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This article uses the theoretical perspectives of critical discourse analysis (Mayr, 2008; Fairclough, 1992) and critical pedagogy (Pagowsky & McElroy, 2016; Accardi, et al., 2010) to explore how language is a socially regulating structure used to represent and maintain power within the academic context. These perspectives are applied to two case studies of library terminology used in the authors’ library orientation sessions to examine how language reinforces Western academic ideologies and structures of power in the information literacy (IL) classroom. This analysis facilitates an exploration of how language used in these contexts can both alienate and empower students within the IL classroom. In addition, other aspects that are explored include power dynamics and student voice within the classroom, critical discourse analysis as a tool for IL instruction reflection, and how these are connected to critical pedagogy. The authors also provide questions regarding privilege and power in IL to support library professionals in fostering meaningful reflections and dialogue, challenging their status quo and exploring new approaches to using critical IL in teaching.
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