Old Literacies and the “New” Literacy Studies: Revisiting Reading and Writing

Video “abstract” and paper that recently appeared in the open, online journal Seminar.net.

This paper traces a discontinuous and material history of “schooling,” writing and its technologies, rather than one that would be continuous and etymological or cultural in focus (i.e. going back, say, to Medieval Europe or ancient Greece).

The results, I think, are rather astonishing: Material and communicative practices that we associate with traditional schooling (e.g., frontal instruction, recitation, complex instructional sequences) reappear not over centuries but millenia.

This has significant implications for notions of school, (multi-)literacies and ways that literacy overall is understood. In addition to presenting examples from the discontinuous, material history of inscriptive practice (and its reproduction), this paper focuses on these consequences.    

Download a PDF of the complete paper.

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