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.