Military Mashups: Remixing Literacy Practices

In the Writing Classroom: Mashing the Military and Classroom Literacy Practices

In the Writing Classroom: Mashing the Military and Classroom Literacy Practices. In this video, I examine the ways that the military is mashed everyday into Israeli composition classrooms. This example is from Seminar Hakibbutzim, a teacher training college, located in a Northern district of Tel Aviv. Pointing to the links between the military and the classroom, Reuven Gal (1986) in his book Portrait of an Israeli Soldier wrote:

As has been detailed earlier, the organizational structure of the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] insures highly cohesive units both in the regular forces and among the reserves. This level of cohesion is expressed in a sense of brotherhood, especially among members of the front-line units, hence its extreme impact on morale and combat effectiveness. However, the prevalence of cohesion in the IDF’s units is not just the result of military organization. Above all it reflects the nature of educational and social values in Israel. Israel is basically a group-oriented society, certainly not an individual-oriented one. (p. 153)

One of the key terms in Israeli society used to characterize cohesion and sense of the collective is gibush. Widely used in the military, the term is also deployed in a range of contexts--including the high-tech sector--it is also commonly found in the classroom. This use points to the socializing force of the classroom and its role in the production of citizen-soldiers. It furthermore suggests the ways that the rhetorics of the military and other national ideologies are deeply knotted into wider cultural ecologies (Hawisher, Selfe, Guo, & Liu, 2006). In the Israeli classroom, it is common to hear of the goal of obtaining a “kita megubeshet” or crystallized class. In this digital narrative, I examine the ways that this rhetoric of cohesion is embodied in everyday mundane and routine literacy practices in a composition classroom at Seminar Hakibbutzim where I conducted three months of ethnographic research: participant-observation, the collection of texts and documents, audio and video recordings, and semi-structured interviews. A teacher training college is particularly relevant for examining issues related to socialization, pointing to the ways that ideologies are diffused into the Israeli school system.

This study integrates the concepts of genre ecologies (Spinuzzi, 2003) and cultural ecologies. Merging these two perspectives allows for the linking of global and local: the ways local literacy practices are mashed into constellations of historical, political, social, and economic factors. Through the continual tying and untying of texts, tools, and objects—that is, genre ecologies—we can examine the mediation of literate activity and trace the processes shaping (and shaped by) the dynamic pathways constituting the circulation of signs, symbols, ideologies, and tropes. In sum, this digital narrative shows the ways that broader social structures such as the military (and kibbutz) structure and are structured by the spaces, alignments, and orientations of the actors. We can further glimpse the ways these wider cultural ecologies structure the activity of writing itself, and accompanying conceptions of authorship, authority, and ownership.



by Steven Fraiberg