Transliteracy as a Unifying Perspective

Transliteracy as a Unifying Perspective

Sue Thomas (De Montfort University, UK), Chris Joseph (De Montfort University, UK), Jess Laccetti (De Montfort University, UK), Bruce Mason (De Montfort University, UK), Simon Perril (De Montfort University, UK) and Kate Pullinger (De Montfort University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-208-4.ch029
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Abstract

Transliteracy might provide a unifying perspective on what it means to be literate in the 21st Century. It is not a new behaviour but has been identified as a working concept since the internet generated new ways of thinking about human communication. This chapter defines transliteracy as “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks” and opens the debate with examples from history, orality, philosophy, literature, ethnography and education. The authors invite responses, expansion, and development. See also http://www.transliteracy.com
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Abstract

Transliteracy might provide a unifying perspective on what it means to be literate in the 21st Century. It is not a new behaviour but has been identified as a working concept since the internet generated new ways of thinking about human communication. This chapter defines transliteracy as “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks” and opens the debate with examples from history, orality, philosophy, literature, ethnography and education. The authors invite responses, expansion, and development. See also http://www.transliteracy.com

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What Is Transliteracy?

Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.

As a behaviour, it is not new – indeed it reaches back to the very beginning of culture – but it has only been identified as a working concept since the internet allowed humans to communicate in ways which seem to be entirely novel. As a notion, it grew to fruition during discussions among the Production and Research in Transliteracy (PART) Group at the Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT), De Montfort University. It is a good example of open source thinking between diverse collaborators, and in this chapter we offer up the idea of transliteracy for further development. Some of the ideas discussed here were first mooted in an article for First Monday in December 2007 (Thomas, 2007).

The word ‘transliteracy’ is derived from the verb ‘to transliterate’, meaning to write or print a letter or word using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or language. This of course is nothing new, but transliteracy extends the act of transliteration and applies it to the increasingly wide range of communication platforms and tools at our disposal. From early signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV and film to networked digital media, the concept of transliteracy calls for a change of perspective away from the battles over print versus digital, and a move instead towards a unifying ecology not just of media, but of all literacies relevant to reading, writing, interaction culture and education, both past and present. It is, we hope, an opportunity to cross some very obstructive divides.

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