Michael's Reviews > The Violence of Literacy

The Violence of Literacy by J. Elspeth Stuckey
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Jun 03, 10

bookshelves: literacy-comps
Read in March, 2010

In The Violence of Literacy (1991), Elspeth J. Stuckey critiques notions of literacy as a common good by questioning the understanding of economics and justice on which those views are grounded. Literacy education, Stuckey argues, upholds a class system; it "is a regulation of access" (19) that only slightly shifts who gets access and who doesn't (20). Much of public discourse on literacy tends to value a classless society, which only further obfuscates issues of socioeconomic justice. Additionally, Stuckey argues that "literacy and economy are interdependent and . . . the basis of the economy is changing" (57); literacy appears to be the cause of opportunity, but it is not (58). Arguing that the literate rely on the exploitation of the illiterate, Stuckey claims that "the questions of literary are questions of oppression" (64). Indeed, literacy is and remains a way to separate and classify people (82). While this might lead us to wonder if literacy needs to be abandoned, Stuckey argues that it's not literacy that needs abandoned, but "What we need to abandon are literate practices that make unnatural and unfair the lives of human beings" (95). 
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