Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse 205: Special Topics—The History of Literacy examines, well, the history of literacy. Defining “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 first developed 5000 years ago. Researchers, educators, and policy makers have debated the definition 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?