Oard 2008: Re-entering an age of orality?
Posted by schrisomalis on December 10, 2008
I’m in the middle of end-of-term panic, including two simultaneous job searches in my department and a harried effort to get my book manuscript off to the publisher, but I thought I’d pop my head up to mention a fascinating post by Mark at The Ideophone about a brief and ridiculous little note in Science from a couple of months ago that I should have seen at the time, but apparently didn’t. In it, Douglas Oard (2008) re-invents the well-worn argument that modern humans began as an oral species, made a great leap to literacy, and now with new media are returning to orality. This claim is related to the assertions of theorists in ‘media ecology’ such as Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong, Edmund Carpenter, Harold Innis, Jack Goody, David Olson, Jacques Derrida, Robert Logan, Julian Jaynes … oh, I could go on, but Oard’s doesn’t cite any of this expansive literature, which limits its utility as a study of changing ways of information storage – a very important subject in literacy studies. But all of this also reminds me of another post that I have been long overdue in making, and which I desperately hope to get to this weekend.
Oard, Douglas W. 2008. Unlocking the Potential of the Spoken Word. Science 321, no. 5897 (September 26): 1787-1788.