4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
“How will developments in information technology affect political participation, for example, economic development, the quality of life or human communication? Will ‘IT ’ revolutionize current forms of organization and democratic participation, or will it merely reinforce existing power divisions? Are we entering a new age with new modes of thinking, new concepts of the self, new notions of what it is to be a ‘human being’?“
The book Literacy and Orality by Ruth Finnegan is a literary text that deals with the conception and evolution of two seminal cultural practices that are universally observed and celebrated: literacy and orality. It attempts to dismantle preconceived notions and dominant social assumptions about these vastly misunderstood cultural practices. It also attempts to understand the nature of “communication and its implications for human thought and action in a comparative and historical framework”. It also adds value to recent works of social anthropology and history, infusing heavily elements of first-hand field researched into the theories that the author has presented to the reader.
As a literature student, I feel like this is perhaps the most interesting text I have come across in quite a while. The eloquence and finesse with which the author presents such complicated ideas with simplicity is quite characteristic of this author (as I found out after I read more of her books). The topics that the author has talked about are certainly esoteric and not everyone’s cup of tea, but the way the author has talked about these ideas has made them palatable to the mainstream crowd. Any literature, social anthropology, or history enthusiast will fall in love with this book. I found it to be an absolutely irresistible read.
The subject matter of this text is evidently literacy and orality, two indispensable cultural practices that have invariably endured the test of time. The narrative begins with talking about the recent IT revolution and its inevitable implications on the existing hierarchies and modes of thinking. It also explores the philosophical underpinnings of such a revolution and what it can mean for humanity. From there it takes us to West Africa to better understand the subject matter. The simple question is this: “Are ‘oral’ peoples necessarily unreflective, simple or concrete in their thinking? “
While I certainly understand that this is an esoteric text and would appeal to a certain crowd, I strongly feel that this text deserves 4 out of 4 stars, for a number of reasons. The author has extensively researched before writing this text and has provided data to go with her theories. She has eloquently brought together different elements of history, literature, and social anthropology and created a unified, coherent, and wonderful text.
Literacy and orality
View: on Bookshelves
Like HouseOfAtticus's review? Post a comment saying so!