Literacy and the Politics of Writing

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Intellect Books, 2000 - Writing - 188 pages
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A richly illustrated examination of the primary purpose of writing, relating the ability to put down information in a permanent form to the overall concept of literacy.

With the growth of information technology, this beautifully illustrated book re-examines the concept and purpose of writing, and questions the long cherished idea that the alphabet stands at the apex of a hierarchy towards which all 'proper' forms of writing must by necessity progress.

The author asserts that the primary purpose of writing lies in its ability to store and transmit information essential to the social, economic and political survival of a particular group. Writing, in whatever form, allows the individual to interact with the group, to acquire an amount of knowledge that far outweighs the scope of memory (oral traditions), and to be free to manipulate this knowledge and arrive at new conclusions.

Many theories that have so far been taken as proof rest merely on speculation. Writing has been looked at through the narrowed vision of specialists and needs to be examined from a different angle -- an angle that looks at writing not as an intellectual achievement that in itself furthered civilization, but as an essential part of the political infrastructure of a society.

Complete with more than 80 photographs and illustrative examples of writing through the ages, this book provides an attractive and straightforward entrance to the subject. It contains a network of references leading the reader towards further information, and most entries are enriched with bibliographical notes.

 

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Contents

Author Biography and Acknowledgements
Nonlinguistic forms of writing
The introduction of language elements
the infrastructure of palace and temple
The common origin of contemporary writing systems
The special place of certain writing systems
The political success of unsuitable writing systems
Script inventors and script inventions
Rewards and problems of decipherment
Calligraphy a corporate logo?
What is a book?
Printing the writing masters and the Internet
What is literacy?
Some final thoughts
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Gaur is Deputy Director at the British Library.

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