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ERIC Number: ED336747
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Mar
Pages: 11
Abstractor: N/A
Personal Literacy Experience.
Knotts, Lester William
Literacy is inextricably linked to the social context in which literacy is taught, and in which the language is used. Cultural expectations require the use of specific literacies. Who a person is, in terms of a literacy user and a literacy worker are dictated by the culture in which a person chooses to operate. Literacy is not neutral, but an integral part of the society in which it exists, a social construct that may be mastered and used for specific social purposes. A look at the experiences of two generations of a family of working class black Americans shows how literacy can be status-giving, yet bring social ostracism. Literacies acquired from the classroom and from employment were the outcome of cultural transmission, which must occur for the communicator to be considered literate within the culture. Conflicts for a young Black man arose, however, when the literacy acquired in school or through life experience and travel was different from that of his peers, suspending his sense of belonging to that culture. He now wonders who he is, and who his children will be. These experiences attest to the fact that literacy does affect how people participate in their society; social context helps define specific literacies. Autonomous literacy, for example, would not generate the social ostracism experienced by a Black person who is uncomfortable conversing in the black vernacular. This social suspension is evidence that in practice, literacy is deeply embedded in culture. (PRA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (42nd, Boston, MA, March 21-23, 1991). Best available copy.