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Grant number like: FA-55086-10

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Deborah Brandt
University of Wisconsin System (Madison, WI 53715-1218)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2010 – 6/30/2011

Writing Now: New Directions in Mass Literacy

This project focuses on the rising importance of writing in American life. Whereas 10 per cent of Americans engaged in writing work in 1900, by 1990 the rate had risen to 75 per cent. Writing was further catalyzed by new technology that put keyboards and audiences at hand. Yet this intensifying recruitment of writing on a mass scale is little studied nor understood, even, intriguingly, as the NEA and others have reported precipitous declines in reading during the same time period. This study examines the growing rivalry between reading and writing in the lived experience of everyday Americans and the implications of this new and paradoxical chapter in the history of mass literacy. The book explores the implications of a rise in mass writing for a society whose major institutions (as well as its ways of valuing literacy) grew up around the premise that readers would be many and writers would be few.