The Uncanny, digital texts and literacy

Victoria Carrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Literacy is one of the binding threads of modern society. Print text and literacy are irretrievably intertwined with many of the core themes of industrial society: family, gender, nation state. In the shift to new digital technologies, changing sociocultural landscapes and new theoretical frames, the growing difficulty in defining and delineating literacy is one of the core discussions of contemporary literacy politics. The familiarity and centrality of print-based literacy and the often-unseen social practices and hierarchies attached to it make text and literacy a strong candidate for Freud’s Das Unheimliche. Consequently, the notion of ‘the uncanny’ speaks to the sudden unfamiliarity of the literacy practices and texts of young people around digital technologies, both in terms of the anxiety caused by the unexpectedly unfamiliar and for the increasing fuzziness of the concepts of text and literacy. This paper therefore borrows the notion of the uncanny from Freud to consider the reading, remixing, production and dissemination of digital text by children of school age. While these practices are familiar social and technical processes for many children, they are uncanny and unsettling for many educators and policy-makers in their roles as representatives of the social institution of school.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-482
Number of pages16
JournalLanguage and Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2005


  • Digital literacies
  • Digital text
  • Literacy
  • Text
  • Uncanny

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