Producing Good Citizens: Literacy Training in Anxious Times - Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture (Paperback)Amy J. Wan (author)
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Early on, educators bore the brunt of literacy training, while also being charged with producing the right kind of citizens by imparting civic responsibility and a moral code for the workplace and society. Literacy quickly became the credential to gain legal, economic, and cultural status. In her study, Wan defines three distinct pedagogical spaces for literacy training during the 1910s and 1920s: Americanisation and citizenship programmes sponsored by the federal government, union-sponsored programmes and first year university writing programmes. Wan also demonstrates how each literacy programme had its own motivation: the federal government desired productive citizens, unions needed educated members to fight for labour reform, and university educators looked to aid social mobility.
Citing numerous literacy theorists, Wan analyses the correlation of reading and writing skills to larger currents within American society. She shows how early literacy training coincided with the demand for labourers during the rise of mass manufacturing, while also providing an avenue to economic opportunity for immigrants. This fostered a rhetorical link between citizenship, productivity and patriotism. Wan supplements her analysis with an examination of citizen training books, labour newspapers, factory manuals, policy documents, public deliberations on citizenship and literacy, and other materials from the period to reveal the goal and rationale behind each programme.
Wan relates the enduring bond of literacy and citizenship to current times, by demonstrating the use of literacy to mitigate economic inequality, and its lasting value to a productivity-based society. Today, as in the past, educators continue to serve as an integral part of the literacy training and citizen-making process.
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Number of pages: 216
Weight: 363 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
--Bruce Horner, University of Louisville
"A first-rate work. The topic is timely and Amy J. Wan makes a genuine contribution to composition and writing studies by complicating ideas of citizenship that are floating around the field (the 'ambient awareness' that she notes). Wan has a big and important set of questions that motivates the specificity of her empirical studies."
--John Trimbur, Emerson College
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