I am posting the conclusion to a paper I wrote on TransliteracyLibraries and Transliteracy have a love/hate relationship depending on where you stand.  The blog, linked above, offers some great information on transliteracy.

Transliteracy is an ecological, social and holistic examination of literacy.  Many of the other approaches to literacy focus on a single system, cognition, technology, education, etc.  Transliteracy recognizes that literacy is such a broad topic that for one to fully understand it they must look at all the systems involved.

As Gunther Kress writes,

It is no longer possible to think about literacy in isolation from a vast array of social, technological and economic factors.  Two distinct yet related factors deserve to be particularly highlighted.  These are, on the one hand, the broad move from the now centuries-old dominance of writing to the new dominance of images and, on the other hand, the move from the dominance of the medium of the book to the dominance of the medium of the screen. (2003, p.1)

While Kress may overly emphasize the dominance of the image, he is correct in his notion of no longer viewing literacy alone, but rather in its ecological system.

Transliteracy, as Jenkins describes below, does not focus so much on any specific medium, but rather on the content, or the convergence.

Convergence does not depend on any specific delivery mechanism.  Rather, convergence represents a paradigm shift – a move from medium-specific content toward a content that flows across multiple media channels, toward the increased interdependence of communication systems, toward multiple ways of accessing media content, and toward ever more complex relations between top-down corporate media and bottom-up participatory culture (Jenkins, 2006, p. 243).

While much of the focus on literacy deals with the reading aspect on the literacy spectrum, transliteracy focuses on the full spectrum of literacy within an ecological system.  Transliteracy recognizes that there is a purpose for literacy.  What good is it if someone is only capable of consuming knowledge?  “We should not assume that someone posses … literacy if they can consume but not express themselves” (Jenkins, 2006, p. 170).

Literacy is a fundamental and necessary ingredient for democracy.  Moreover, literacy helps one achieve critical awareness and freedom.  While literacy is “not the equivalent of emancipation, it is in a more limited but essential way the precondition for engaging in struggles around both relations of meaning and relations of power.  To be literate is not to be free, it is to be present and active in the struggle for reclaiming one’s voice, history, and future” (Freire & Macedo, 1987, p. 11).  Literacy is the road to freedom, and libraries line that road.



Filed under transliteracy

5 responses to “Transliteracy

  1. I would love to read the whole paper. Will it be published? Would you be willing to send me a copy?

  2. Pingback: Announcement: Libraries and Transliteracy « The Information Activist Librarian

  3. Hi,

    Is the Transliteracy new term in LIS(Library end Information Science) ? I hear first… I’m a doctorate student Istanbul University and i m looking for a thesis subject…

    Thank you for this entry…


  4. Anthony Molaro

    Transliteracy, as a term, has been around for a few years. I prefer transliteracy because it holds no particular literacy above another. It could be a great dissertation topic.

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