The Violence of Literacy

Front Cover
Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1991 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 140 pages
This book counters most of our prevailing views about literacy. It says that literacy, rather than enfranchising people, is violent, ulterior, and uniquely devoted to Western economic ends. It claims that the literacy profession perpetuates injustice, whether it knows it or not.

This is a book for anyone who thinks that reading and writing are important to learning. In this respect, it's a book for everyone, but it's primarily for people on the hotseat - English teachers, especially composition/writing/rhetoric teachers, and teachers of dropouts and adults and minorities. The book addresses economics and social class, the political structure in which English teaching fits, the character of labor, the psychology or psychotherapy of literacy, and the future of social freedom in America.

This is an angry book written by an angry English teacher: The author is angry that literacy is the center of the storm; angry that the center of the storm foments nothing but itself; angry that most of what we do, even the good that we do, remains academic, powerless, and self-serving.

What solutions are offered? The author argues that literacy is not the solution. she argues that economics is the agenda, that the ability to read and write is less important than the ability to pay. The reality is that whose who set the agenda use literacy and literacy standards to maintain privilege and parcel disadvantage. The violence of literacy becomes, therefore, the customary domain of those who foresee no real change while foretelling it.

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About the author (1991)

J. Elspeth Stuckey currently runs the South Carolina Cross-Age Tutoring Project, a privately funded enterprise in S.C. rural schools. A native South Carolinian, she received her B.A. and M.A. from Winthrop college and later taught there and at Benedict College after receiving a Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Linguistics and Lliterature at the University of Southern California. She has also been a Fulbright professor at the University of Liberia in Monrovia and a member of the Faculty in Writing at the Bread Loaf School of English. In addition to teaching, she has received a Ford Foundation Grant and a Rockefeller Fellowship at the Duke/UNC Center for Research on Women.

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