Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sponsors of Literacy - Lisa Biscan

Deborah Brandt delivers an intersting essay, "Sponsors of Literacy" in which she connects "literacy as an individual development to literacy as an economic development" (556). Brandt briefly explains that prior to her search, most literacy studies have not yet combined the specific conditions of economics and literacy learning together. Deborah Brandt does not entirely dismiss previous studies, although she does claim them to possess "analytical failre" (556). In saying this, Ithink Brandt recognizes the many aspects of literacy learning. In this essay Brandt's goal is to provide a bridge to the existing gap between literacy, economics, and the sponsors in between.
Brandt introduces the idea of "sponsors of literacy"(556). It is helpful to think of sponsors in commercial terms - the financial sponsors behind the television shows & commercials. Now, think of sponsors in literacy terms. Instead of sitting in front of a television with images, music, words, voices coming at you, prompting you to take-in their message - think of the many people, words, images, voices, institutions, motivations, and materials which have prompted you throughout your life (557). Just like the television sponsors, some messages are overtly conveyed, while some are latent. This is how, who, and what a literacy sponsor is. Brandt suggests that these sponsors play a formative role in literacy learning (557).
Sponsors can be older relatives, teachers, priests, influential authors, ... powerful figures in one's life (557). Brandt notes that we can all fall "victim" to sponsors agendas, whether deliberate or not. While Brandt addresses the literacy sponsors and the sponsors on a social and econmic scale. I also think Brandt acknowledges the inherently psychological nature that the sponsor and the sponsored relationships' entail. These sponsors can strongly shape the sponsered's realm, scope, access to, and desire of literacy - on purpose or without even knowing it.
Brandt places emphasis on the factor of access to literacy with two contrasting studies. Raymond Branch, who is a European American male from an upper-class family has access to literacy in a way that another person does not. His sponsors include his academic father, the university where his father teaches, advanced tehnological resources, and access to educated personnel. Dora Lopez lives in the same city as Branch, is the same age, and has a relationship with the same university. Yet, Dora's access and sponsors vary greatly. Dora does not have access to the same privaledge and power as Raymond Branch because of her gender, econmic status, and social standing. Her sponsors include the bookstore, secondhand technology, and various word-of-mouth opportunities (561). Therefore, each individual does not have the same access or privaledge to literacy learning.
In this article, Brandt shows that "literacy chances relate to systems of unequal subsidy and reward for literacy" (561). Deborah Brandt continues her essay by looking at generalizations of the relationship between economics, access, privaledge, and sponsorship of literacy. Brandt does point out that each individual starts out on a different playing field, and an uneven one at that! While Brandt supports the importance of sponsorship - she does acknowldege the role that the individual also can play in learning the rules of literacy.

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