Literacy and Liberty

Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

At the beginning of the semester we discussed what literacy can be defined as. One of the definitions we found was the ability to read, write, and understand. I am interested in researching how literacy is defined across cultures. Every culture has different traditions and ways that they do things.  If we found there to be so many interpretations of literacy within our own culture and understanding, there must be so many other ways to define it. Going off of that, I want to look into the different ways one’s literacy is utilized in cultures that don’t use or don’t often use a written language. During the exploration period of the world’s history, the European countries brought their particular type of literacy and traditions surrounding reading and writing etc to other places around the world that already had their own type of literacy and traditions. The colonized places were required to assimilate and take on the culture of the colonizing. This meshing of cultures created a large combination of traditions and understandings of the usages of literacy.  It would also be interesting to research the significance that literacy has had throughout history and the ways in which it impacted the development of countries and the power dynamic within such nations.

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Meredith, I am deeply interested in your research topic, looking at how different cultures define literacy. I am curious as to whether you plan on generalizing how different cultures across the world define literacy, or if you plan on defining literacy by region, or some other method. I think an approach to your research you could take as you may have alluded to above would be that of looking at how literacy came to have so many different definitions, rather than looking at what those definitions are for so many different cultures. Good Luck.

   Reed Kearins 11.11.18 @ 2:53 pm

Meredith–this is great! It’s just going to need some focus, for which you want to look as you begin your research. For example, is there a particular area/nation/community of the world in which you are particularly interested? Or a certain time period? I encourage you to revisit Sylvia Scribner, too–you’ll remember that she also highlights how presumptuous and “Western” is the assumption that print literacy equals literacy.

Lastly for now: I’m guessing you’ll want a more anthropological focus, but Walter Ong has a classic (if now somewhat dated) book, _Orality and Literacy_ (1982), on these broad questions.

   Professor Seiler 11.11.18 @ 5:12 pm

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