Wortham, Stanton

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Education
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Charles F. Donovan Dean, Boston College Lynch School of Education and Human Development
Introduction
Stanton Wortham is the Charles F. Donovan, S.J., Dean of the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College. He was formerly the Berkowitz Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his B.A. with highest honors from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Human Development. His research applies techniques from linguistic anthropology to study interaction, learning and leadership development in classrooms and organizations. He has also studied media discourse and autobiographical narrative. Books include Learning Identity, Bullish on Uncertainty and Discourse Analysis beyond the Speech Event. He has most recently done research with Mexican immigrants, exploring the challenges and opportunities facing both newcomers and host communities in places where both Mexican and longstanding resident identities can be more fluid than in areas with a long history of Mexican settlement. This work has yielded films as well as traditional publications. He has been a W.T. Grant Foundation Distinguished Fellow, and he is an American Educational Research Association Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Education. He received the American Educational Research Association Cattell Early Career Research Award and the University of Pennsylvania Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. In both research and practice, he and his colleagues at Boston College are elaborating and implementing a broad vision of “formative education,” in which educators are responsible for fostering the development of whole people, including interrelations among interpersonal, emotional, ethical and spiritual dimensions.
Research Interests

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 80
  • Publication
    Accomplishing Identity in Participant-Denoting Discourse
    (2003-01-01) Wortham, Stanton
    Individuals become socially identified when categories of identity are used repeatedly to characterize them. Speech that denotes participants and involves parallelism between descriptions of participants and the events that they enact in the event of speaking can be a powerful mechanism for accomplishing consistent social identification. This article describes how two different types of participant-denoting speech events—participant examples and autobiographical narratives—can involve such parallelism, in which speakers simultaneously represent and enact analogous social positions and thereby strengthen social identification.
  • Publication
    Life as a Chord: Heterogeneous Resources in the Social Identification of One Migrant Girl
    (2013-01-01) Wortham, Stanton; Rhodes, Catherine R
    The social and natural worlds provide heterogeneous resources that contribute both to instances of social identification and to life trajectories. One might claim or be assigned membership in various groups, which emerge at different spatial and temporal scales, and resources for social identification are often combined in novel ways to yield unexpected identities. To account for the trajectories of identification that any individual travels, analysts must determine which configurations of resources become relevant in a given case. Of the many resources that might be relevant to identifying an individual, event, or setting, a few generally become salient—somewhat like several musical notes coming together to constitute a chord. We illustrate this contingent process by describing one young Mexican migrant in the USA, sketching relevant aspects of family interactions, educational practices, local community characteristics, and national discourses. This girl, her family, and other actors combine heterogeneous resources in contingent ways as they navigate and establish an emerging trajectory of identification through which she becomes a ‘good reader’.
  • Publication
    What Does Philosophy Have to Offer Education, and Who Should Be Offering It?
    (2011-12-01) Wortham, Stanton
    In this review essay Stanton Wortham explores how philosophy of education should both turn inward, engaging with concepts and arguments developed in academic philosophy, and outward, encouraging educational publics to apply philosophical approaches to educational policy and practice. He develops his account with reference to two recent ambitious projects: The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education, edited by Harvey Siegel, and the two-volume yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education (NSSE), titled Why Do We Educate? edited by Gary Fenstermacher (series editor), David Coulter and John Wiens (volume 1), and Mark Smylie (volume 2). These two projects initially appear to be opposed, with the Handbook emphasizing elite philosophy and the Yearbook emphasizing public engagement. Wortham argues that each project is in fact more complex, and that they are in some respects complementary. He concludes by making a case against a simple hierarchy of basic and applied knowledge and calling for a more heterogeneous philosophy of education.
  • Publication
    From Good Student to Outcast: The Emergence of a Classroom Identity
    (2004-01-01) Wortham, Stanton
    The process of social identification draws on heterogeneous resources from several levels of explanation. This article illustrates how, by describing the identity development of one student across an academic year in a ninth-grade classroom. Analyses of transcribed classroom conversations show teachers and students drawing on multiple resources as this student goes from being identified as one of many good students to being identified as a disruptive outcast. This case provides a counterexample to simple theories of identity development that do not recognize the multiple, heterogeneous resources involved in social identification.
  • Publication
    Socialization Beyond the Speech Event
    (2005-01-01) Wortham, Stanton
    Socialization takes place intertextually, across events. This article develops the concept "trajectory of socialization," a connected series of events across which individuals come to participate in forms of life. The empirical analysis follows a trajectory of socialization traveled by one ninth-grade student as she gets socialized into academic life in an urban U.S. school. This student's trajectory illustrates how connections across events emerge contingently, as both local and more widely circulating resources contribute to social identification across time.
  • Publication
    Beyond Macro and Micro in the Linguistic Anthropology of Education
    (2012-06-01) Wortham, Stanton
    This special issue explores whether the heuristics “macro” and “micro” capture the most important levels of explanation in the anthropology of education. Recent work suggests that we must move beyond a macro–micro approach. This introduction sketches reasons for going beyond macro and micro and reviews alternative approaches to explaining cultural and educational processes. The following articles illustrate such alternatives and develop their own arguments about macro, micro, and other relevant scales.
  • Publication
    Review of Ron Scollon and Suzie Wong Scollon, Nexus Analysis: Discourse and the Emerging Internet
    (2006-02-01) Wortham, Stanton
    This ambitious and rewarding book combines aspects of several genres. It is a methodological guidebook, offering strategies for doing ethnography, discourse analysis and action research. It is an empirical report, describing the authors' use of email and other resources to improve Native Alaskans' access to higher education from 1978-1983. It is a theoretical account of how "people, places, discourses and objects" come together to facilitate action and social change. It also offers a theoretical sketch and empirical illustration of computer mediated communication. The book does not provide a full methodological, empirical or theoretical account, but focuses instead on the nexus of these components. The theory of social action undergirds the methodological suggestions, and the empirical material illustrates both the theory and the methodology.
  • Publication
    Linguistic Anthropology of Education
    (2008-01-01) Wortham, Stanton
    Linguistic anthropologists investigate how language use both presupposes and creates social relations in cultural context (Agha, 2006; Duranti, 1997; Silverstein, 1985). Theories and methods from linguistic anthropology have been productively applied to educational research for the past four decades. This chapter describes key aspects of a linguistic anthropological approach and reviews research in which these have been used to study educational phenomena. Readers should also consult the chapter by Betsy Rymes on Language Socialization and Linguistic Anthropology, in Volume 8 of the Encyclopedia, for a review of linguistic anthropological research in the language socialization tradition.
  • Publication
    Review of James Wilce, Eloquence in Trouble
    (2001-03-01) Wortham, Stanton
    In Eloquence in Trouble James Wilce describes how a particular speech genre is practiced in rural Bangladesh: "troubles talk," in which people lament some misfortune that has befallen them. Wilce describes how the language of laments has more than referential functions. Speakers do represent their misfortunes in lamenting them, but Wilce argues that these speakers also simultaneously reveal and shape their identities, engage in strategic interactions with interlocutors, and sometimes resist oppressive social orders. Using data from almost six years of work in Bangladesh and a substantial corpus of videorecorded troubles talk, Wilce convincingly demonstrates that laments serve multiple social and interactional functions.
  • Publication
    Students and Teachers as Novelists
    (2001-10-01) Wortham, Stanton
    Colleoni High is a large three-story brick building that occupies an entire city block. Although the custodians work diligently - so that the tile floors often shine and the bathrooms are clean - the physical plant is deteriorating. Paint peels off the ceilings in most hallways and classrooms, and the building feels old. When it was built about 50 years ago, Colleoni High enrolled primarily Catholic children from Irish and Italian backgrounds. Now the neighborhood has become predominantly African American, together with smaller but growing populations of Latino and South Asian immigrants.