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3. The Tradition of Western Literacy OH.docx
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Department
Communication Studies
Course
CS100
Professor
Martin Morris
Semester
Fall

Description
CS 100B INTRODUCTION TO MEDIAHISTORY WINTER, 2014 Dr. Martin Morris The Tradition of Western Literacy Eric Havelock, “The Greek Legacy” Democratization of literacy o The introduction of the Greek letters into inscription made democratization of  literacy possible with school instruction in reading in childhood o Script itself became meaningless—very important  o Difference between non­literacy and literacy: rhythm no longer necessary  o The advance of knowledge becomes possible: thinking the unthought  [allows you  to put things down and you don’t need to remember it, formulate the production] Robert Logan, “Writing and the Alphabet Effect” o Writing is a different form of language o Objectification of language  o Promotion and encouragement of the skills of analysis, coding, decoding, and  classification  [represent objective ideas, abacus 算算 represent large number, ] Zero and the Place Number System o writing and abstract numerals arose together—their systems share a number of  features, although each developed into independent systems o the alphabet influenced quantitative analysis   o Problem: no concept of or sign for zero [did not be discovered, non­meaning,] o Hindus invented the zero concept, c. 200 BC, which quickly led to a place number  system o Abacus calculations o For an online demonstration of how the abacus represents the place  number system, see: http://www.alcula.com/suanpan.php 1 The language of mathematics o Mathematics stimulated new ideas Infinity—led to algebra The infitesimal(an indefinitely small quantity; a value approaching zero)—led to  calculus Impact of quantitative and qualitative notation and analysis o new avenues/channels for abstract thought and information processing Walter Ong, “Orality, Literacy, and Modern Media” o Three broad developments: primary orality, literacy, and secondary orality  o The phenomenon of sound—sound has a different relationship to time compared  to other senses [just oral culture has no concepts. Oral form don’t just contain the other way] o In an oral culture, words cannot be seen. As a result, the ‘word’ has a different  existence for the mind in oral cultures compared to literate cultures  o Words have power over things, which is prominent in oral cultures [“what  I tell you is what I remember”, oral is more about things you have already known, not  learn about new things. It creates a sense culture more than a literate culture. Literate  culture allows people to isolate from others] o In an oral culture, the restriction of words to embodiment in sound determines not  only modes of expression but also thought processes and attitudes. o Memory aids are required in oral cultures o conservatism of oral culture: a bias against changes in expression or  knowledge  o oral culture fosters community because one must always communicate  with someone—after all, one cannot talk to yourself for hours on end… o
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