Learning to read is a formative human experience and indivisible from the attainment of language. For many people reading aloud is associated with experiences of early childhood and the parental intimacy of the bedtime story. While these crucial human emotions are thought to be universal, the imaginary dimension of the book is facing dramatic change, with the implication that the book itself is under threat. This is predominantly because of the impact of certain social and technological revolutions, including the 19th century invention of reading as a private activity, the depersonalization of the book due to circulation through libraries, and the rise of mass media and digital communications that threaten to bypass the object of the book altogether. The question of literacy is as urgent as ever because of ongoing global inequalities in education and the differing opportunities to acquire the skill of reading and writing or to access texts in either physical or electronic form. The ability to read and write is arguably now more than ever a significant human right because literacy is still the primary means of knowledge attainment and thus a chief agent of social, economic and cultural disadvantage and therefore exclusion. This paper examines the relevance of a program of reading events that I have produced for two recent art and community events, entitled ‘Being of the Book’ and ‘BookBUS’, to inquire what new opportunities for literacy might be created via social engagement through the activity of reading aloud, particularly in the current space of shifting relations between the reader and the text in the realm of the book.
|Keywords:||Reading, Reader Response, Memory, Literature, Literacy, Private and Public Libraries|
Lecturer, Fine Art, Faculty of Art & Design, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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