Hot Literacy in Cold Societies: A Comparative Study of the Sacred Value of Writing
Comparative Studies in Society and History, 33(2): 225-254, 1991
25 Pages Posted: 1 May 2019
Date Written: March 31, 1991
The argument that the presence or absence of widespread literacy the central criterion to distinguish "savage" from "domesticated" society, presented by Goody in a number of works (1968, 1977, 1986, 1987) makes close associations between alphabetic literacy and the growth of knowledge and between restricted literacy and traditional societies. This essay challenges these associations by presenting material from medieval Europe, in which the milieu of restricted literacy is creative, and from an Islamic reform movement in West Africa, in which widespread literacy does not lead to criticism or the revision of basic religious tenets.
Keywords: Literacy; Lollards; Islamic reform; Mali
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