Although we practice literacy on a constant, recurring basis (I am doing it now. You are too.), we generally neglect a serious investigation of it. Literacy is tacitly assumed for (and practiced by) the intended audience of this course description. Illiteracy is cast as a problem that is remote from a world class American university—the problem of the "third world"—and its far-reaching politics and its proximity to our everyday lives are ignored. This course contemplates "literacy" with its manifold definitions and metaphorical analogues (e.g. "computer literacy" and "visual literacy") and attempts to reconcile the disjunction between the literacies we know and practice, the literacies we teach and are taught, and the literacies social systems and institutions demand.
We will take up our serious investigation of literacy through texts that demonstrate its complexity and importance theoretically, aesthetically, and personally. Our public literacy work (the service learning component) will be a central experiential "text" that we read/write over and over again to understand literacy in particularly poignant ways. We will acquaint ourselves with diverse literacy practices in diverse cultural contexts that include race, religion, immigration, technology, language, vocation, gender, education, politics, and place (the wilderness, the farm, the suburbs, the city).
We will write a literacy autoanalysis, a brief public work memoir (to be read aloud), and a hypertextual weblog (blog). We will collect a literacy commonplace/scrap book. We will create individualized final projects that respond to our personal interests and investments in literacy. We will contribute 30 hours of literacy work with/in a local community organization. We will finally live our literacy.