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Level: Undergraduate
Division: Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts
Department: Education Studies
Course Number: LEDU 4402
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: Yes
This course will explore the definitions, functions, and teaching of literacy across various cultural contexts and different time periods. We will examine how writing, reading, and oral language have been used as tools of inclusion and exclusion in civic processes, and how societies have become stratified around who reads, what they read, and in which language they read. Special attention will be paid to literacy practices in social and cultural contexts and to myths about the consequences of literacy for cognition, socio-economic mobility, “civilization,” and “progress.” This course will explore different theories about the deeper ideologies and purposes that ground literacy practices, particularly as they relate to formal spaces of education. As literacy is intricately bound with language, readings will also explore issues of language hierarchies, bilingual education, linguistic globalization, and efforts to preserve local oral traditions. We will also investigate literacy campaigns for building national unity and identity, efforts to validate “indigenous” literacies and histories, and reforms in urban schooling. Finally, we will study the international aid community’s recent push on literacy and reading, and how NGOs’ donations of books and libraries have been used as tools of diplomacy and development.
Course Open to: Majors Only


Open to Undergraduate students.


Open to Junior students.

Open to Fifth Year students.

Open to Senior students.