Competing Concepts of Literacy in Imperial Contexts

in Dido's Daughters

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780226243115
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226243184 | DOI:
Competing Concepts of Literacy in Imperial Contexts

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This chapter analyzes past and present definitions of literacy and the debates about its social value often embedded in those definitions. It explores some of the ways in which our views of early modern empires and their literacies are not only shaped by our own historical position but also deformed by inadequate reflection on some of the investments in empire that we share with some of our educated forebears. This chapter validates the hypothesis that literacy becomes an urgent definitional and political problem in geo-temporal contexts we can describe as imperial.

Keywords: literacy; social value; early modern empires; definitional problems; political problems

Chapter.  24288 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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