Illiterate Sorrows: Misrepresenting Literacy and Intelligence.Report as inadecuate




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Representations of illiteracy in bureaucratic, journalistic, and literary treatments of southern Appalachia reveal a substantial practice by metropolitans of blaming illiteracy in the region for its supposed failure to integrate materially and culturally into a national economy. Yet patterns of illiteracy in southern Appalachia resemble patterns elsewhere in the United States. Around the turn of the century, however, the difference between southern Appalachia and the rest of the nation was emphatically marked by recurring narratives about the region's extraordinary rate of illiteracy. The massive anti-illiteracy campaigns that states like Kentucky staged created an opportunity for underpaid and disrespected schoolteachers to demonstrate professional expertise far beyond what they could exhibit in the privacy of their classrooms. An examination of professional discourses on illiteracy in the southern New Jersey "Pine Barrens" evolved into something different from that of Appalachia. In 1826 a missionary report refers to men and women unable to read and therefore unable to attain Christian salvation through studying holy scripture. By 1844, however, widespread family illiteracy is reported--there is "very little if any taste for reading" among inhabitants. New Jersey natives from John McPhee to Edmund Wilson have assayed the Pines and not missed the opportunity to echo the discourse of illiteracy in their constructions of that place as a world apart. Is it possible that professional educators remain dependent on illiteracy--or rather localized figures of illiteracy--to create the very places and spaces where their work can be advanced? (Contains 10 references.) (NKA)

Descriptors: Cultural Context, Differences, Discourse Communities, Educational History, Illiteracy, Literacy, Popular Culture, Regional Characteristics











Author: Mortensen, Peter

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=11043&id=ED402588



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