working bibliography for ENG 595 paper

Barker, Thomas T., and Fred O. Kemp. “Network Theory: A Postmodern Pedagogy for the Writing Classroom.” Computers and Community. Ed. Carolyn Handa. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1990. 1-27. Have Valley copy of book.

Bomberger, Ann M. “Ranting about race: Crushed eggshells in computer-mediated communication.” Computers and Composition 21 (2004): 197-216. Pdf and hard copy.

Bump, Jerome. “Radical Changes in Class Discussion Using Networked Computers.” Computers and the Humanities 24 (1990): 49-65. (In Lenard’s Works Cited)

Castner, Joanna A. “The Clash of Social Categories: What Egalitarianism in Networked Writing Classrooms?” Computers and Composition 14 (1997): 257-268. Pdf and hard copy.

Cooper, Marilyn M., and Cynthia L. Selfe. “Computer Conferences and Learning: Authority, Resistance, and Internally Persuasive Discourse.” College English 52.8 (1990): 847-869. Hard copy.

Cooper, Marilyn (1999). Postmodern possibilities in electronic conversations. In Gail E. Hawisher & Cynthia L. Selfe (Eds.) Passions, pedagogies, and 21st century technologies (pp. 140-160).  Logan: Utah State University. Summited 2-18-09

Faigley, Lester. Fragments of Rationality: Postmodernity and the Subject of Composition. Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1992. Hard copy of chapter.

The postmodern era is characterized by randomness of experience, unopposed by any transcendent terms, a randomness that terrifies with the prospect of total dissolution while exhilarating with the possibility of free play of identities and social locations—that is, of subject positions. Composition pedagogy is often unresponsive to postmodernity, continuing to assume that unitary selves compose purposeful, linearly structured, generically recognizable texts. While this focus is often promoted by academic institutions as serving the practical ends of efficient communication, composition scholars increasingly resist it as oppressive to diverse students. A more postmodern composition study entails looking at how discourses, and the unequal power relations among them, are historically produced. Yet the field is still reluctant to abandon a unitary notion of students’ subjectivities. The field needs the kind of destabilized, decentered view that characterizes the networked classroom, where online discussion allows free play with different personae and even “forbidden” discourses (e.g., homophobic, racist, sexist). The problem that remains is how to establish an ethics of engagement for social action against the oppressive economic and discursive structures that postmodern analysis purports to reveal. Winner of CCCC Outstanding Book Award for 1994.

Hawisher, Gail E., and Cynthia Selfe. “Teaching Writing at A Distance: What’s Gender Got to Do with It?”

Kremers, Marshall. “Sharing Authority on a Synchronous Network: The Case for Riding the Beast.” Computers and Composition 7 (1990): 33-44. NEED

Laurinen, Leena I., and Miika J. Marttunen. “Written arguments and collaborative speech acts in practising the argumentative power of language through chat debates.” Computers and Composition 24 (2007): 230-246. Pdf and hard copy.

LeCourt, Donna. “Critical Pedagogy in the Computer Classroom: Politicizing the Writing Space.” Computers and Composition 15 (1998): 275-295. Pdf and hard copy.

Lenard, Mary. “Dealing with Online Selves: Ethos Issues in Computer-Assisted Teaching and Learning.” Pedagogy 5.1 (2005): 77-95. Have copy of issue (AH’s), need to make copy.

McKee, Heidi. “‘YOUR VIEWS SHOWED TRUE IGNORANCE!!!’: (Mis)Communication in an online interracial discussion forum.” Computers and Composition 19 (2002): 411-434. Pdf and hard copy.

McKee, Heidi. “‘Always a Shadow of hope’: Heteronormative binaries in an online discussion of sexuality and sexual orientation.” Computers and Composition 21 (2004): 315-340. Pdf and hard copy.

McMillan-Clifton, Alexis. “The Confluence: Process Theory, Contact Zones, and Online Composition.” TCC 2007 Proceedings. Pdf and hard copy.

Regan, Alison. “‘Type normal like the rest of us’: Writing, Power, and Homophobia in the Networked Composition Classroom.” Computers and Composition 9.4 (1993): 11-23. http://computersandcomposition.osu.edu/archives/v10/10_4_html/10_4_2_Regan.html   Can’t find online in CC archives (via Valley)  HTML and hard copy

Romano, Susan. “The Egalitarian Narrative: Whose Story? Which Yardstick?”

Spears, Russell, and Martin Lea. “Panacea or Panopticon? The Hidden Power in Computer-Mediated Communication.” Communication Research 21.4 (1994): 427-459. Avail at Valley P91 .C56
ABSTRACT: This article examines how interaction by means of computer-mediated communication (CMC) affects the operation of both status differentials and power relations. The authors attempt to provide a corrective to the dominant assessment, particularly within social psychological analyses, that CMC tends to equalize status, decentralize and democratize decision making, and thus empower and liberate the individual user. This emphasis contrasts with sociological critiques employing the Foucauldian metaphor of the panopticon, claiming that power relations can actually be reinforced in CMC. The authors argue that prevailing conceptualizations of influence and power within social psychology have tended to prefigure the more optimistic account, and outline a theoretical framework in which processes of “panoptic power” in CMC are given a more concrete social psychological foundation.

Sujo de Montes, L.E., et al. “Power, language, and identity: Voices from an online course.” Computers and Composition 19 (2002): 251-271. Pdf and hard copy.

Trimbur, John. “Consensus and Difference in Collaborative Learning.” College English 51 (1989): 602-616. Hard copy.

Warshauer, Susan Claire. “Rethinking Teacher Authority to Counteract Homophobic Prejudice in the Networked Classroom: A Model of Teacher Response and Overview of Classroom Methods.” Computers and Composition 21.1 (1995): 97-111. Pdf and hard copy.

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technological theology: or, freewriting toward a “literacy and technology narrative”

form and content, form and content, matter and energy, spirit and matter, ideas and sentences, html and well-crafted sentences…

It’s interesting how form and content, via increasing technology, are getting more imbricated, more meshed, more obviously bound up with each other, more inherent with each other. So, the Greek view and the Gnostic view (that spirit is the only thing that matters, that the body would do well to be left behind) is wrong. Wrong, wrong, can’t be right. And our technology helps us see that, right?

Thought seems like, or traditional metaphysical / theistic thinking is that thought can exist separate from a body, in the way an idea can exist separate from the essay it’s expressed in (and separate from the paper the essay is printed on). The soul is immaterial, in other words. Phooey!

What about all the things that help YOU understand ME? space between words, paragraphs, fonts style, font size, language, black on white is easier to read than light on dark, etc? All of this points to the “fact” that 1) I can’t FIND my thought (or CREATE it) without form and substance. 2) You can’t understand my thought without form and substance. Without messy slippery dirty chunks of material (or thin slices), or electrons.

The tools for thought are just getting lighter: rocks inscribed, clay tablets, animal skins (vellum), tree pulp (paper), computer punch cards, now electrons. More and more seemingly ethereal.

Or… it’s interesting that just when we THINK we can separate content from form we find out that we never could, never can. Actually, I don’t know what this reality proves. I just like the way it’s an analogia entis to the biblical view (well, the more traditional Hebraic (non Hellenistic) view) that you can’t have a human without a specific body AND you can’t have a human without a specific soul. Both. Together. Soul-body. Body-soul. Ain’t no separation.

But we like to perceive a separation, probably because we have such powerful imaginations and such powerful technology. The more ethereal (and ephemeral!) our “writing” gets, the more we see that “writing” as having a personhood,  a life of its own. “I am the Edison phonograph,” said the advertisements in 1906.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Long day tomorrow.

new idea for ENG 595 paper

NEW IDEA:

From L.E. : “Marilyn Cooper and Cindy Selfe published an essay on this.  Lester Faigley addresses this question in Fragments of Rationality, though interestingly he doesn’t know how to evaluate student online talk–just thinks it’s good that it happens.  And there is more recent research, though right now I can’t think of this.”

Handa, Carolyn, ed. Computers and Community: Teaching Composition in the Twenty-First Century. Portsmouth, N.H.: Boynton/Cook, 1990. (Bedford Bib 675) (this is probably the collection that includes the Cooper / Selfe article)

Nine essays, five on teaching and four on theory, describe and explore the changes to pedagogy and classroom structure wrought by computerized classrooms: enhanced collaboration, a stonger sense of community and audience, less focus on the teacher as reader, more fun with writing. Essays include Thomas Barker and Fred Kemp, “Network Theory: A Postmodern Pedagogy for the Writing Classroom”; Carolyn Boiarsky, “Computers in the Classroom: The Instruction, the Mess, the Noise, the Writing”; Kathleen Skubikowski and John Elder, “Computers and the Social Contexts of Writing”; Mary Flores, “Computer Conferencing: Composing a Feminist Community of Writers”; and Carolyn Handa, “Politics, Ideology, and Strange, Slow Death of the Isolated Composer or Why We Need Community in the Writing Classroom.”

http://wac.colostate.edu/aw/articles/whithaus2002/giving1.htm

Marilyn Cooper and Cynthia Selfe (1990) have observed that as teachers we all too often “simply assume that students come to college eager to give up their ‘uneducated’ ways in order to become scholars like us” (p. 850). This initiation model-that is, students are introduced to academic discourse in first-year composition-is encouraged by “the traditional forums in our classes,” where “the traditional hegemony of teacher-student relationships” is “supported by the evaluative power of grades and the ideology of the educational institution” (p. 850). Cooper and Selfe are troubled by the fact that the teacher-student relationship fostered through traditional face-to-face classrooms and the ever present evaluative power of grades guarantees “that most of our students respond as we ask them to” (p. 850). That is, the methods of using writing to learn as well as the criteria for evaluating the writing and learning are controlled not by the potentially collaborative computer-based writing technologies that have become available to us but rather by the institutional structure and needs of standardized higher education. While teachers working in computer-mediated writing environments incorporate collaborative learning methods in their pedagogies (e.g., Carol Winkelmann, 1995), the criteria for evaluation remain the property of the classroom teacher.

From the Bedford Bibliography:

Faigley, Lester. Fragments of Rationality. Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1992. PE1404 .F35 1992 Available Valley

The postmodern era is characterized by randomness of experience, unopposed by any transcendent terms, a randomness that terrifies with the prospect of total dissolution while exhilarating with the possibility of free play of identities and social locations—that is, of subject positions. Composition pedagogy is often unresponsive to postmodernity, continuing to assume that unitary selves compose purposeful, linearly structured, generically recognizable texts. While this focus is often promoted by academic institutions as serving the practical ends of efficient communication, composition scholars increasingly resist it as oppressive to diverse students. A more postmodern composition study entails looking at how discourses, and the unequal power relations among them, are historically produced. Yet the field is still reluctant to abandon a unitary notion of students’ subjectivities. The field needs the kind of destabilized, decentered view that characterizes the networked classroom, where online discussion allows free play with different personae and even “forbidden” discourses (e.g., homophobic, racist, sexist). The problem that remains is how to establish an ethics of engagement for social action against the oppressive economic and discursive structures that postmodern analysis purports to reveal. Winner of CCCC Outstanding Book Award for 1994.

Hawisher, Gail E., Paul LeBlanc, Charles Moran, and Cynthia L. Selfe. Computers and the Teaching of Writing in American Higher Education, 1979–1994: A History. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex, 1996.

Computers and composition has become a coherent subfield within composition studies, growing from early experimental beginnings. Its development is chronicled in five chapters: 1979–1982, focusing on how personal computers were integrated into writing instruction; 1983–1985, described as the period of greatest enthusiasm for computer use; 1986–1988, when computers and composition emerged as a field; 1989–1991, when revisionist critiques of computer use began to appear; and 1992–1994, exploring the sudden impact of the Internet and commercially viable multimedia. Each chapter situates the field of computers and composition within a time period’s developments in both composition studies and computer technology; notes then-current trends in the field; and links the field’s issues with contemporary social and political developments. All but the first chapter also include interviews with key figures, both pioneers and emerging
leaders. (Bedford Bib #64)

Hawisher, Gail E., and Cynthia L. Selfe, eds. Passions, Pedagogies, and 21st Century Technologies. Logan: Utah State Univ. Press and NCTE, 1999.

This substantial collection addresses issues of information technologies and the technocultural contexts facing those in the English profession. Each of the four parts contains a response essay. Essays include Doug Hesse, “Saving a Place for Essayistic Literacy”; Gunther Kress, ” ‘English’ at the Crossroads: Rethinking Curricula of Communication in the Context of the Turn to the Visual”; Lester Faigley, “Beyond Imagination: The Internet and Global Digital Literacy”; Marilyn Cooper, “Postmodern Pedagogy in Electronic Conversations”; Charles Moran, “Access: The A Word in Technology Studies”; James Porter, “Liberal Individualism and Internet Policy: A Communitarian Critique”; Gail E. Hawisher and Patricia A. Sullivan, “Fleeting Images: Women Visually Writing the Web”; Cynthia L. Selfe, “Lest We Think the Revolution Is a Revolution: Images of Technology and the Nature of Change”; Anne Frances Wysocki and Johndan Johnson-Eilola, “Blinded by the Letter: Why Are We Using Literacy as a Metaphor for Everything Else?”; and Janet Carey Eldred, “Technology’s Strange, Familiar Voices.” (Bedford Bib #678)

Johnson-Eilola, Johndan, and Stuart A. Selber. “Policing Ourselves: Defining the Boundaries of Appropriate Discussion in Online Forums.” Computers and Composition 13 (1996): 269–91.

Computers and writing specialists need to consider the mechanisms of language and how discourses “write us.” For example, as individuals operate in online forums, they internalize certain discourse laws and then “police” themselves and others. An analysis of one public, nonacademic listserv for technical writers, TECHWR-L, demonstrates the regulating mechanisms that function in online forums and the consequences of violating them. Common messages were strictly on-topic and followed accepted practices, for example, that participants should make their presence known. When threads developed that transgressed the boundaries of conventional discourse in technical communication—such as discussions of racism and sexism—subscribers posted complaints and commands to get back on topic, or they enacted the silent treatment. The authors analyze the debate over appropriate topics and recommend that students learn to recognize discourse regulations.

Selfe, Cynthia. Technology and Literacy in the Twenty-First Century: The Importance of Paying Attention. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1999.

The national project to expand technological literacy supports and exacerbates inequities within our culture and the public education system. The Technology Literacy Challenge, a federal literacy project begun in 1996, provides a case study of the failure of such an initiative when it does not address the uneven distribution of technologies along the lines of race and socioeconomic status and the continuing reproduction of both illiteracy and poverty. Government initiatives, educators, businesses, parents, and ideology all play a role in creating a potent configuration for technological literacy that feeds Americans’ belief that science + technology = progress, and that disguises the fact that technology is not available to everyone. Discounting the importance of multiple literacies and presenting either/or versions of technology, the dominant brand of technological literacy is defined as “competence with computers” rather than as a complex set of values, practices, and skills. The tendency to construct computers as either bane or boon encourages people to ignore the complicated relationships between technology and literacy, or to assume that the social and financial costs of technological literacy are inevitable. Humanist educators and literacy professionals should work on the local level to construct a larger vision of these issues; then intervene in the national project of expansion; and finally advocate critical technological literacy, which analyzes the technology-literacy link at fundamental levels of both conception and social practice.

Yagelski, Robert P. and Jeffrey T. Grabill, “Computer-Mediated Communication in the Undergraduate Writing Classroom: A Study of the Relationship of Online Discourse and Classroom Discourse in Two Writing Classes.” Computers and Composition 15 (1998): 11–40.

Online discourse in educational settings is characterized by complex relationships, more complicated than the findings of previous studies on the use of computer-mediated communication (CMC). Benefits are cited routinely in studies of CMC, but little attention has been paid to the ways in which online discussions and conventional in-class discourse may relate to and influence each other. Qualitative and quantitative techniques were employed to collect a variety of data related to the in-class and online discourse of two undergraduate writing courses at Purdue University: field notes of class meetings, interviews, surveys, and monitoring online discussions. Results of content coding were tabulated and then put into context through qualitative analyses. Findings indicated that how instructors set up, assigned, and managed the CMC components seemed to play a key role in shaping students’ online participation, also a function of the perceptions about and experiences with CMC in general. Without models of online discussions, for example, students focused on issues that rarely surfaced in class; in addition, students as students reproduced in online discussions “normal” in-class discourse. Simply putting students online does not necessarily increases their rates of participation, change the nature of that participation, or provide a more egalitarian space.

OLD IDEA:

Campbell, H. (2006). Religion and the Internet. Communication Research Trends, 26 (1), 3-24. ILL’d 1-19-09

Campbell, H. (2004). Challenges created by online religious networks. Journal of Media and Religion, 3 (2), 81-99. ILL’d 1-19-09

This article considers the challenges that online religious communities raise for religious culture. A survey of cultural changes in media, community, and religion uncovers similar structural shifts, from hierarchical structures to more open, dynamic relationship patterns in society. Examining this shift helps explain why cyber-religion and online religious communities have become emergent phenomenon. Emphasis is placed on the argument that the Internet has thrived because it has surfaced in a cultural landscape that promotes fluid yet controlled relationships over tightly bound hierarchies. Religious online communities are expressions of these changes and challenge traditional religious definitions of community. Especially problematic is the image of community as a network of relations. This article also addresses common concerns and fears of religious critics related to online communities through an analysis of current literature on these issues, along with a synthesis of research studies relating to the social use and consequences of the Internet.

Cowan, D, and J. Hadden (Eds.), Religion on the Internet: Research Prospects and Promises (pp. 25-54). New York: JAI Press. ILL’d 1-19-09

Dawson, Lorne, and D. Cowan (Eds.), Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2004. ILL’d 1-19-09

Ess, C. (Ed.). (2004). Critical Thinking and the Bible in the Age of New Media. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America. ILL’d 1-19-09. Got message saying it’s not available through Summit and to ILL it. [?}. Re-ILL’d 1-24-09

Hojsgaard, M. & M. Warburg (Eds.), Religion and Cyberspace (pp. 67-85). London: Routledge. AVAIL VALLEY: BL37 .R44 2005
Barker, E. (2005). Crossing the boundary: New challenges to religious authority and control as a consequence of access to the Internet. In M. Hojsgaard & M. Warburg (Eds.), Religion and Cyberspace (pp. 67-85). London: Routledge. (SEE ABOVE)

Schultze, Quentin J. Christianity and the mass media in America : toward a democratic accommodation. ILL’d 1-19-09

beginning working bibliography for Lit Tech Culture paper

Working Bibliography and Stuff-to-Get for Lit,Tech,Culture paper:

Campbell, H. (2006). Religion and the Internet. Communication Research Trends, 26 (1), 3-24. ILL’d 1-19-09

Campbell, H. (2004). Challenges created by online religious networks. Journal of Media and Religion, 3 (2), 81-99. ILL’d 1-19-09

This article considers the challenges that online religious communities raise for religious culture. A survey of cultural changes in media, community, and religion uncovers similar structural shifts, from hierarchical structures to more open, dynamic relationship patterns in society. Examining this shift helps explain why cyber-religion and online religious communities have become emergent phenomenon. Emphasis is placed on the argument that the Internet has thrived because it has surfaced in a cultural landscape that promotes fluid yet controlled relationships over tightly bound hierarchies. Religious online communities are expressions of these changes and challenge traditional religious definitions of community. Especially problematic is the image of community as a network of relations. This article also addresses common concerns and fears of religious critics related to online communities through an analysis of current literature on these issues, along with a synthesis of research studies relating to the social use and consequences of the Internet.

Cowan, D, and J. Hadden (Eds.), Religion on the Internet: Research Prospects and Promises (pp. 25-54). New York: JAI Press. ILL’d 1-19-09

Dawson, Lorne, and D. Cowan (Eds.), Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2004. ILL’d 1-19-09

Ess, C. (Ed.). (2004). Critical Thinking and the Bible in the Age of New Media. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America. ILL’d 1-19-09. Got message saying it’s not available through Summit and to ILL it. [?}

Hojsgaard, M. & M. Warburg (Eds.), Religion and Cyberspace (pp. 67-85). London: Routledge. AVAIL VALLEY: BL37 .R44 2005
Barker, E. (2005). Crossing the boundary: New challenges to religious authority and control as a consequence of access to the Internet. In M. Hojsgaard & M. Warburg (Eds.), Religion and Cyberspace (pp. 67-85). London: Routledge. (SEE ABOVE)

Schultze, Quentin J. Christianity and the mass media in America : toward a democratic accommodation. ILL’d 1-19-09

Abstract: The mass media and religious groups in America regularly argue about news bias, sex and violence on television, movie censorship, advertiser boycotts, broadcast and film content rating systems, government regulation of the media, the role of mass evangelism in a democracy, and many other issues. In the United States the major disputes between religion and the media usually have involved Christian churches or parachurch ministries, on the one hand, and so-called secular media, on the other. Often the Christian Right locks horns with supposedly liberal Eastern media elite and Hollywood entertainment companies. When a major Protestant denomination calls for an economic boycott of Disney, the resulting news reports suggest business as usual in the tensions between faith groups and media empires. Schultze demonstrates how religion and the media in America have borrowed each other’s rhetoric. In the process, they have also helped to keep each other honest, pointing out respective foibles and pretensions. Christian media have offered the public as well as religious tribes some of the best media criticism – better than most of the media criticism produced by mainstream media themselves. Meanwhile, mainstream media have rightly taken particular churches to task for misdeeds as well as offered some surprisingly good depictions of religious life. The tension between Christian groups and the media in America ultimately is a good thing that can serve the interest of democratic life. As Alexis de Tocqueville discovered in the 1830s, American Christianity can foster the “habits of the heart” that ward off the antisocial acids of radical individualism. And, as John Dewey argued a century later, the media offer some of our best hopes for maintaining a public life in the face of the religious tribalism that can erode democracy from within. Mainstream media and Christianity will always be at odds in a democracy. That is exactly the way it should be for the good of each one.

“Books are tragically isolating.”

Found another example of “reverse rhetoric” to add to my collection.  This is Steve Johnson, from Everything Bad for You is Good: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter (2005), as quoted in Lindquist and Seitz, The Elements of Literacy (2009), 212-213.  Johnson imagines what commentators would be saying, had video games been in use before books.

Reading books chronically understimulates the senses. Unlike the longstanding tradition of gameplaying — which engages the child in a vivid, three-dimensional world filled with moving images and musical sound-scapes, navigated and controlled with complex muscular movements — books are simply a barren string of words on the page. […]

Books are tragically isolating. While games have for many years engaged the young in complex social relationships with their peers, building and exploring worlds together, books force the child to sequester him or herself in a quiet space, shut off from interaction with other children. […]

But perhaps the most dangerous property of these books is the fact that they follow a fixed linear path. You can’t control their narratives in any fashion: you simply sit back and have the story dictated to you. […] This risks instilling a general passivity in our children, making them feel as though they’re powerless to change their circumstances. Reading is not an active, participatory process; it’s a submissive one. The book readers of the younger generation are learning to “follow the plot” instead of learning to lead.

I had googled the phrase “Books are tragically isolating” to see if I could find the text somewhere so that I didn’t have to type it all myself. And I ended up seeing several examples of people arguing that books, in fact, are not “tragically isolating.” I thought that was interesting, in that Johnson doesn’t use this reverse rhetoric, this thought experiment literally, in order to actually make this argument, but to show the assumptions we often fall into when we react to what is new and/or different.

“Literacy as grace” — Reba McEntire’s “Is There Life Out There”

Long time no post, I know. I’ve been busy getting my WR 121 class going (took me forever to finally decide on the readings! — more on that later), etc, etc.

Saw this video on a “Top 100 Country Music videos” thing last night — Reba McEntire’s “Is There Life Out There?” It brings tears to my eyes. And makes me want to say, “Yay for community colleges!” (though a returning student could of course go to a four-year school).

But it also reminds me of Sylvia Scribner’s discussion of the three main metaphors used to define/describe literacy (which came up in our reading for ENG 595 Language, Technology, and Culture this week). Like the movie Educating Rita (1983, I think), this video is an example of academic literacy being defined with the metaphor “grace” as opposed to “adaptation” and/or “power.”  By “grace,” Scribner doesn’t necessarily mean anything religious (though she’s thinking a little of that). It mainly means that literacy makes the person more humane, that literacy enhances — in some spiritual or simply cultural or personal way — the person (see her “Literacy in Three Metaphors“).  I like the word “rich,” in this context — literacy as something that makes life richer (spiritually, personally). So, in Educating Rita and in this video, both women don’t earn more money or become more economically better-off, but they do become more fulfilled (whatever that term means) and more happy.

But that way of thinking about literacy is the one that is usually the most compelling to me. I keep going to school, getting degrees, loving it — but not making much money!! I am compelled also by the literacy “as power” and as “adaptation” metaphors — but I almost always assume the “literacy as grace” thing is going on in the person’s life, too.

Anyway, when watching the video, you have to keep in mind that it was made in ’91, or you’ll wonder 1) why she’s writing her paper on a typewriter and 2) why she doesn’t just re-print it when her kids spill cover on her paper. I was using a word-processor in ’91, but I guess the video wouldn’t have had half the pathos without that scene, that turning point.

Rats, I’m getting the “Embedding disabled by request” message when I try to play the video. Oh well. Here’s the link instead.

Lindquist and Seitz’s The Elements of Literacy (1-21), Scribner’s three metaphors for literacy

A rambling response to Lindquist and Seitz’s The Elements of Literacy (1-21)

Every time I read of Sylvia Scribner’s three metaphors for literacy, I find myself relating primarily (almost exclusively?) to the “literacy as state of grace” metaphor – not because I’m a religious person (though I suppose that’s part of it), but because that “grace” has been my experience with literacy. I experience literacy as something that makes me simply enjoy life more, as something that makes me savor my thoughts as well as the thoughts of others, as something that I feel is making me a richer person.

And this time reading about the three metaphors was no different – I had the same response. But this time I also began to think more about why. I fully recognize how the other definitions – of literacy as power and as adaptation – work and are true (to their limited extent). But I think I’m realizing how those factors, how the way in which literacy as adaptation and as power, have been true for me, so to speak, but how I have been mostly unaware of them. No, that’s not quite it either. It’s 1) how perhaps other socioeconomic forces in my  life have “taken care of” those other needs (for adaptation and for power) in my life (e.g., financial support from parents and partners), and 2) how therefore I have been much less aware of the ways in which literacy has aided me (with adaptation and power). Or I have underestimated the ways in which literacy has helped me in those ways.

More specifically, I am a middle-aged woman with almost two masters degrees who has rarely in her working life made above $20,000 a year. For about eight years (in the late 1980s / early 1990s), I did make almost $40,000, but that’s only about one-fourth or one-third of my working life. And that was a case of literacy making direct profit — I was a production supervisor and then a product development specialist at a pre-press graphics company. The other times, I was able to continue to be a student/TA or work at a fairly-low salary at a Writing Center and meanwhile be financially-supplemented by parents and then by my partner. So I’m just thinking about how literacy has been to me probably just as much about “adaptation,” “power,” and “grace,” but that the latter, the third, has been the only I’ve been able to focus on, to enjoy, while the other two went unnoticed.

But then it’s interesting that that phenomenon – that being unaware of one’s socioeconomic support, it becoming invisible – is such a common experience, common phenomenon, and that it is exactly one of the reasons we need to focus on, to examine material practices and let those practices shows us what’s really going on, socioeconomically and perceptually in people’s literacy lives.

I also found Lindquist and Seitz’s discussion of the various spatial locations of literacy very helpful, especially in the way in which each helps provide insights about literacy but also obscures things.  I should’ve been so surprised (and I was — a bit) at the way President Bush oversimplified literacy (as a quantifiable and scientific phenomenon). But Lindquist and Seitz’s comparison of literacy as just as much a slippery word to define as love – was helpful, too, in that it was a reminder that there is a tendency to want to wrestle difficult abstract concepts or issues to ground in order to make them more manageable. And that that impulse is – I hate to wax psychological here, but – that that impulse is one of those human self-deluding mechanism (if that makes sense). It’s one of those things we do – over-simplify things – very often without even realizing we’re doing it AND with the sanction of society to do it (if THAT makes sense). I guess I’m thinking here about how some cultural _____ are or become self-perpetuating. We were talking in Literature and Pedagogy class this morning about how the literary canon re-produces itself, has this ability to continually recreate and perpetuate itself. And I wonder if oversimplification of complex societal problems is also a kind of self-perpetuating thing.

Whatever the reason (and I do like to get into underlying reasons – why, why, why), it’s helpful to me to simply be aware that oversimplification of literacy (and other complex, un-pin-down-able concepts) is easy to do and will continue to happen. It’s the kind of phenomenon to work against all the time.  With me, in this latest case, it was the assumption that “literacy as grace” was the my primary experience with literacy. And it still is my primary CONSCIOUS experience with literacy; it’s still the experience of literacy that I primarily value. But I also realize more how much the other factors / definitions play a part.

If we could all just be aware of what we’re not paying attention to… ;)