Hilary Janks has a long experience of providing English education in a multilingual context - six years as a secondary school English teacher and 35 years as a teacher educator. In South Africa she has been based at Wits University but she has also taught at Rhodes, Stellenbosch, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the University of Cape Town.

The research of Hilary Janks focus on the relationship between language, literacy and power brought her academic and political commitments together and she was well-placed to envision an English curriculum for a post-apartheid future.

Texts, identities and ethics:
critical literacy in a post-truth world

Högre seminarium med Hilary Janks.


Given that we live in dangerous times, where democracy is under threat and the planet is at risk, an ability to read the word and the world critically is more important than ever.

Critical literacy is often assumed to focus only on deconstructing, interrogating and reading against texts to see whose interests they serve. While it is necessary to consider the social effects of texts, it is also important to engage with texts on their own terms. Only then can one decide whether and what transformative redesign is warranted.

This presentation looked at the importance of reading both with and against a text as part of critical practice. It explores what this entails in a post-truth world where 'objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion or personal belief' (Oxford dictionary, 2017). The judgements we make about are influenced by the values and beliefs of the discourse communities we inhabit, which is why identity and ethics are inextricably connected to critical literacy.