A is for ox: violence, electronic media, and the silencing of the written word

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Pantheon Books, Oct 1, 1994 - Education - 269 pages
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We are so used to platitudes intoning the value of reading and writing that we may have forgotten to ask what literacy really is. In A Is for Ox, Barry Sanders brilliantly shows how the answer to this question takes us to the heart of the twin crises of youth violence and illiteracy. By reminding us to understand reading and writing as cognitive and social acts, Sanders places the issue of literacy squarely where it belongs: at the center of contemporary social and cultural debate. A Is for Ox links reading and writing to the most fundamental aspects of our being: the construction of the self, personal identity, and society's capacity to elicit uncoerced consent to the social contract. A Is for Ox is an important and impassioned work that demonstrates why the failure of increasing numbers of young people to attain even minimum levels of literacy signals a catastrophe at the deepest levels of our culture. Illiteracy and the growing epidemic of youth violence are not finally problems of schooling and social deviance, Sanders argues, but signals of a lost connection between the human voice and a richly articulated social experience both within the family and outside it. This profoundly disturbing break, he shows, has been brought about by post-modern society's addiction to electronic images and sounds as a way of mediating experience and administering satisfaction. By tracing the long history of literacy in the West, Sanders demonstrates how the culture of electronic media is drastically and dangerously reshaping both cognitive development and social interaction. In the best tradition of humanist controversy - from Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Dewey to George Steiner and Ivan Illich -this deeply learned and humane work offers its readers essential intellectual and moral engagement with the technologies by which we choose to know one another and ourselves.

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Psyco-drivel. As a publish-or-perish professor, Sanders appears to have has done his best. Maybe his other work is better, but reading this work is like trying to move a dead mule with a shovel.



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Media Literacy
W. James Potter
No preview available - 2005
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About the author (1994)

Barry Sanders has recently retired as Professor of the History of Ideas from Pitzer College. He is the author of eleven books, including A Is For Ox and Sudden Glory. Barry and his wife currently divide their time between Pasadena, California, and Portland, Oregon. He currently holds a five-year appointment as Fulbright Senior Scholar.

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