Discourse of (il)literacy: Recollections of Israeli literacy teachers

Esther Schely-Newman

Abstract

The concepts of literacy and illiteracy are fluid; their meanings vary according to sociocultural-political trends and language ideologies. Reflections of literacy workers about their involvement in national literacy campaigns are a source of data for such fluctuations. This paper analyzes the recollections of Israeli former soldier-teachers from the time of the campaign, and additional data collected decades later in personal interviews. Close attention to discourse strategies used in both sets of data demonstrates how changes in the structure of society, and the public discourse of identity, affect the cluster of meanings along the continuum of literacy-illiteracy.

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