Writing across the Curriculum in Historical Perspective: Toward a Social Interpretation

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1990
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Russell, David
Russell, David
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English
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English
Abstract

Literacy instruction or the lack of it has a wide range of social consequencespolitical, economic, cultural. These consequences are most obvious when the members of some community are forbidden by law to learn to read-as, for example, blacks were in states of the antebellum South-in order to prevent them from raising their social standing and posing a political, economic, or cultural threat to the dominant community. More subtle but equally pervasive consequences stem from restrictions on advanced forms of literacy. In modern urbanindustrial society, less visible barriers to achieving advanced literacy also preserve the integrity and status of existing communities and limit access to coveted social roles. That process, however, like modern society itself, is much more complex than the crude legal bans on literacy common in agrarian societies.

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Published as Russell, David R. "Writing across the curriculum in historical perspective: Toward a social interpretation." College English52, no. 1 (1990): 52-73. Posted with permission.

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