Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices, Vol 3, No 1 (2009)

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When truth is at stake: The case of contemporary legends

Carlos Renato Lopes


In this article I wish to argue that contemporary legends are texts just as worth bringing into the language class as other “semi-fictional”, “semi-factual” narratives that have become staple didactic genres. My experience as a Brazilian teacher of English as a foreign language to Brazilian students shows that these narratives elicit a great deal of controversy and debate. However, these tend to take place in a rather uncritical manner, since the discussion often gets polarized into a dispute of whether the “facts” do or do not “actually occur”. Not being able to move beyond this polarization, both students and teachers would end up disqualifying the accounts, disregarding them as manipulative lies with nothing about them “worth learning”, at best something to be entertained by.


It is my belief that a Critical Literacy perspective has a lot to contribute to these discussions in the sense that it provides both teachers and students with a practice through which they are able to question their own naturalized conceptions of culture and truth. This can help readers to think through the power relations, discourses, and identities being constructed and reinforced through these texts. Eventually this may lead to a reading of those texts as embedded in broader meaning-making practices in which the fear of Others in our social relations can take on many forms, whereby received interpretations and stereotypes of alterity are enacted.

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Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices is a non-commercial initiative committed to the ethical dissemination of academic research and educational thinking. CLTP acknowledges the thoughtful dedication of authors, editors and reviewers to develop and promote this open journal initiative. The journal receives copy-editing sponsorship from the Faculty of Education at the University of Oulu, Finland. CLTP has previously received  copy editing support from the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice at the University of Nottingham, UK.