Literate Lives in the Information Age: Narratives of Literacy from the United States

Literate Lives in the Information Age: Narratives of Literacy from the United States

Literate Lives in the Information Age: Narratives of Literacy from the United States

Literate Lives in the Information Age: Narratives of Literacy from the United States

Synopsis

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 Contact Susan Barker at (201) 258-2282 for more information. 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.

Excerpt

Identity is constructed relationally through difference from the other; identification with a group based on gender, race or sexuality, for example, depends mostly on binary systems of “us” versus “them, ” where difference from the other defines the group to which one belongs. Conversely, identity also suggests sameness … some shared ground. (Susan Friedman, 1998, p. 19)

A good deal of what we do with language, throughout history, is create and act out different “types of people”—including multiple types of selves for ourselves—by putting words, deeds, values, other people, and things together in integral combinations for specific times and places. (James Gee, 1996, p. viii)

For some women in this study, especially those who came of age at times and in cultural ecologies that favored conventionally determined social roles, gender and the related timing of key technology developments played an important role in shaping the acquisition and development of electronic literacy. To understand more precisely why some women considered this combination of social and historical factors so influential, this chapter features the stories of three women—Paula Boyd, Mary SheridanRabideau, and Karen Lunsford—and underscores their birth dates in the late 1960s as a time of great social unrest in the United States and as the dawn of second-wave feminism.

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