Literacy’s Ostensible Consequences...

(relatively) synonymous labels for the ideas about literacy we’re talking about...
the literacy thesis “strong” text theory autonomous literacy theory great divide theory

key people we’re talking about when we talk about this...

Goody & Watt

Ong

Olson

Havelock

strong text
Texts linear/literal, based on logical organization. People who read become more like our texts—more linear, logical. We internalize texts and it reorganizes our nature.

strong text
Goody and Watt—Literacy leads to democracy, rational thought, skepticism, history, rule of law...

strong text: how, then?
In groups, articulate G&W’s claim(s) about...

1. democracy, 2. rational thought, 3. skepticism, 4. history, 5. rule of law...

strong text
David Olson “The faculty of language stands at the center of our conception of mankind, speech makes us human and literacy makes us civilized.” From Utterance to Text: The Bias of Language in Speech and Writing.

strong text
David Olson (summarizing Goody & Watt): “Words as distinctive conceptual entities that could be inventoried and analyzed, owe their existence to writing.”

strong text
David Olson (summarizing Goody & Watt): “a writing system and a tradition of writing is not a neutral practice; it allows us, indeed invites us to think about language and mind in some new ways. It did so by influencing discourse more generally, by introducing new genres of both speech and writing. These range from the lists and tables examined by Goody to genealogies and chronicles, to history and laws, to science and literature...”

strong text
Eric Havelock “The civilization created by the Greeks and Romans was the first on the earth’s surface which was founded upon the activity of the common reader; the first to be equipped with the means of adequate expression in the inscribed word; the first to be able to place the inscribed word in general circulation; the first, in short to become literate in the full meaning of that term and to transmit its literacy to us.” The Literate Revolution in Greece and Its Cultural Consequences

criticisms of strong text
Halverson (1992) “a thin tissue of vague suggestions, gratuitous assumptions and unsupported generalizations”

criticisms of strong text

Strong text = technologically deterministic

criticisms of strong text
technological determinism: "new technologies are discovered, by an essentially internal process of research and development, which then sets the conditions for social change and progress. Progress, in particular, is the history of these inventions, which 'created the modern world' The effects of the technologies, whether direct or indirect, foreseen or unforeseen, are as it were the rest of history." Raymond Williams, Television, Technology, and Cultural Form

criticisms of strong text
technological determinism: Technology develops under the weight of some internal logic, autonomously from social forces Technological progression is linear and the new replaces the old Technology exerts and outside impact on society (usually using words like “impacts”, “effects,” etc)

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