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February 4, 2008

EL 336 - Muse - chp 5. cross cultural collisions

"Were they "savage" on the one hand, and yet "noble" on the other, possesers of an ethical simplicity, a direct feeling, which Europeans had lost? And, lurking behind these, questions, barely recognized, lay another question. Were they literatre or not literate? Could they read and write? If not, what comparative value does this negative fact place on writing, in the history of our species, what positive value on its absence?"

With the discovery of America and the colonizing of it in early times, writing and reading was already a staple for modern American society. It is interesting that people who did not have the ability to read and write were concsidered less valuable. They were even considered not normal humans. How would someone like Socrates say to that? Since you do not participate in what written and print is in the world, you do not count in it. I think it really does place a negative outlook on print culture.

Posted by RachelPrichard at February 4, 2008 12:31 AM


I think that being able to read and write was a mark of intelligence in those times. If you cound read and write, you could never be a lawyer or doctor or run a buisness. These "less intelligent" people were probably farmhands and servants. The literate were considered superior. The illiterate were not stupid-no one ever taught them how to read and write. If you were born into servitude, you would probably not have time to go to school as a young person because you would have to work. Seems a vicious cycle.

Posted by: Daniella Choynowski at February 4, 2008 7:06 PM

I think they were considered less intelligent because at the time, only the elite, the wealthy class, were educated. I feel that this is snobbery. Nobody gave the poor a chance to keep up with the growing times of education, the liberal arts.

Posted by: Jeremy Barrick at February 4, 2008 9:51 PM

I think I get what you're saying here, Rachel. Since those who were illiterate and could not write were looked upon negatively, that in turn made the print culture untouchable to the general public. As Daniella was saying, literacy was linked to intelligence, as well as wealth. Since literacy was unattainable to the masses the print culture put a chip in the public shoulder.

Posted by: Stormy Knight at February 4, 2008 10:16 PM

"It is interesting that people who did not have the ability to read and write were considered less valuable. They were even considered not normal humans. (RP)"

Good point, Rachel. Once print culture dominated European society, it completely altered their perception. They imposed print culture on the "uncivilized" peoples they found during their expansion because it was necessary in order for them to be able to fully assimilate those peoples and their cultures into the European empires.

Posted by: ChrisU at February 5, 2008 1:04 AM

I feel like this is just another example of the privileges that literacy can bring us in society. Early colonists had one great asset over the natives (besides guns and diseases) and that was literacy. Because colonists had the ability to read and write this also gave them the ability to teach and learn on a higher curve than the illiterate. We must also look at the fact that some of the indentured workers that came over to the early colonies may not have been literate either and hence their status in society. Reading was a huge status symbol which we previously discussed in the Di Renzo reading.

Posted by: Leslie Rodriguez at February 12, 2008 12:15 AM

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