Movies are filled with scenes of people of all ages, sexes, races, and social classes reading and writing in widely varied contexts and purposes. Yet these scenes go largely unnoticed, despite the fact that these images recreate and reinforce pervasive concepts and perceptions of literacy.

This book addresses how everyday literacy practices are represented in popular culture, specifically in mainstream, widely-distributed contemporary movies. If we watch films carefully for who reads and writes, in what settings, and for what social goals, we can see a reflection of the dominant functions and perceptions that shape our conceptions of literacy in our culture. Such perceptions influence public and political debates about literacy instruction, teachers' expectations of what will happen in their classrooms, and student's ideas about what reading and writing should be.

part |18 pages


part I|64 pages

Representations of literacy and identity

chapter 2|21 pages

The pragmatic and the sentimental

Literacy and gender roles

chapter 4|20 pages

Writing others

Images of race and literacy

part II|42 pages

Literacy and social contexts

chapter 5|21 pages

Control and action

Literacy as power

chapter 6|20 pages

The perils of misreading

Literacy as danger

part III|36 pages

Literacy myths in the movies

chapter 7|19 pages

The passions of the romantic author

Literacy as individualism

chapter 8|16 pages

The triumph of the word

Literacy as salvation and commodity

part |10 pages


chapter 9|9 pages

Life is not like the movies (or is it?)

Literacy on film and in our lives