ONE THOUGHT ON “READING: ORALITY AND LITERACY”

A follow up on my previous post ‘Reading: Orality and Literacy’ as a response to my course leader’s comment:

Now, what about something more?
Why do you think this goes in Media Technologies? Who was Father Ong? What did he do, and who was he working with? Why did his work matter?

Why does the notion of orality (and per extension the notion of writing) happen in this before-the-module kind of thing?

Of course is another possible blog entry, but these lines of thought could help anchoring this text into some idea of what the module is trying to do…

The below will contain more thoughts, than cohesive arguments or answers. 

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The relevance of the study of Orality in regards to media technologies.

I believe the nature of orality is important to touch upon in regards to technology. In one sense, technology allows another form of communication that is not as simple as oral or non-oral as we speak through ‘messenger’ for example in a relaxed, often informal way that can mimic a more verbal oral conversation. It is very much unlike its other written brother, the email. Technology also offers a great many platforms that offer a combination of oral and written literature. Think of Snapchat and Twitter, Periscope, Instagram and YouTube and the list goes on.

To put it succinctly, oral tradition (OT) and Internet technology (IT) share the core dynamic of navigating through networks, of blazing a trail through webs of potentials. Rather than tracking along the fixed, linear sequence typical of texts, OT and IT foster co-creative, participatory, contingent, and ever-emergent experiences. In other words, they mime the way we think.

(See more: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/229725)

2. Walter J. Ong and why his work on Orality mattered.

Walter Jackson Ong, was a American priest, professor, historian and philosopher. His major interest was in exploring how the transition from orality to literacy influenced culture and changed human consciousness. 

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Ong’s scholarship was recognized around the world. His seminal Orality and Literacy was translated into a dozen languages, both European and Asian.

Fr. Ong’s advice was sought across several fields of expertise. He served on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals, was a member of various national committees for the Modern Language Association, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council on Education, and served as President of the Milton Society of America and the Modern Language Association. In 1967, he served on the 14 member White House Task Force on Education under President Lyndon B. Johnson.

(See more: https://www.slu.edu/the-ong-center/walter-j-ong-sj-biography-and-remembrances)

Ong was extremely influential and well respected in his field. His work on Orality and Literature was popular and made him a focus on the world stage.

His academic advisor was Marshall McLuhan who is also a key player in our research during this module. He was a Canadian professor, philosopher and a public intellectual. His work is one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries.

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PHOTO: http://bodytechnologies.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/3500-bc.html, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_J._Ong, Seminar Slides.
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2 thoughts on “ONE THOUGHT ON “READING: ORALITY AND LITERACY”

  1. This is really good! Well done!
    Does this somehow help making sense of the reading ?

    I love the fragment in which orality assimilates to the internet…
    But there is an aspect that is very important here… and also emerges both from the text, and from the work by Ong…

    What happens with writing ?
    I know that the text insists on “convincing” us readers of the importance of orality… but why does it do so ? What is the problem with orality that we need to be convinced of its importance ? And how does writing play a role in this process ?

    Writing is a technology, and it is so much everywhere that we cannot see it. And it is so important that we cannot think “outside” it. So, when we try to think about oral cultures, and orality, writing comes in the way and it makes it very difficult for us to understand it.

    Now imagine once we tried to think a world without internet or without smartphones. Yes, we were there; but it has become more and more difficult to think outside the technology…

    Now, what happens and how this relate to Media technologies? This is lecture one:
    we need to learn to think about the invisible. The invisible technologies that live amongst us, that happen in our live constantly without us seeing it.

    The only way of critically thinking about them as in what they do to us, how do they become invisible, and how unskilled we are because we cannot imagine a world without it, is by insisting on their artificiality. We need to keep reminding ourselves that writing is a technology (and is not the language, and is not speaking!); that electricity is a technology and is not light, or is not natural becuase it takes huge infrastructures to produce and to transport! And that internet is everywhere, but it is not spontaneous: it needs to be built, transported, codified, designed, planned, and paid for! And what if this meant also that somebody makes business out of it; would this mean also that internet is built for the economic interests of someone else?

    Was writing related to power?
    Could electricity be related to power?
    Is internet also a battlefield for political, economic and social interests?
    …Are the media invisible, too?

    Liked by 1 person

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