, Sarah and Farrell, Alison (2020) “I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On”: Liminality in Undergraduate Writing. In: (Re)Considering What We Know: Learning Thresholds in Writing, Composition, Rhetoric, and Literacy. University Press of Colorado, Utah State University Press, pp. 261-277.

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    According to Jan Meyer and Ray Land (2006), along with being troublesome, integrative, transformative, and probably irreversible, threshold concepts are characterized as liminal. Their liminal nature is summarized by Linda Adler- Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle (2016): “Threshold concepts involve what the name implies— thresholds. But the movement toward and the (hopeful) crossing of those thresholds isn’t straightforward; instead, it happens in a two- steps- forward- one- step- back kind of way as learners push against troublesome knowledge” (ix). Glynis Cousin (2006) observes that the idea of liminal states aids “our understanding of the conceptual transformations students undergo” in challenging learning situations, like the grasping of threshold concepts (4). And yet, Ray Land, Julie Rattray, and Peter Vivian (2014) suggest that the liminal space “has remained relatively ill- defined, something of a ‘black box’ within the conceptual framework of Threshold Concepts” (201). This chapter focuses on this liminal space. Specifically, we wanted to better understand the nature, occurrence, and impact of liminality in undergraduate writing through the lens of threshold concepts of writing, through which those concepts could in turn provide an effective theoretical and pedagogical framework for our particular context. Our setting is a relatively new writing center (established 2011) in an Irish university that has an undergraduate population of 10,050 students and a postgraduate enrollment of 1,900. Following a presentation of our distilled findings, we explore and contextualize one key action- oriented insight about undergraduates’ experiences with threshold concepts of writing that emerged from the data, that of the coexistence of apparent liminality, a stage that can be paralyzing for students, and authentic liminality, a stage that is important for students grappling with threshold concepts and that is therefore productive and potentially transformative. In the next section, we review literature that has contributed to these ideas of liminality; following that review, we describe the research that led us to these definitions

    Item Type: Book Section
    Keywords: Liminality; Undergraduate Writing;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Adult and Community Education
    Item ID: 18502
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Matthew Fogarty
    Date Deposited: 13 May 2024 11:28
    Publisher: University Press of Colorado
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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