The Literate Mind: A Study of Its Scope and Limitations (Hardcover)
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Literacy is about 5,000 years old. Since it was invented it has transformed human societies and knowledge fundamentally. Indeed, civilisation is built on literacy. What is it about the process of making marks on paper or other surfaces that gives literacy this remarkable power?'The Literate Mind: A Study of Its Scope and Limitations' proposes that the evolved, pre-literate qualities of the human mind combined with the representational capacities of alphabets and other symbol systems provide uniquely powerful means for the generation and storage of knowledge. The creation, storage and sharing of texts augment the social and cognitive capacities of human minds and allow us to develop social institutions within which further new knowledge can be deployed and used. Taking an approach that is equally applicable to print and digital media, the book draws on evolutionary theory and the theory of computation to explain the remarkable power of literacy and its transformational effects on human society and knowledge. It demonstrates that the universe of possible texts is infinite in extent, and proposes that the combination of a reader and a text can be treated as an ecosystem of unlimited scope.
About the Author
ANDREW WELLS Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the London School of Economics' Institute of Social Psychology, UK.ANDREW WELLS Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the London School of Economics' Institute of Social Psychology, UK.
"In this fascinating and ground-breaking book, Andrew Wells brings together two dimensions of literacy that have previously been apart: the human, contextual side on the one hand, and the nature of literacy as a symbolic system on the other. Such fusion makes for a dynamic read - and one that will have implications for studies in ecology, systems theory, linguistic studies and language education alike." Richard Andrews, Institute of Education, University of London
''Andrew Wells' The Literate Mind is profoundly grounded in past research on literacy in its cognitive, social, and historical contexts and yet makes an astonishingly novel and accessibly erudite contribution to that literature. The Literate Mind truly moves the field forward.'' James Paul Gee, Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies, Arizona State University
'Two main kinds of books are published on the subject of literacy. There are practical, how-to-teach books, and there are thoughtful, 'what is this thing we are teaching?' books. Andrew Wells' book is very definitely one of the thoughtful ones, and an excellent contribution to the genre. The book makes innovative use of evolutionary theory and computational theory to examine the processes and practices of literacy. It is written in an engaging way which inducts the reader into complex bodies of theory and certainly fulfils its main aim– to make its readers think.' David Wray, Professor of Literacy Education, University of Warwick and Editor of Journal of Reading, Writing and Literacy