Bill McGinley
Professor Emeritus
Literacy Studies • Humanities Education

School of Education, Room 104
University of Colorado Boulder
249 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

William McGinley is Associate Professor of Literacy Studies. His teaching areas of interest include language and literacy across the curriculum; teaching literature in secondary school; and literacy in families, schools, and communities. Research areas of interest include literature and the humanities in public education; literacy and culture; book clubs and popular reading; community-based literacy practices; teacher education and community mentorships.

In 2006, he wrote and co–directed Legends and Love, a dramatic poem that was performed by several high school students at the Paramount Theater in Denver. Recent papers and published works include Novel Ideas: Literacy Imagination and Literacy Research, Amazing Space: Reading Life in the Literature ClassroomLiterature and the Life of our Classrooms: Transforming our Students/Transforming Ourselves (with George Kamberelis), Literary Retailing and the Re-making of Popular Reading (with Katanna Conley), "We've Been Through it:" The Pedagogy of Adult Community Members in an Urban After School Program, and Pedagogy for a Few: The Modern Book Industry as Literature Teacher. His work has appeared in a wide range of nationally recognized and regional journals. He is currently working on a book-length play based on his experiences as founder and director of Literacy and Learning for Life, an innovative after school literacy program in a Denver community center. He has received university and professional awards for his research and his programs involving community outreach and service. He is the founder and editor of Spoken, an on-line performance poetry journal for high school students in the Denver metropolitan and Boulder Valley areas. In addition, he currently runs several literacy–based outreach and professional development programs in local high schools and elementary schools. 


PhD English Education, University of Illinois, 1989
MA Literacy Education, Idaho State University, 1983
BA English Creative Writing, Western Kentucky University, 1976

I have focused my research in several related areas of language and literacy education. My professional activities are an attempt to conceptualize research, teaching, and community service as connected endeavors. First, I have investigated the everyday forms of broader educational knowledge that adult community members practice in the context of teaching young children and mentoring preservice teachers in an urban after-school literacy program. Second, I have continued to examine the influence of corporate technologies and discourses on social and educational life in America. This work has lead me to examine the commodification of reading practices among the general reading public (i.e., book clubs), as well as the corporate production and authorization of school literacy curricula through a range of technology-based venues. My most recent work examines the influence of state-based curriculum standards on the teaching of literature in public high schools.

My teaching interests are in the related fields of English education and literacy education. I teach courses designed to prepare English teachers for secondary school classrooms. In each of these courses, my focus is on the role of the humanities in public life, and the many different uses to which literacy is put both in and out of school.

Courses frequently taught

EDUC 5235/4322: Teaching Literature in Secondary School Classrooms

EDUC 5325/4232: Language and Literacy Across the Curriculum

EDUC 8804: Doctoral Seminar in Literacy

Selected Professional Service

  • National Reading Conference Yearbook (Editorial Advisory Board, 1995-present)
  • National Reading Conference (Research Ethics Committee, 1996-97)

Selected University Service

  • University Library Committee 1994-95

School of Education

  • Area Chair, Secondary Teacher Education (1993-2004)
  • Program Chair, Instruction and Curriculum in the Content Areas (1999-2004)
  • Dean's Advisory Committee (1999-2004)
  • Search Committees: English and Literacy Education (1995-96, 1996-97, 1999-2000, 2001-02)
  • Promotion and Tenure Committee (2000-01)

Selected State and Local Outreach

  • Founder and Project Director, 1998-present Literacy for Learning and Life: An After School Program, Neighborhood Ministries Community Center, Denver, Colorado

Literacy and Learning for Life is a fully operating after-school program in the Five Points Community of Denver, Colorado. In 1998, I founded the program in collaboration with the staff at Neighborhood Ministries where the program is currently located. The primary goal of this program is to provide an intellectually supportive and nurturing environment designed to help young children (ages 6 to 8) improve their reading and writing skills while also helping them to become more aware of the important role that literacy may play in their lives. Additionally, Literacy and Learning for Life offers a rather unique approach to the professional development of preservice teachers enrolled in the School of Education Teacher Licensure Program at the University of Colorado. The program faculty is a combination of CU students and adults from the Five Points Community. Each semester, the school program mentors five to six students from the School of Education who work as teachers in the program. As part of this involvement, preservice teachers also collaborate weekly with the participating community faculty, which presently include one Latino woman and three African American adult males. At this time, approximately 25 children from the community attend the program daily where they engage in a wide range of literacy-related instructional activities. The program is supported by grants from the National Council of Teachers of English, The International Reading Association, IMPART, and the University of Colorado Grant-in-Aid.

  • Founder and Project Director, 1997-99
    Outreach Through Undergraduate Tutoring (Project OUT)
    School of Education, University of Colorado

Project OUT provides leadership opportunities for undergraduate students of color in arts and science who are interested in the possibility of teaching as a profession and the prospect of serving as a personal and academic mentor for high school students. Participating students from the University of Colorado are placed in Denver Metro area high schools where they work as academic tutors and develop mentoring relationships with students from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds.

  • Co-founder and Co-Director (with Professor Shuaib Meacham), 1996-99
    Project BLUES: Building Literacy in Urban Educational Settings
    Neighborhood Ministries Community Center-Denver, Colorado

Project BLUES is a collaborative research and development effort with the Neighborhood Ministries Community Center in Denver, Colorado. Specifically, Project BLUES is a non-profit literacy program that conceptualizes literacy instruction as an important vehicle that may be instrumental in fostering more vital connections between community members, schools, and other local institutions. In the context of this program, participating adults engage in a variety of reading and storytelling experiences. In addition, a vital aspect of the adults' motivation for their own literacy learning in the program is the preparation they receive related to assisting young readers at a neighborhood elementary school. In the context of this instruction, stories are conceptualized as one of the primary means through which adults (and children) develop their own literacy skills, prepare to participate in school children's literacy development, as well as to imagine and take up more productive forms of community life.

  • Co-Project Director (with Daniel Madigan and Victoria Rybicki), 1989-92
    Culturally Relevant Literacy Pedagogy in an African-American School Community
    Francis Parkman Elementary School - Detroit, Michigan

This project involved working with teachers and school administrators in developing literacy curricula that was both personally meaningful and culturally relevant to the children attending Francis Parkman Elementary School. Although children engaged in a variety of projects that integrated writing and community-related service (e.g., writing with adults in health care facilities) the cornerstone of this project was the publication of anthologies written by school children documenting their own life histories and experiences, as well as the histories and experiences of peers, parents, family members, and members of the community. Public readings of children's written work were also an important component of the program.

(For complete list of publications, please see the faculty member's curriculum vitae.)

McGinley, W., & Kamberelis, G. (2002). Just only stories. Colorado Libraries, 28(1), 6-10.

McGinley, W. & Conley, K. (2001). Literary retailing and the (re)making of popular reading. Journal of Popular Culture, 35 (2), 207-221.

McGinley, W, Conley, K., & White, J. (2000). Pedagogy for a few: The modern book industry as literature teacher. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 44 (3), 204-214.

McGinley, W., & Mahoney, T. (1998). Cultural authority and the discursive construction of literature in commercially produced book club discussion guides. In Literacy research, theory, and practice: Views from many perspectices (pp. 129-142). Forty-seventh yearbook of the National Reading Conference.

McGinley, W., Kamberelis, G., Mahoney, T., Madigan, D., Rybikci, V., & Oliver, J. (1997). Re-visioning reading and teaching literature through the lens of narrative story. In T. Rogers & A. Soter (Eds.), Reading across cultures: Teaching literature in a diverse society (pp. 42-68). New York: Teachers College Press.

McGinley, W., & Kamberelis, G. (1996). Maniac magee and ragtime tumpie: Children negotiating self and world through reading and writing. Research in the Teaching of English, 30, 1-39.

McGinley, W., Mahoney, T., & Kamberelis, G. (1995). Reconsidering stories. Statement: Journal of the Colorado Language Arts Society, 31, 9-16.

McGinley, W., & Kamberelis, G. (1992). "I'm glad I wrote it instead of just saying it." In S. Hudson-Ross, L. Miller-Cleary, M. Casey (Eds.), Children's voices: Children talk about literacy. Montclair, NJ: Boynton Cook/Heinemann.

Abdullah, S., Kamberelis, G., & McGinley, W. (1992). Literacy, identity, and resistance within the African-American slave community and some reflections for new forms of literacy. In Literacy research, theory, and practice: Views from many perspectices (pp. 379-391). Forty-first yearbook of the National Reading Conference.

Denner, P. R., & McGinley, W. (1992). Effects of two pre-reading activities on junior high students' story recall. Journal of Educational Research , 86 (1), 11-19.

Kamberelis, G., & McGinley, W. (1992). One writer's construction of text and self: The role of voice. In Literacy research, theory, and practice: Views from many perspectices (pp. 199-241). Forty-first yearbook of the National Reading Conference.

McGinley, W., & Kamberelis, G. (1992). Personal, social, and political functions of children's reading and writing. In Literacy research, theory, and practice: Views from many perspectices (pp. 403-412). Forty-first yearbook of the National Reading Conference.

McGinley, W. (1992). The role of reading and writing while composing from sources. Reading Research Quarterly , 27 (3), 227-248.

McGinley, W., & Kamberelis, G. (1992). Transformative functions of children's writing. Language Arts, 69, 10-18.

McGinley, W., & Madigan, D. (1990). The research story: A forum for integrating reading, writing, and learning. Language Arts, 67, 474-483.

McGinley, W., & Tierney, R. J. (1989). Traversing the topical landscape: Reading and writing as ways of knowing. Written Communication, 6, 243-269.

Denner, P. R., McGinley, W., & Brown, E. (1989). The effects of story-impressions as a pre-reading-writing activity on students' story comprehension. Journal of Educational Research , 82 (1), 320-326.

Tierney, R. J., Soter, A., O'Flahavan, J., & McGinley, W. (1989). The effects of reading and writing on thinking critically. Reading Research Quarterly, 24 (2), 134-173.

McGinley, W., & Denner, P. R. (1987). Story-impressions: A prereading-writing activity . Journal of Reading, 31 (3), 248-253.