This book chronicles the development of electronic literacies through the stories of individuals with varying backgrounds and skills. Authors Cynthia L. Selfe and Gail E. Hawisher employ these stories to begin tracing technological literacy as it has emerged over the last few decades within the United States. They selected 20 case studies from the corpus of more than 350 people who participated in interviews or completed a technological literacy questionnaire during six years of their study. The book is organized into seven chapters that follow the 20 participants in their efforts to acquire varying degrees of technological literacy. Each chapter situates the participants' life-history accounts in the cultural ecology of the time, tracing major political, economic, social, and educational events, factors, and trends that may have influenced--and been influenced by--literacy practices and values. These literacy histories are richly sown with information that can help those in composition and writing studies situate the processes of acquiring the literacies of technology in specific cultural, material, educational, and familial contexts.
These case studies provide initial clues about combinations of factors that affect--and are affected by--technological literacy acquisition and development. The first-hand accounts presented here offer, in abundant detail, everyday literacy experiences that can help educators, parents, policymakers, and writing teachers respond to today's students in more informed ways.
"This book documents a critical period in the history of literacy. It is rife with glimpses into the transformations of reading and writing at the millennium. From the family sitting around a telephone jack playing Star Trek on an Air Force simulation computer to the third grader with an e-mail account, the authors show us the sometimes wacky and sometimes sobering 'technology gateways' that mark conditions of access to literacy in these times."
Department of English, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"The 'literate lives' we read about here are not set wholly within familiar sites for literacy, such as schools of libraries, nor do they derive entirely from formal learning. Instead, they reflect the lived experience of unique individuals, who weave their own versions of literacy through the pains and joys of everyday life. Telling their life stories around literate practices, they show how they construct a literate life on the substrates of race, class, and gender, and develop it in terms of their role in economic, technological, and political history.
Each unique life history in this book is a fascinating story by itself with elements as diverse as working on a committee, listening to music, playing video games, going to a prom, or protesting a war. The attention to these concrete details makes the cases come alive and shows not only the particular construction of a literate life, but the way it emerges out of ordinary experience. This attention to the particulars is in the final analysis what reveals the interconnectedness of the larger social forces and the distinctive way that these forces play out within the situated realities of life."
—Bertram (Chip) Bruce
Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois
"Selfe and Hawisher's Book provides an incredibly rich and detailed amount of information about the development and acquisition of literacy and digital literacies by individuals and the contexts that assisted or constrained their achievements…Their book challenges some of the long-held beliefs about the intersection between the acquisition of digital literacies and race, class, ethnicity, and gender and demonstrates a far more complex relationship that others have presented." --Katina Zammit, School of Education, University of Western Sydney, Australia, Journal of Literacy Research
Contents: G.E. Hawisher, C.L. Selfe, Introduction: Literate Lives in the Information Age. D.J. Davis, G.E. Hawisher, S.A. Osborne, C.L. Selfe, J.R. Van Wormer, Cultural Ecologies and the Literacies of Technology. P. Boyd, G.E. Hawisher, K. Lunsford, M. Sheridan-Rabideau, C.L. Selfe, Privileging--or Not--the Literacies of Technology. C.L. Selfe, G.E. Hawisher, D. Woodbeck, D. Walikainen, Complicating Access: Gateways to the Literacies of Technology. G.E. Hawisher, T.A. Lugo, M. Pearson, C.L. Selfe, Shaping Cultures: Prizing the Literacies of Technology. A.N. Brown, G.E. Hawisher, C.L. Selfe, Those Who Share: Three Generations of Black Women. J.P. Blakelock, J.M. Burges, G.E. Hawisher, C.L. Selfe, J.R. Walker, Inspiring Women: Social Movements and the Literacies of Technology. D. DeVoss, G.E. Hawisher, C. Jackson, J. Johansen, B. Moraski, C.L. Selfe, The Future of Literacy. C.L. Selfe, G.E. Hawisher, Conclusion: Stories From the United States in the Information Age. Appendix.