Re: [xmca] FW: NCTEAR

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Sun Jan 28 2007 - 11:03:03 PST

I think you have been very generous with your time, Peter.
Your informative note put me in mind of the Machado/Friere volume on reading
the word and reading the world.
In this case, "reading" is close to the more general notion of
"interpreting." I expect that the multiple meanings
will not go away and will in general be clarified by the context.

Now if only I could properly read those TIVO instructions so that I could
combine TIVO and certain channels it does not
want to record!! Its tough been technologically illiterate! :-)


ps-- your forwards are a great way to stay in touch, especially when we get
reports back from folks who attend. I hope that you
have forwarded the prior not to kevin if he is not lurking out there

On 1/28/07, Peter Smagorinsky <> wrote:
> Mike, I guess that asking me a direct question is one way to get me to
> contribute to these discussions. Sorry I've mostly lurked of late--it's
> one
> of those years.
> The question "What is literacy?" came up in a doctoral seminar I'm
> teaching
> on research in composition this semester. One of the students brought in
> something from Gunther Kress (a literacy-oriented semiotics guy) in which
> he
> argues that literacy ought only to be applied to the ability to read or
> produce letter-oriented codes. Kress has also been part of the New London
> Group, famed for its paper on Multiliteracies, a construct that accounts
> for
> "new" literacies largely following from recent technologies--the images,
> sounds, etc. involved in internet communication.
> For what it's worth, I just checked my dictionary and got the following
> for
> "literacy":
> Function:noun
> Date:1883
> : the quality or state of being literate
> It's interesting that they date the term to 1883; was there no such
> concept
> in English before then?
> I then checked "literate":
> Etymology:Middle English literat, from Latin litteratus marked with
> letters,
> literate, from litterae letters, literature, from plural of littera
> Date:15th century
> 1 a : EDUCATED, CULTURED b : able to read and write
> 2 a : versed in literature or creative writing : LITERARY b : LUCID,
> POLISHED *a literate essay* c : having knowledge or competence
> *computer-literate* *politically literate*
> So, the term's root helps define the term as one concerned with letters.
> And
> images were available at the time as well. I'm currently writing a
> handbook
> chapter in which I use the following about Paris's Cathedral of
> Notre-Dame:
> In the sixth century Pope Gregory the Great proposed that the scriptures
> be
> depicted on the walls of churches for the benefit of the largely
> unlettered
> Christian flock. In the city of Arras in northern France in 1025,
> religious
> leaders revived this proposal, believing that it might enable "illiterate
> people to learn what books cannot teach them" (Gies & Gies, 1994, p. 130).
> During the Middle Ages sculpture was the most esteemed artistic medium,
> one
> of the few that could be admired and understood by both aristocrats and
> uneducated peasants. Many European churches began to provide
> comprehensive
> theological lessons carved in stone, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame among
> them.
> Because it depicted the Biblical narrative in sculpture and other art
> forms
> so that it could be read by the masses, the church was variously known as
> the Sermon in Stone and the Bible of the Poor.
> So, this idea of "reading" images is not so new after all--it's been
> around
> for at least 1000 years, and in texts that were central to the lives of
> the
> people of the time.
> All this brings me no closer to answering your question than I was before
> I
> started. I'm among those who've talked about literacy as part of
> images--not
> so much through computer images but in "reading" drawings in architecture,
> interior design, and horse ranch design; and in interpreting literature
> through art. (if anyone's interested in the references, they're listed at
>; I've got pdf files of most
> of them.) According to Kress (at least in the reference my student
> provided), doing so is off the mark.
> Peter
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Mike Cole
> Sent: Sunday, January 28, 2007 12:02 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Cc: mca; jobs; reviewers; langandlit
> Subject: Re: [xmca] FW: NCTEAR
> Hi Peter-- Now if only I retired and could go to all these interesting
> conferences!! Thanks for the post.
> Kevin has from time to time been around xmca and perhaps you or he or
> someone would comment on the proliferation of the uses of the term,
> literacy. I have dabbled in such extrensions in a timid way in an earlier
> paper on the concept of literacy in print and film.
> And, of course, I live immersed in the discussions of computer literacy.
> Nor
> can I avoid the multitude of "literacies" that have gone in and out of
> vogue
> in recent decades: emotional literacy, cultural literacy, multi-cultural
> literacy, information-seeking literacy, visual literacy, music literacy
> ..............
> Sometimes it seems to me that sometimes the term, literacy, is a simple
> substitute for "knowledge of." At other times special systems of codes are
> involved (so my co-author and argued vis a vis film literacy and I would
> argue for some other uses of the term, but not all). The title of the
> conference sharply accentuates this issue.-- living literacies of the body
> and image.
> What, indeed, counts as literacy. What does count mean in this case?
> 1,2,3,4,.......!! Which ideas re literacy are we for?
> Maybe the conference organizers could stream the major talks so we could
> all
> have a chance to learn? As it is, this Brer rabbit will be holed up
> teaching
> and preparing classes when not seeking to promote (dare I sway it!) the
> literacy of children who are being set up to be non-union peripheral
> workers
> in local service industries.
> mike
> On 1/28/07, Peter Smagorinsky <> wrote:
> >
> > Dear Colleagues,
> >
> > The NCTEAR website has been updated and all information is now
> > available for the upcoming Mid-Winter NCTEAR Conference!
> >
> >
> >
> > Conference Theme:? What Counts As Literacy? Living Literacies of the
> > Body and Image
> >
> > Date and Location:? February 23-25, Peabody College of Vanderbilt
> > University
> >
> > Please visit the site for information about speakers, registration,
> > and housing.? In addition to featuring an exciting schedule of?keynote
> > addresses workshop presentations, and roundtables, this year's
> > conference will include interactive lunchtime sessions with featured
> > researchers.? To add to your conference experience, we have scheduled
> > a Saturday night music event at the Bluebird Cafe, a Nashville
> > tradition with a worldwide reputation for showcasing some of the world's
> greatest acoustic and country shows!?
> > Registration for "Music at the Bluebird" is available at the website.
> >
> > ?** Advanced registration ends on January 30th, so please register now!?
> > Visit the website for registration information.? After January 30th,
> > registration will be onsite at Joe B. Wyatt Center, Peabody College,
> > Vanderbilt University.
> >
> > Attached is an flier with more information about the conference theme
> > and speakers.
> >
> > We look forward to seeing you in Nashville!
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Cynthia Lewis and Kevin Leander
> >
> > Co-Chairs, NCTEAR
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
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