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Published by: Matthew David Pearson on Jan 06, 2012
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Matthew Pearson mpearso4@depaul.

edu 200 McGaw Of ce Hours: M/W 9-30-11am and happily by appointment

Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse 205: Special Topics—The History of Literacy examines, well, the history of literacy. De ning “Literacy” is ostensibly an easy task, having something to do with reading and writing. But, as we will explore this quarter, the concept of literacy has been in debate since systems of alphabets were rst developed 5000 years ago. Researchers, educators, and policy makers have debated the de nition of literacy, its value, its consequences, and social and educational policies directed at attaining it. In this course, we’ll read selected landmark scholarly articles on the history of literacy. As we read these works, we will ask such questions as: What is literacy? Is literacy the same everywhere? How is literacy different from orality? Does the introduction of literacy in a culture necessarily have certain effects or cause certain changes? How is literacy related to schooling? Does literacy change as technologies and new media for communication emerge? If so, how?

Course Requirements
This is a reading- and writing-intensive course. We’ll be reading about 20 to 40 pages for each class meeting. You’ll also be writing a lot—both outside of class and in class. Nearly all our work this quarter will focus on understanding the texts we read for

the course. That said, you will have the opportunity to explore a topic related to course themes on your own and present your ndings to the class.

Required Texts
Course readings, available on writingandlearning.org.

Assignment and Grading Overview
You will receive detailed assignment sheets for all of the required aspects of this course. I will hand them out in class and post them to Blackboard as well. In addition to an assignment sheet, I will model certain requirements for you in class (e.g., the speci c format for leading class discussion we’ll use). I will also give you all possible midterm and nal exam questions well in advance of the exams. My expectations for your work are high. Here are the percentages I’ll use to calculate your nal grade: Class Discussion Participation: 15%

Blogging (reaction posts, glossary posts, comments on posts) 25% Midterm exam and grading conference with me: 20% In-class presentation: Final Exam (Wed., March 14, 11:45am-2pm): 20% 20%


Academic Integrity
Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated. You won’t learn anything if you don’t do the work in this class yourself, and learning, as you already know, is a wonderful thing. The minimum penalty for plagiarism will be an “F” on that assignment; blatant plagiarism is grounds for failing the course. For a more in-depth discussion of plagiarism see the Depaul Student Handbook. If you have questions or feel tempted to cheat or plagiarize, please get in touch with me so we can talk in person.

The Writing Center
Located in 250 McGaw Hall in Lincoln Park and 1600 Lewis Center in the Loop, the Writing Center offers students one-on-one help with writing concerns. This is a fabulous resource for writers at any level.

Special Needs
Students with special needs should contact me immediately.


Course Calendar: Readings and Major Assignments
Monday, Jan 9 – De ning Literacy
James Collins, “Literacy and Literacies,” and Sylvia Scribner, “Literacy in Three Metaphors.”

Wednesday, January 11 – The Origins and Beginnings of Literacy
Denise Schmandt-Besserat, “How Writing Came About.”

Monday, January 16 – The Effects of Literacy(?)
Walter J. Ong, “Writing is a Technology That Restructures Thought.”

Wednesday, January 18 – “The Literacy Thesis”
Jack Goody and Ian Watt, “The Consequences of Literacy.”

Monday, January 23 – “The Literacy Thesis”
David R. Olson, “Writing and the Mind.”


Wednesday, January 25 – Literacy and Colonization
Walter D. Mignolo, “The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Colonization and the Discontinuity of the Classical Tradition”

Monday, January 30 – The History of Reading
Carl F. Kaestle, “The History of Literacy and the History of Readers.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2010
Paul Starr, “The Opening of the Public Sphere, 1600-1860: Early Modern Origins.”

Monday, February 6

Midterm Exam
Wednesday, February 8 – Literacy, Schooling, and Society
Sylvia Scribner and Michael Cole, “Unpackaging Literacy.”

Monday, February 13 – Literacy and Cognition
Arthur Applebee, “Writing and Reasoning.”


Wednesday, February 15 – The New Literacy Studies
Brian Street, “What’s ‘New’ in New Literacy Studies? Critical Approaches to Literacy in Theory and Practice.”

Monday, February 20 – Literacy as/and Technology
Christina Haas, “Does the Medium Make a Difference? Two Studies of Writing with Pen and Paper and with Computers.”

Wednesday, February 22 – Teaching Writing and Reading
Anne Haas Dyson, “On Reframing Children's Words: The Perils, Promises, and Pleasures of Writing Children.”

Monday, February 27 – Sponsors of Literacy
Deborah Brandt, “Sponsors of Literacy.”

Wednesday, February 29 – Emerging Literacies?
Shaffer, Squire, Halverson, and Gee, “Video Games and the Future of Learning.”


Monday, March 7 – no readings
In-class presentations

Wednesday, March 9 – no readings
In-class presentations

Monday, March 12 – no readings
In-class presentations

Wednesday, March 14, 2010—Final Exam period

Final Exam


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