UWP 270

 (4 units)

  1. Catalog Description

    Tracing the development of literacy practices and writing technologies from Ancient China, Mesopotamia, Greece and the Americas to current uses of blogs and wikis is a daunting task for a single quarter.  However, this UWP 298 aims to do just that.  We will discuss how the development of different scripts and types of texts intersect with educational, social and economic agendas.  Bringing a central focus on technologies to the historical and sociological ground covered by most history of the book and history of literacy courses, we will ask questions about how the material conditions of a text impact writers’ composing processes as well as the reception of these works.  These questions are not only historical—they press in upon literacy practices within and outside of schools today.  The value of this course then deals with understanding how the physical qualities of a text offer different affordances during the production and reception of a work.  Drawing on previous research in writing studies, education, linguistics and anthropology, we will create frameworks for students’ future research into the intersections of literacy practices, teaching methods and textual technologies.

  2. Sample projects for the course:
    • a study of how the switch from writing Turkish in Arabic script to a Latin-based alphabet (and other societal changes) impacted literacy rates in 20th-century Turkey
    • a study of learning outcomes when online images were used as writing prompts for student blog entries in a 12th-grade English class
    • a study of how the textual technologies of PowerPoint slides and hand-painted signs shaped a policy debate about public use lands in rural Virginia
    • a comparison of the linguistic and rhetorical features in Sojourner Truth’s orally-composed autobiography and Frederick Douglass’s written autobiography
  1. Books:
    • Walter Ong.. Orality and Literacy. 
    • Eric Havelock. The Muse Learns to Write.
    • John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid. The Social Life of Information.
    • Gunther Kress. Literacy in the New Media Age.
    • Oliver Sacks. Seeing Voices.
    • Maryanne Wolf. Proust and the Squid.