The purpose of this research is to examine the concept of literacy. The plan of the research will be to set forth a working definition of literacy and its importance to modern culture and then to discuss the role of literacy in determining the place and role that individuals and groups find in the social, economic, and cultural environment.
Literacy is the ability to read and write. The extent to which one can accomplish these tasks skillfully is an important ingredient of success in a number of venues in American society. Literacy skills--or lack of them--can contribute to success or failure for a whole range of subpopulations in America. There is compelling evidence that in certain social classes and communities throughout the United States the social values that inform the manner of use and choice of written texts influence educational, economic, and social opportunities.
Undoubtedly, as Kutz and Roskelly state, language "allows humans to extrapolate from experience, to interpret it, and the way language orders our experience is our process of thinking" (36). Also, they note that language and thought development "can't be separated from the social/communicative context in which it occurs" (Kutz and Roskelly 43). McCormick, Waller, and Flower touch on the complexity of context in their discussion of the interconnection between language, literature, history, and culture. Their main point is that ideology is a part of the language and that it affects the way literature and history are read and perceived (51-3). A larger point is that ideology is controlled by a dominant culture. Where language use is concerned, this has meant a conception of "achievement and excellence in terms of the acquisition of a historically validated body of knowledge, an authoritative list of books and allusions, a canon" (Rose 233). This reading canon, of course, derives from dominant-culture ideology and history.
In recent years the canon has been ...