Words in the Wilderness

Critical Literacy in the Borderlands

By Stephen Gilbert Brown
Foreword by Gary A. Olson

Subjects: Multicultural Education
Series: SUNY series, INTERRUPTIONS: Border Testimony(ies) and Critical Discourse/s
Paperback : 9780791444061, 229 pages, January 2000
Hardcover : 9780791444054, 229 pages, January 2000

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Table of contents

by Gary A. Olson


Introduction: Of Words in the Wilderness

1. How I Came to Be a Bush Teacher

2. Calibans of the Contact Zone: Resistance and Marginality in the Borderlands

3. The Bush Teacher as Cultural Imperialist

4. Beyond the Contact Zone: Theorizing the Dialogic Classroom

5. Adventures in Cultural Tourism: Foxfire and the Fetishization of the Authentic

6. Decomposing the Canon: Alter/Native Narratives from the Borderlands

7. Teaching the Cultural Conflicts: Toward a Literacy of Resistance



Blends vivid personal accounts and sophisticated theoretical analysis to make a compelling book about one teacher's experience teaching on an Athabascan Indian Reservation in Alaska.


Winner of the 2001 W. Ross Winterowd Award Best book in composition theory presented by JAC and the Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition

Using the author's intensely personal, reflective, provocative account of his time teaching on an Athabascan Indian Reservation in Alaska, Words in the Wilderness uniquely draws together individual experience and difficult abstract theory to make an educational, inspiring, and thought-provoking work.

Stephen Gilbert Brown is Assistant Professor and Director of First-Year Writing at the University of Tampa.


"Brown's is one of the clearest arguments for curricular diversity in secondary and post-secondary education that I have ever read. It not only clearly demonstrates why 'cookie cutter' curriculum doesn't work for minority populations, but also provides a clear path to a sound alternative. "— Irene Ward, author of Literacy, Ideology, and Dialogue: Towards a Dialogic Pedagogy

"This book speaks to three important fields of study: literacy studies, especially critical pedagogy and the influences of Freire; postcolonial studies (here it is cutting edge, because it applies this theoretical body of knowledge to an area within rather than without the US); and basic writing pedagogy itself. Functioning within those areas, the book is most concerned with descriptions of agency, rather than the inevitable suppression of the agency of students and teachers alike. It is fascinating; an 'authentic' and honest look. " — Vandana S. Gavaskar, The Ohio State University

"Part autobiography, part case study, part ethnography, and part sophisticated theoretical examination, this book is an ingenious mosaic of theory and practice. Steve Brown represents the next generation of Freireans—a generation of teacher/scholars who will take up the struggles of critical literacy in a postmodern world. Words in the Wilderness signals the beginning of that struggle. " —Gary A. Olson, from the Foreword