Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in International Encyclopedia of Education, 4th edition, R.J. Tierney, F. Rizvi, & K. Erkican (Eds.), vol. 10, pp. 209–216.



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Religious influences on the growth of literacy practices are well documented and span more than a century of research ranging from disciplines such as social and cultural anthropology to sociology to language and literacy studies in education. Intellectuals known across disciplines such as Benedict Anderson, Lila Abu-Lughod, Pierre Bourdieu, Jonathan Boyarin, Clifford Geertz, Michaela de Leonardo, Shirley Brice Heath, Alan Peshkin, Claude Lévi Strauss, and Brian Street broke new ground in the 20th century in connecting literacy to religious literacies. In recent years, the work of contemporary language education scholars such as Huamei Han (2018) as well as English education and literacy scholars such as Juzwik et al. (2022) have illuminated the nexus of education, literacy, and religious expression in an intellectual and academic milieu that has typically espoused secularly-minded scholarship. This chapter explores contemporary research in the 21st century that suggests that researchers’ questions about religious influences on literacy practices has shifted over time and is also indicative of scholars’ own changing reflective stances toward the impact of religious literacies in education.