An important contribution to the multi-disciplinary study of literacy, narrative and culture, this work argues that literacy is perhaps best described as an ensemble of socially and historically embedded activities of cultural practices. It suggests viewing written language, producing and distributing, deciphering and interpreting signs, are closely related to other cultural practices such as narrative and painting.
The papers of the first and second parts illustrate this view in contexts that range from the pre-historical beginnings of tracking signs' in hunter-gatherer cultures, and the emergence of modern literate traditions in Europe in the 17th to 19th century, to the future of electronically mediated writing in times of the post-Gutenberg galaxy. The chapters of the third present results of recent research in developmental and educational psychology.
Contributions by leading experts in the field make the point that there is no theory and history of writing that does not presuppose a theory of culture and social development. At the same time, it demonstrates that every theory and history of culture must unavoidably entail a theory and history of writing and written culture.
This book brings together perspectives on literacy from psychology, linguistics, history and sociology of literature, philosophy, anthropology, and history of art. It addresses these issues in plain language – not coded in specialized jargon – and addresses a multi-disciplinary forum of scholars and students of literacy, narrative and culture.
Jens Brockmeier teaches at the Free University of Berlin. Since 1995 he has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto/OISE. He has published in the fields of psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and the history of culture.
Min Wang has a post-doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to work at the Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsburgh.
David R. Olson is University Professor at the University of Toronto/OISE. He is past-president of the Canadian Psychological Association and was co-director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. His research on cognition, language development, and literacy has resulted in numerous books.